All Original Toy Concepts, Written and Photographic content is Copyright MEL BIRNKRANT
These drawings are 48 years old. The year was 1970 or maybe 1971. We had just moved to the country, and the Outer Space Men were fading. Having no funds to fix up the enormous white elephant of a schoolhouse we had moved into, I spent all my time thinking up toy ideas with Harry. And in the process, I was discovering that desperation is a poor substitute for inspiration. Harry, as always, was open to my working on anything, with the sole exception of Colorforms. So, when Sesame Street appeared on TV, I tried to generate some ideas that didn’t incorporate Colorforms “stick-on” plastic pieces.
That is why two of these five concepts were based on Sesame Street. Each of these Target games were similar to dart boards, and the play was essentially the same. The targets consisted of images, printed on fuzzy fabric. And the “darts” were tipped or lined with Velcro. When thrown at the target, they would stick like magic, or for that matter, stick like Colorforms. This first one was called, “The Cookie Monster Cookie Toss.” It’s rather self-explanatory: Just “toss your cookies” at the the Cookie Monster to score points. Hmmm, those arms, tossing their cookies, look a lot like Bert and Ernie.
One stipulation in the early days of Sesame Street and the Children’s Television Workshop, was that games and toys couldn’t, just be fun, they had to be educational. Thus, the Count teaches the kids numbers, as they aim bats, instead of darts, at the numbers to score points. Each bat would sail like a tiny glider, and have a Velcro patch, where its venomous fangs should be.
This one was my favorite. I still like it today. The target would be a die-cut sports jacket, hanging on a real coat hanger. The coat is supplying lunch for a crowd of colorful moths. Each muncher has a number. The object is to take turns, throwing Velcro covered Moth Balls at the little buggers, then, adding up the score.
Last of all, is the “Mickey Mouse Tailspin Target.” The object is to pin the twirling tail on Mickey by throwing it from a distance. Each tail would be weighted on one end, and have a Velcro patch. They would spin, as they flew through the air, heading for Mickey’s derriere. I was obviously just itching to create a toy that could reintroduce Classic Mickey. And two years later, I did!
These images were very big, much larger than they appear here. The pad I used was 14”X17.” In those days, I drew with a Pentel Marking Pen. It was rather bold and clunky. Subtlety eluded me.
I really liked this one. It was called, “Spinning Spooks.” Each dart would be a tiny ghost, wearing a tiny sheet. And for good measure, there was the possibility that they whole thing might glow in the dark.