Mel Birnkrant's
Mel Birnkrant's
All Original Toy Concepts, Written and Photographic content is Copyright MEL BIRNKRANT
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         Last of all, I made this little video.  The quality was crude, and the editing was done by hand, on two separate VCRs.
          Our second venture, or adventure with Bob Jeffway came to be called, “Chatterbox Bears.”  I can’t remember what it started out as. It might have been, or, might as well have been called, Babbling Bears.  For it was Babbling Babies all over again, but with a difference.  Babbling Babies talked to their owners and each other.  Chatterbox Bears did the same.  But they also had a talking accessory; and they carried on a conversation with that, as well.

  Bob Jeffway’s computer chips were complicated.  If you’re confused, now, so am I.  Nonetheless, I understood it at the time.  And to further complicate matters, the bears and their accessories also had lights!  Can you believe I actually made this prototype?  An LED, which stands for Light-Emitting Diode, in the bear’s nose flashed, in unison, when she spoke.  And in this case, which was more bizarre than the other bears, there was also a light in her handheld (paw held?) mirror.  And the LED in that, which was hidden behind a two-way glass, flashed whenever the mirror spoke back.  Their conversation was a parody of a song from "West Side Story."  The bear, who happens to be called, “Pretty Bear,” asks, “Who's that pretty bear in the mirror there?”  The mirror answers back, "What bear?  Where?”
          The presentation consisted of a working model, our Pretty Bear, who got all dolled up for the occasion, and a series of seven boards, each depicting a different bear.  I’ll include these below, along with the script that I was later asked to write.
          The Obb set out upon a quest that spanned the entire planet, and finally sold the concept to a toy company in England.  From Rupert to Paddington, and Winnie the Pooh, bears have always been big, over there.  I don’t know if the company, itself, was large or small.  But I do know that their name is so tiny on the package that I had to get a magnifying glass to find it.  “Character Options Ltd” was buried in the fine print on the back, in letters 1/32 of an inch high, right beneath: Requires 3XAAA  Batteries (Supplied).”

Character Options Ltd. requested that I write a script for each of the seven bears.  I will include it in italics, after each image.  A few of these are sort of funny.  In all of them, except for the talking mirror, there was intended to be a smaller secondary character that conversed with the bear.  In the scripts, there is a space between each individual segment, as the voice stops and waits to hear something that will encourage it to continue.  But there will not be a space between the two voices, when they occur one after the other in the same segment.  Let's begin with Pretty Bear:
                                          PRETTY BEAR

PB: "Who's that pretty bear, in the mirror there?"---- Mirror: "What Bear? Where?".

PB: "Who can that adorable bear be?"

Mirror: "What a pretty You!" ---- PB: " What a pretty Me?"

Mirror: "You look pretty!" ------ PB: "I feel Pretty!"

PB: "Mmmmmmh! [kiss], I'm so pretty!" 

Mirror: "It's a pity, how pretty you feel!"

PB: I pity any bear who isn't me!" --- Mirror "Good Night"
                                              HAPPY BEAR

         [They crack each other up, and laugh their way through the whole thing]

HB: "Ha, Ha, Haaa, I'm so Happy!" ---- Bunny: I'm so Hoppy!

HB: I'm so Sunny! Haa, Ha, Haa!"---- Bunny: I'm a Bunny!

HB:  Ha, Ha, Haaaaa! You're so Funny!

Bunny: "You're a Honey! Hee, Hee!"

HB: " Ha, Ha , Ha , ha  ha, Haaaaa."

Bunny: Ho, Ho, Ho, Ho, Hooh!"

HB: "Have a nice day!" ------- BOTH together: Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, ha, Ha,!

HB: "Bye Bye".
                                               BOO-HOO BEAR

                     [Boo-Hoo Bear" and "Cry Baby Bear" cry and moan a lot]

BH: "Boo Hoo! I'm so Blue!" ----- CB: "I'm Blue Too!"

BH: "Boooo Hoooooo! I feel so sad!"

CB: "Booooo Hoooooooooo! Me Too!"

BH: "Boo Hoo, I feel Baaaaaad!"

