All Original Toy Concepts, Written and Photographic content is Copyright MEL BIRNKRANT
“The Rainbow Unicorns” carry me back to days of blissful innocence when rainbows had no significance, either sexual or political. Throughout my life in toy design, rainbows were nothing more to me than an excuse for wallowing in color, or to be more precise, six or seven distinctive shades that I had identified among my magic markers, and could access, easily. Whenever the opportunity arose to enhance a toy design, I’d reach for these familiar markers, and deftly place a rainbow in the sky above the newly created scene or package, to add a final touch of magic.
Over the past few decades, the rainbow has, alas, been high jacked! I’m not referring to just any rainbow, but the specific one that Judy Garland sang about in the 1940 movie, ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ Over the ensuing three quarters of a century, Judy ascended into divahood, and ultimately traveled over the very rainbow that she sang about, to achieve immortality. Meanwhile, that legendary rainbow grew to eventually become the universal symbol of the worldwide gay community.
I doubt that Rainbow Unicorns could happen today. To some potential customers they might be interpreted as attempting to make a statement, one that a few still consider controversial. At any rate, this observation matters not, for the Rainbow Unicorns never happened in the first place, way back when I first halfheartedly contrived them.
As one wends their way through the following drawings, they can trace the route my thinking traveled, from trying to attach any and every, and, indeed, way too many features, in the beginning, to adding princesses, in the end. Or, perhaps, a single Rainbow Princess! We never stopped trying to find a doorway into the fashion doll category.
The various features I suggested are, more or less, explained on the actual drawings. I might also state the obvious, and point out that many of these ideas have been “inspired” by, or borrowed from My Beautiful Pony. Each variation has one thing in common, the secret comb, hidden in each saddle.
This next to last drawing puts all the options on the table. She’s My Beautiful Pony, reborn, and then some. This horny little unicorn has everything, but the kitsch-n-sink, jewels, perfume and sparkling pixie dust, as well as lights and music.
Finally, we added princesses. This was many years before Disney would recycle every heroine, from every classic Disney movie, and anointed them as royalty. I rather like the Rainbow Princess at the top of this page, her rainbow robes and star studded cape radiate a kind of Magic. Forget the Unicorns; she, on her own, might well have been a more exciting product.
Last of all, I found this makeshift model, yesterday. I can’t remember creating it, but obviously I did, as it is painted in my favorite and extremely obscure purple iridescent paint. This semi prototype was intended to display the working of the lights and the general feeling of the Rainbow Unicorns. The sculpture is not original. It’s just a generic horse that I bought at Toys-R-Us. If the product had been manufactured, the unicorns would have been sculpted to match the younger cuter look of the drawings.