Mel Birnkrant's
Mel Birnkrant's
All Original Toy Concepts, Written and Photographic content is Copyright MEL BIRNKRANT
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         Poor little “P.T. Puppy,” he was the victim of a felony.  Although, this dognapping took place seven years ago, I just discovered it last week.  I guess, the bottom line is I was too trusting, in an industry, apparently, devoid of honesty; one, in which some might say there was no one to blame, but me.

I guess, I was an idiot, when, late in 2008, I posted Paper Trained Puppy’s video on You Tube, thinking that as my partners, KISCOM/The Obb, were no longer showing him, I would be giving him another chance.  How naive of me!  Within a year, somebody stole him, and sold the concept to Mattel, the biggest toy company in the country, where PT and his purloined pals were co-opted by Barbie.
         Who is P.T. Puppy, anyway? Let me introduce you.  P.T. stands for his full name:  “Paper Trained Puppy.” I realized when I created him that the concept was outrageous, but as inventing toys is supposed to be fun, I did it anyway.  The idea of a Puppy that lifts his leg to wee-wee on newspaper in a pee-pee tray is bad enough, but I made it even more daring.  The plain water that he drank, from his baby bottle, appeared to actually turn yellow, when it hit the tray.  Meanwhile, my partners took it seriously, and I just discovered today, as I was about to take some photographs, that they added this description to the back of the box.  How typical of them to present a dog that lifts his leg and takes a leak, as something uplifting and educational!
          The concept might trace its origin to this sketch, which was one of the dozens of product variations that I drew up, at Tyco’s request. when they were working on Doggie Bag Doggies.  Most of the Elements were present in this drawing, sub-titled, “Paper Training Play Set,” including the Paper Training Tray, and the “Puppy Times,” training papers.
         Now, making Paper Training the entire item, I named the puppy “PT” and threw myself into the project with a passion.  I pulled out all the stops on this concept and created not only one prototype, but three. The first, PT, himself, who, in the upcoming video, demonstrated a discreet squatting action.  The second puppy, his friend “Pee-Pee,” urinates by lifting one leg, in the video.  I knew that this was pushing the envelope.
          Then, I actually created an issue of “The Puppy Times.”  Hilarious!  The magic of color change was simple.  It lay in the special Paper Training Tray.  When wet, the plain paper let the yellow color of the tray show through.  When the Puppy Times were all used up, real newspaper would do.  I thought that the paper training element would be the nuance that made a drink and wet puppy acceptable.  A dog that just pissed everywhere would be taking this idea too far.  Drink and wet baby dolls don’t wee-wee on the floor.  Should my drink and wet doggie wear a diaper?  In a bow (wow) to reality, uncharacteristic for me, I didn’t think so.  Therefore, he would have special training papers, in a paper training tray.
         And, last of all, I made this video: 
          Almost as an afterthought, I made a third puppy to demonstrate the packaging, which conveyed the newspaper training theme.  This beat up box has seen better days.
         I can’t say I was surprised when the concept didn’t sell. I knew that the idea of a puppy that lifted its leg to pee was totally off the wall.  Who would think up such a thing, but me?  So, when my partners gave the project  back to me, I figured I had nothing to lose by posting this seemingly absurd video on You Tube.  And I half hoped that it was a means, by which the item might still sell.  Stupid me!  The thought never occurred to me that my entire website might be little more than a buffet, on which those, with no integrity, or ideas of their own, could feast.
          This brings us to last week.  Every so often I look up myself, on Google Images.  What interests me, there, are the images that didn’t come from me.  I, sometimes, click on these to see what the relation is that would cause them to appear under my name.  And, so, last week, this photo caught my eye.  "Oh My God! That’s PT Puppy!" I cried.  I clicked on the image, and the rest is history.  It brought me to the World of Barbie.  And there it was, my concept, in its entirety. My jaw dropped when I saw this video.  In my opinion, there are too many similarities, to be a mere coincidence.  Here is the Barbie commercial.  What do you think?
         This is too close to be an accident.  Beginning with the name, in which “Paper Trained Puppy,” is changed to “Potty Training Puppies”  I wonder why?  It’s clear that they are being paper trained, and I don’t see a potty!  At any rate, one feeds the puppies with a baby bottle.  Then, they wee-wee, an action that works two ways: one, by squatting, like “PT”, and the other, by lifting the puppy’s leg, as demonstrated in my video by “Pee-Pee.”  Furthermore, they urinate on a special newspaper that TURNS YELLOW when wet.  The paper is not on the floor, like it would be in reality, but in a paper training tray, exactly like PT. 
         Shocked, I emailed my partner Noah.  His reply suggested that one would not be likely to see a 12” plush puppy (actually he’s more like 8”) as the same concept.  Somehow, that doesn’t satisfy me.  If Noah’s opinion is correct, then this is a case where Size, not only, Matters, but it is everything.  Really?

As if to contradict that theory, here is another product that Mattel produced, around the same time, as an offshoot of Potty Training Puppies, called, “Barbie Potty Time Training Pup Play Set.”  This IS a 12" piece of plush.  And, what’s that I see in the bottom of the box?  It’s an issue of "The Puppy News.”