CB: "Boo Hoo!, I feel baaaad, tooooo!"

BH: "I've got a Boo Boo!" ------- CB: "Meeeeee Tooooooo!"

BOTH: "Boooooooooo Hooooooooooooooo!"

BH: "Toodle Doo"
                                              COUNTRY BEAR

             [Country Bear is a musical bear. She sings, folk songs, and then      
        her guitar either repeats the same tune, or completes it.]

CB:  "On top of old Smokey, all covered with fur" --- Guitar: "Plink Plink plink plink plink plink, Plink plink plink plink plink."

CB: "The bear went over the mountain, The bear went over the mountain"--- Guitar "Plink plink plink plink plink plink plink plink" --- CB: "To see what she could see!"

CB: "The bears at night, they shine so bright!" --- Guitar: Plink plink plink plink ------CB: "of Texas!"

CB: Buffalo Bears, won't you come out tonight? --- Guitar:Plink Plink Plink Plink,-- CB:  Come out tonight". --- Guitar:  Plink plink plink plink plink plink plink plink plink plink,"---  CB: "and dance by the light of the moon."

CB: "Good night!'
                                                SNEEZY BEAR

SB: "What a pretty flower!" --- Flower: "Smell me!"

SB: "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Chooooooooooooooooooo!" ---Flower: "Bless you!"

SB: "Sniff Sniff, You smell so good!" ---- Flower: "Thank You!"

SB: "AH, AHHH, Ahhhhhh, AHHHHHH- CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"-- Flower: "Gasuintite!"

Flower: "Smell me again!"

SB: "Sniff, Sniff, SNIFFFFF! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"


Flower: "Goodbye".
                                                HONEY BEAR

HB: "Mmmmmmmm, I just LOVE HONEY!" ---- Bee: "Buzzz, SO DO I!"

HB: "Honey is so sweet!" ---- Bee: "Buzzzz, So Am I!"

Bee: "Can I have some honey?"---- HB: "BUZZ OFF!"


HB: "Say Pretty Please!"----  Bee: "Pretty Pleeeezzzzzzze"

HB: "OK, Have some honey, Bee!"

Bee: "Can I BEEE your friend?"

HB:  "You're so sweet!" -------- Both: "Let's be Best Friends!"

Bee: "Bye Bye!"
                                              SLEEPY BEAR

SB: "YAWNNNnnnn. I'm sleepy."----- Clock: "It's Naaap Time!"

SB: "YAWWWWWN, SNORE SNORE!" -- Clock: "Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock." [light flashes with each tick and each tock]

Clock: "RIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNG! WAKE UP!"    [light stays on throuout ring]

SB: "Snort! What time is it?" --- Clock: "It's Naaaaaap Time!"



          Character Options Ltd. whittled the seven original characters down to four, one of whom was new to me.  They also eliminated the secondary characters, where possible.  Thus, as before, Pretty Bear, who was quite narcissistic, carried on a conversation with her reflection in the mirror.  Honey Bear chatted with a bumble bee, and Happy Bear conversed with what appears to be a cherry, atop a cupcake that she seemed about to eat.  Food was what made her happy.  And last of all, the new character, Dreamy Bear spoke to a star, attached to the point of a crescent moon that she held in her paw.  At least, I think that’s what it is; the concept and logic of this escapes me.

  This mysterious English Company did a fabulous job of manufacturing these.  I don’t know if they sold any.  My partners, the Obb, who I trusted implicitly, rarely gave me itemized reports.  A royalty check came quarterly, one that included everything I did.  Meanwhile, the Chatterbox Bears have been waiting patiently, hibernating in the storage space, beneath the floor downstairs, for over sixteen years.  Although their batteries are depleated, the bears themselves are pristine mint, and eager to "interact" again.

Here is a video that my partners made.  I never saw it, until today.  All these years later, Noah dropped it off at the schoolhouse, yesterday.   This appears to have been made, right after Bob Jeffway programmed the bears voices, and installed them behind cut out images, made from my drawings.  The Obb shot this demonstration tape, all in one take, starring Andy.  I added a title to it this afternoon.  The video must have been effective, for the bears sold quickly.