All Original Toy Concepts, Written and Photographic content is Copyright MEL BIRNKRANT
“Doggie Paddles,” or “My Doggie Paddles,” What name is better? I never could decide, and still can’t make up my mind. Although, it’s slowly dawning on me that it doesn’t matter now. I am still mystified that this item didn’t sell. I realize that just looking at these drawings, you can see why. But it was actually a fabulous idea, and if you could see the prototype I crafted, you well might change your mind. On second thought, maybe not. Weeks after I put this page together, I found the actual prototype. I’ll insert a photo of it here. It was built around a plastic dog I bought in Toys-R-Us; just a generic plastic pup. I adapted it to operate in the bath tub
How did this magic happen? A simple solution! His head tipped up and down. When out of the water, gravity tilted his head downward naturally. But placed in water, a Styrofoam float inside his chin, lifted his head, and held it up. This action triggered the switch that turned him on.
Unfortunately, it didn’t turn on any toy companies. If only they would have auditioned Doggie Paddles in their bathtub. I’m sure he would have sold. But, alas, without a tub, his career was all washed up! Ah, there’s the rub! Toy manufacturers are reluctant to take a chance, investing in products that require expensive tooling, for fear that they will take a bath!
Because of that, I tried to suggest that they could hedge their bets by adapting Doggie Paddles to Sesame Street. I can pretty much date the years I made this, as it was still too early to realize the lesson that time would tell, namely, Big Bird products did not sell. It was only Elmo or the Cookie Monster, who soon be flying off the shelf.
This drawing is just secondary. As you can see, above, I actually built this thing; and it worked fantastically! It was the perfect bathtub toy for a child of any age. Even a baby could operate it, as it was fully automatic. There was no on and off switch. All one had to do was place Doggie Paddles in a few inches of water, and he would automatically begin to paddle. Technically speaking, he didn’t really do the doggie paddle, a stroke, to which I’ve been addicted, all my athletically challenged life. It was actually his little wagging tail that propelled him, and did so quite effectively. Then, he would stop, the instant that he was lifted out of the water, and set onto dry land again.