All Original Toy Concepts, Written and Photographic content is Copyright MEL BIRNKRANT
“Baby Magic Tooth” was simple, honest, and straightforward. The single drawing explains it all. Elaborate artwork wasn’t necessary. I drew and colored the only sketch in half an hour. My feeling was that if the feature was strong and unique, then, what the baby looked like didn’t matter. On the other hand, I sensed that this was one concept that needed to be seen to be believed. I was unsure if, in reality, this subtly surreal feature, a single magic tooth with a bright light, inside it, would come off as enchanting, or merely freaky.
So, I went out and bought a doll that I could adapt to make a working model. Among the dolls at Toy-R-Us, I found this chubby soft bodied baby doll. She was not really what I had in mind, but her vinyl face was charismatic, and large enough to permit me to install a mechanism inside.
The mechanism turned out to be more elaborate than one might imagine. It consisted of a single magic tooth that I crafted out of plastic. This bright white tooth not only lit up, it also doubled as a switch. A gentle touch by hand or toothbrush is all that was required to start the process. A chip operated timing device, inside the baby’s head effectively caused the baby’s bright new tooth to slowly glow. It remains alight for a several seconds, then, gently fades again. The charming result of this electronic trickery is really quite amazing.
More amazing still, was the amount of attention this simple, but effective, prototype received. A surprising number of toy companies came close to licensing Baby Magic Tooth. Even more surprising, in light of that reaction, was the fact that, in the end, nobody did.