Mel Birnkrant's
All Original Toy Concepts, Written and Photographic content is Copyright MEL BIRNKRANT
Continue to NEXT PAGE                     Return to CONTENTS
Mel Birnkrant's
          If, by chance you happened to read the previous page, no doubt, you realized that I really loved the sculptures of the proposed New Magic Diaper Babies.  And if you happened to know me personally, you would also realize that, for me to approve, wholeheartedly, of anything I ever made was a rarity.  This was one such rare occasion.

Sadly, the New Magic Diaper Babies never happened.  The sculptures, and the dreams, turned out to be all for nothing.  The excuse that Gary Niles of Galoob offered my partners and I for not doing the New Magic Diaper Babies was that they priced out too high, and therefore, they would have to sell for too much money.  We could see his point of view.  The possibility that they might be too expensive had occurred to me, while I was working on them, but believing that anything might be affordable in mysterious Hong Kong, I hoped that I was wrong.

  Typically,  the sculptures were never returned to me.  I would not have surprised me, if, as was the case with my original heads for Baby Face, one of Galoob’s light-fingered employees would, eventually, offer them for sale on eBay.

Being a firm believer in the old adage, “If at first you don’t succeed,”  I made up my mind to try again.  The image of those delicate babies was still alive, inside my head.  So, I set out to recreate them, while I could.  This time, they would be bigger and better than before.  What they would do was still a mystery to me.  Around that time, I had been experimenting with casting images in latex.  For lack of a better excuse to sculpt a new series of babies, I came up with an idea that, on first impression, seemed rather lame: I would cast the babies in latex, fill their bodies with soft stuffing, and call them, “SQUEEZE ME’s.”

So, with that as rationale, I sculpted a single baby in Super Sculpey.  And I gave her a large bow as an excuse for doing different colors. 
          Then, I removed her arms and head, and made plaster molds of all the elements.  When the molds were fully dry, and able to absorb moisture, I cast the various parts in latex, enough to make four babies.  Then, I trimmed the rubber pieces, stuffed the heads and bodies with soft synthetic fiber, and reassembled the pieces, using liquid latex as adhesive.  The finished figures were soft, and actually quite fun and fascinating to squeeze.  Last of all, I painted the babies, using an airbrush to tint their cheeks.  And as a final touch, I gave each one a tuft of vinyl hair, emerging from the bow, atop its head.
         In the end, it was the visual appeal of the baby, itself, that I hoped would be enough to convince a manufacturer, not necessarily Gary, to produce Squeeze Me’s.  Therefore, to amplify the appeal, and illustrate the look and possibilities, I enthusiastically set about sculpting six more babies.

Knowing I was, most likely, going to lose these, as I had the Magic Diaper Baby sculptures, I photographed them, more carefully, this time.  Like the magic Diaper Sculptures, each conveyed a unique personality, through its pose, alone.  Each face would also be a little different.  Although, a few echoed Magic Diaper Baby poses, most  of the poses were brand new.
          The pose I chose for the prototype was playing peek-a-boo.  A gentle squeeze, from behind, would lift her fingers from her eyes.  Admittedly, this was not an earthshaking concept; and its Squeeze Me feature was quite subtle, even humble.  Squeeze Me’s were a modest concept.  They did not aspire to set the toy industry on fire.

When the prototypes were finished, I designed a hang tag.  It was rather complicated.  My initial intention was that each one would open up to disclose a little story inside, and reveal the babies name.   Cabbage patch had taught the lesson that names, alone, can be a feature.  Scanning this tag, twenty years later, I notice that the little story and name I cut and pasted there appears to be about a snake, named, "Hissy."  How that happened, sure beats me!
          Last of all, just for good measure, I made this little video.  Well, I began it, anyway.  I never completed it, or showed it to anybody, including my partners.  Today, I added the title image and web address, and posted it on You Tube.  This will be the first time that anyone, other than yours truly, has ever seen it.
         If my memory serves me correctly, Squeeze Me’s were never shown.  Before the presentation was completed, a better more dynamic concept idea came along, for which these sculptures would be perfect.  And so, like so many of the concepts that I’ve rediscovered, lately, these Squeeze Me’s never saw the light of day.  But, as you are about to see, the sculptures did not go to waste!  Their saga continues, on the next page.