All Original Toy Concepts, Written and Photographic content is Copyright MEL BIRNKRANT
“Honey Ba-Bee Bear” was a somewhat minor concept, one that might have consisted of no more than a single drawing. The basic idea being: a bumblebee themed baby bear, with the bumblebee motif repeated, throughout all of her accessories. More importantly, she would have a unique voice, activated by air. Thus, Honey Ba-Bee Bear required no batteries.
This time, I built a prototype! I went out and purchased a generic bear, and installed a rubber bladder in its tummy and a highly effective noisemaker in its mouth. A hidden insert could hold a bumblebee ba-bee bottle, with bees inside that were activated by the stream of air.
Here are several variations of Honey’s action Ba-Bee Bottle. Miraculously, I still have the working model. This is the first variation, in which a pair of Styrofoam bees fly around wildly, when air from Honey’s tummy is expelled into the nipple. I cobbled together the bottle, from plastic bits and pieces, and lined it with colored acetate to create the illusion that it was filled with honey. Then, I added a pair of lightweight Styrofoam bees.
After I gave the porotype to KISCOM, I never saw Honey Ba-Bee Bear again. Sometime later, my partners mentioned to me that she had been picked up by a toy company in England. Why I still have her bottle, or why it was returned to me, is a mystery.
Years after that, I drove down to KISCOM’s office in New Jersey, for the last time. At that moment, our relationship was waning, nearly terminating. Later, a final project that I undertook and executed on my own, without their input, called, “Friendz n’ Family,” rekindled it again. At any rate, on this occasion, I ran into an actual manufactured sample of Honey Ba-Bee Bear. Afterwards, I wrote about this event, in a letter to a friend;
“I entered the conference room, and looked at some of the products, sitting around. A Teddy bear, high atop a cabinet caught my eye. Its strange mouth looked familiar. I reached up and took it down, squeezed it, and it let out a loud “GRRRRRRR,” which was more like farting than ferocity. I realized that it was my product. I had never seen a manufactured one before. By then, it was already several years old. It was sold in Europe, and it did make some modest money. It was neat! I fell in love with it!
The meeting, which was an unpleasant one, and, at moments, angry, lasted all afternoon. It went on and on, and then, when it was time to leave, I said, “By the Way, I WANT THAT BEAR!” “Oh,” said Andy, “That is the only one we ever got.” I said, “Then it should go to ME.” He gave it to me reluctantly.”
And here he is! Along the way, Ms. Honey Ba-Bee Bear became a he, which seems to be a fashionable trend, these days. His embroidered scarf informed me that his name is “Grumly.” How British! His look is quite generic. Well, what could I expect? I gave them a generic bear to begin with. Nonetheless, the rewarding way he works is quite fantastic. His belly is a giant bellows. At the slightest squeeze, Grumly lets out a resounding grumble that varies from a gentle rumble to a mighty blast, like a serious case of gas.