All Original Toy Concepts, Written and Photographic content is Copyright MEL BIRNKRANT
Exploring the Land of Lost Toys has sometimes seemed like being a detective or an archeologist. The secrets that I’ve unearthed there, and the stories that mere fragments have enabled me to piece together are occasionally amazing. Not only am I refreshing ancient memories, I am also learning things I never knew before. The Rosetta stone that has opened the doorway to these forgotten histories is a big blue three ringed binder that my partner Noah gave me recently. As I might have mentioned earlier on this adventure, KISCOM, now called The OBB, just sold the building that they occupied in New Jersey, and in the process of vacating the premises, the youngest Kislevitz brother, Noah gathered up every remnant of refuse that might pertain to yours truly, packed it all into the open bed of a medium sized truck, and delivered it to me.
The pup you see above was hiding In that load of stuff. When I discovered him, I was surprised, to say the least. I had no idea he existed. He and his traveling companion, a pink elephant, looked like real production samples. Where did these come from? Could it be that I designed them? They jogged a long forgotten memory. There is a tag on the dog that reads, “Sub = WIGGLE WAGGLE (DOG). Date = Nov 3rd, 95. Remarks+ Revised Sample For Approval on Design. I don’t know whose approval they were asking for; it certainly wasn’t mine. I never saw this dog before.
Also, among this truckload of lost treasures, all of which signify the ending of an era, was a big blue book that chronicles the history of nearly every product concept I ever gave to KISCOM. Studying its countless pages, has proved to be a revelation. Each page is dedicated to a single project. It tells what toy company saw it, and on what date. It also describes the concept briefly, and is almost always accompanied by a usually lousy snapshot of some element of the presentation. The bottom of each page relates reactions and comments, and whether or not the product was sold or optioned. If so, to whom, the royalty rate, advance, and guarantee that might have once been due. The book is arranged in alphabetical order. Therefore, this concept, called, “WIGGLE WAGGLES” was at the very end.
The entire Wiggle Waggles presentation consisted of a single drawing, albeit a large one, and rather pretty, if I do say so myself. Attached to the product page was a small snapshot. It served to jog my memory of how pleasantly appealing the original artwork really was. The photo, shown here, as it appears in person, is badly underexposed, shot from an angle, and trimmed with scissors. I can hardly believe that, through the magic of Photoshop, I managed to transform it into the fairly decent reconstruction you will see below.
Looking through some boxes of old papers, the other day, I also discovered these early sketches that clearly led to the Wiggle Waggle concept. I guess, the pooch above made his first appearance here. That talk balloon was added in later; I assume to make him relate to “Wag-A-Muffins,” an alternate name for Wiggle Waggles.
This second sketch represents a packaging idea that would enable Wiggle Waggles to waggle in their “Wiggle Me” Packs. It goes on to suggest that “This could lead to a “Wiggle Waggle” World! Yes, an entire world! That’s every toy inventors dream!
And here is the first comprehensive sketch. It describes the concept as “Soft bright colored pets with tails, or ears, or necks, or trunks that “WAGGLE” when they WIGGLE!
And here is the recreation of the original presentation board. This board was the entire presentation. Once I gave it to my partners, I never saw it again. Nor did I ever hear it mentioned. I assumed that they must not have liked it enough to show it to anyone.
The Blue Books page indicates otherwise. According to what I read there, KISCOM only showed the concept to two buyers. The first was Fisher Price. A note proclaims that it was “*Developed for F-P under plush development in infants area, under Liz Krisell” **Breiter Group showed it to Happiness Baby. Happiness asked for contract $10,000. advance 5%/7% fob, WW rights. 1996 Toy Show intro. 1/3 Breiter Grp./ 1/3 MB/ 1/3 Kiscom split.”
So that’s the story, all of which was news to me. I don’t know if this item was produced or not, but twenty one years later, I’m having fun, trying to solve the mystery. The elephant below, no doubt, remembers better than I do. Meanwhile, whoever Liz Krisell might be, apparently she installed a squeeze bulb in his tummy that makes his trunk extend, and then, roll back up again. I wonder where the other critters are. There must have once been a full set.