All Original Toy Concepts, Written and Photographic content is Copyright MEL BIRNKRANT
I’m grouping these divergent concepts all together, simply because they were all done on a single day. Although, they don’t all relate to one another, they trace the meandering route my mind wandered, from one drawing to another. The melting ice and greased lightning ideas both got a lot of play. I suppose, it was the success of the “Trash Bag Bunch” that got me going into the world of stuff that dissolves in water, and from there, to stuff that’s a surprise. Both those elements can be detected in almost all of the following sketches.
My favorite was the Meltdown Monsters. Of course, I knew that it would prove to be all but impossible to manufacture. Nonetheless, in the best of all possible worlds, one monster would transform into another when dipped into a cup of water. I also really liked the drawing, the styling of the creatures, and the little ducks, circling the cup. Unfortunately, we really didn’t have a formula, from which the outer layer could be cast. It needed to be something that remained intact, when dry, and could dissolve quickly when wet. The solutions that came to mind were derived from sugar or maybe made of candy. This might encourage a child to eat or swallow these. OY! Toy inventing isn’t easy!
The next idea that came to mind was "ICE AGE." This consisted of creatures from another time, frozen in ICE! The ice would probably be rock candy.
Having already done the creature thing, I figured my partners would like automotive. Mattel had been so successful with “Hot Wheels,” maybe, Cold Wheels would sell. So here they are, “Ice Breakers,” vehicles so cool they’re imbedded in ice. This sketch reveals the fact that I can’t spell breakers. Another possibility was vehicles that were transparent, so they looked like they were made of ice as well.
This variation, based on the same principal was called “Solid Gold.” “24 Carrot Classics.” Another spelling classic! Now, 20 years later, I learn the word is “carat!” The vehicles would also be gold plated. That is perhaps a valid concept, even without the dissolving bar of gold.
The opposite of freezing cold is molten Hot! Here’s “Molten Motors,” vehicles so HOT that they’re imbedded in solid lava rocks. Hot Wheels, look out!
OK, this one is really awful! I considered hiding it. We'd been successful with creatures packaged in dissolving trash bags..... soooo, what kind of bags could vehicles come in? Would you believe “Air Bags?” NO? I didn’t think so. Neither would I, but I drew it anyway.
Another variation was “Mystery Motors,” in which each vehicle is covered in a water soluble Alka-Seltzer like sizzling car cover, inside a sealed package. This was an attempt to create a variation on the Trash Bag Bunch.
Here is a similar concept with a novel twist. Called, “Greased Lightning,” (more misspelling!) each mystery vehicle comes in a package of “Super Lube.” This would have been a variation on child friendly “Slime.”
From here, I departed into two vehicular concepts. Vehicles were my least favorite category in the entire toy industry. In retrospect, all these years later, I wish I had never bothered trying to do a vehicle. But my partners were Hot on Wheels, and they steered me into a dead end! The first was called “Tred Marks,” another spelling error. These cars actually made tread marks, on everything.
And the last attempt was simply a play on the phrase, “Touch n’ Go.” To this day, I believe we could have sold this if we had a working model.
Believe it or not, we actually got some serious bites on some of these concepts. Matchbox licensed the dissolving Gold, Ice, Molten Lava, etc. They never did them in the end, but they did pay us a $15G drop fee.