All Original Toy Concepts, Written and Photographic content is Copyright MEL BIRNKRANT
What is TOUCH n’ GO? Would you believe that I don’t know? These drawings are a mystery. They have been kicking around here for many years. And for the life of me, I can’t remember when I drew them. The best that I can figure out is that this must be a project that I did with Harry Kislevitz, in the early days working with him at Colorforms.
I can deduce several things: First of all, the colored images are expensive color photographs, not something I could, or would, afford, working on my own. Secondly, some of the careful pencil diagrams tell me that this was a serious effort. Drawings such as these would indicate that a model shop was involved. More perplexing still, is the fact that these might indicate that this was actually in the process of being produced. On the other hand, it was rare for me to work with pencil, in those early days, I was more inclined to do drawings that were rather crude and clunky with a Pentel marking pen. So, this would have been a serious effort.
What is it actually? I can remember some of that. Each Touch n’ Go consisted of a motor that was either a windup mechanism that was wound by pushing down on a plunger, or it might have been a timed electric motor that ran for a predetermined distance when a switch on top was pressed. There were wheels underneath. The unit was then covered with a flexible vinyl egg shaped cover. The Touch n’ Go logo above tells me that the top was flexible enough to allow the switch or plunger to be pushed down to operate the toy. Clearly, I was doing this with the full cooperation of Colorforms. I never could, or would, have ordered expensive full color photos if I was merely speculating. The pencil sketch on the right, was obviously the first drawing.
The concept lent itself to a variety of characters, both male and female. The pencil drawings below, indicate some of the possibilities. I’m not sure how the operated with a hat on their head. Perhaps, they were constructed so the entire hat could be pressed down to activate the toy.
The concept lent itself to a variety of characters, both male and female. The pencil drawings below indicate some of the possibilities.
It appears that when one of the characters was placed in a vehicle, the motor inside the egg shaped character would be powerful enough to propel the entire vehicle.
Clearly, this project was for real, as I was required to create blueprints to guide a model shop. There was a model shop in Pennsylvania that made working prototypes of many of the toys that I came up with, in those days.
There is something I find pleasing about these delicate pencil drawings. They remind me of the dream that I hoped to someday be an artist, in those days, and I was still drawing from life, twice a week.
Much of this concept is missing. The images shown in these color photographs are quite large. I had to reduced them considerably to bring them into scale, and fit them on this page.
Reflecting on these images, I realize that they had to have been done around 1967, before we moved up to the country. The bright abstract colors remind me of the Muppets, something called the “people in your neighborhood.” I guess, imagery like this was floating in the air around that time, as Sesame Street did not start airing on TV, until 1969.
So, that is that, merely a fragment of a faded memory, one that I really can’t identify. As I embark upon the sea of pending destiny, I’m tying up lose ends, and mopping up, behind me. Now, I can put these drawings away, and never look at them again.