Mel Birnkrant's
Mel Birnkrant's
All Original Toy Concepts, Written and Photographic content is Copyright MEL BIRNKRANT
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          This is the simple sketch that became the Magic Diaper Babies.  It took me less than half an hour to create.  The Magic Diaper Babies went on to sell over a hundred million pieces in Europe.  Alas, they were not quite as successful in the USA.  The way they worked was simple.  If one dipped them into ice-cold water, the color of their diaper turned to either blue or pink.  This informed their owner if their baby was a boy or a girl.  By 2001, the Magic Diaper phenomenon was over, at least, in America.  Meanwhile, a company in Italy has stolen the Magic Diaper Babies, molds and everything.  And they are still popular there, today! 
          Meanwhile, in 2001 my partners, KISCOM and I tried to sell a new updated version, in which each baby’s diaper had a light inside it that lit up, either blue, or pink. Surprise!  The original Magic diaper Babies were sculpted by a talented young lady named, Sue Beatrice.  She based many of her designs on a series of fifty babies that I made previously, called Oodles. This time, at least for the presentation, I intended to sculpt the New Magic Diaper Babies myself.  Here is that work in progress, the first New Magic Diaper Baby.  By the way, in case you're wondering why Mickey is here, I always sculpted in front of a mirror to check that the image was symmetrical.
         I begin this new page with trepidation.  The project will be both painful and ambitious.  Viewing some of the photos here is a heartbreaking experience for me.  Many of them are still raw images that remain just as I shot them, fifteen years ago.  I, subsequently, never used these photos, or prepared them in Photoshop.  But, for the sake of these lost babies, even though, this will be a tedious process, it is one that I need to undertake, before it is too late.

An instant search of my entire hard drive,  required only that I type in the two letters, “MD,” which was my original abbreviation for Magic Diaper Babies.  And Presto! A simple mouse click comanded my computer to cough up a cornucopia of photos that I had forgotten, long ago. 

Among them, I discovered the following letter.  It accompanied the presentation of the New updated Magic Diaper Babies concept when it was handed over to Gary Niles.  Gary was the man, who, while still the director of Galoob’s modest International Division, produced the original Magic Diaper Babies.  These became a fad in Europe, and not only made a lot of money, they also catapulted Gary into the presidency of the entire Galoob company.   Now elevated to the status of a deity, Gary had an uncanny way of jerking my partners and I around, and then, letting us down.  Unfortunately, in many respects, he was also the only show in town.  Gary was basically well intentioned, nevertheless, the list of our items he diminished or destroyed, from this one, the New Magic Diaper Babies, to "Whoopies," and “The Real Little Nursery,” is staggering!  By the time our adventures with him were over, we were well beyond the Land of Fool Us Once, and living in the World of Shame On Us!

This letter and the two drawings that accompany it are revealing.  They offer an unprecedented glimpse beneath the surface of toy inventing.  Pretty pictures and hopefully compelling prototypes are just the tip of the toy inventing iceberg.  They are the part that shows above the water.  All the complex technicalities of inventing toys are usually hidden below the waterline.  This material is just for the few among you who are willing to take the dive.  How much of this you choose to read, depends on just how deep you want to go.  For most, this will be more than they want to know.  If you are a member of that majority, just skip this part, and move on to the video.
          I also shot these photographs. I don’t recall that they were ever used.  Gary was given the actual working prototypes, the above letter, the drawings, and the video.  We never got them back again.  Therefore, these photos proved to be just for me, to refresh and jog my memory. 
         Here is the video.  Although, the product was engineered for Gary, I made an effort to make the presentation more generic.  So, just in case he wasn’t interested, we could pitch the concept to another company.  That did not prove necessary.  Gary said he loved, and wanted manufacture the NEW updated Magic Diaper Babies.
         And so, at Gary’s request, I sat down to sculpt a few more Magic Diaper Babies.

There were times in my long and inconsistent history, when a sort of magic blessed and possessed me.  This proved to be one of those occasions.  Whatever deity decides, whether or not an inanimate object will, or will not be imbued with life, was on my side, that day.  These tiny images were as lively as any in whose creation I ever participated.

All this happened to be taking place, at a time when Super Sculpey and I were in our prime.  By then, I had learned the hard way that anything I gave to Gary Niles was something I would never see again.  So, for once, I had the foresight to shoot photographs of these enchanting babies, before I shot them off to him.  And true to my expectations, I never did see them again.  Therefore, these few images are all that remain of some of the most delicately inspired sculptures I ever made.  They illustrate the theory that inspired my lifelong passion for collecting stylized imagery, the belief that abstract forms and pure geometry, disguised beneath a veneer of reality can imbue an inanimate object with Life Energy.