Copyright Acknowledgment: All images of WEENIES and other
Products and Images, created by Mel Birnkrant and Mike Strouth are Copyright (c) KISCOM/ The OBB
In 1987 “Multi-Toys Corp.” a relatively modest toy company located in Cresskill New Jersey with Main Offices and Factories in Hong Kong attempted to reincarnate the Bunville Weenies. It was a valiant effort on the part of the company’s president, a great guy named, Murray Pottick who proved to be a true friend of KISCOM. Murray ran the American branch of the company singlehandedly, but more than that he was a dreamer, and there was no challenge that he would not boldly undertake. “MTC,” as the company was also known had a showroom in the toy building in New York City. Alas, one thing they didn’t have was the wherewithal to advertise the products they made on TV. But their aspirations, like their annual catalogue were huge. The 1987 edition was packed full of products that Murray licensed from KISCOM. Among them, were six full pages of Weenies.
Murray announced his Toy Fair Presentation with this colorful invitation featuring Joe Baloney and an attractive young lady. This was definitely not the world of Fisher Price! But it was consistent with the old time toy industry tradition that Multi-Toys personified. It was a world of hardcore businessmen, who gathered at the New York Toy Fair once a year to make a living, and hopefully have a good time.
Although, Multi-Toys was as small as the once great Coleco had been big, in some respects their product development facilities, located in the Orient, had more talent and ability than Coleco’s did. The Weenies merchandise that they came up with, was as good as anything that Coleco had been planning. And the individual Weenies figures fashioned directly from Coleco’s models were amazing! They looked identical to Coleco’s toys and the packaging was more attractive.
It was wonderful to see the Weenies realized in the form of actual products. It was also slightly sad. Wonderful, because they were so nicely done. Sad, because there was no way in the great scheme of things that they could possibly succeed. Multi-Toy’s lack of promotion and limited distribution was a tough obstacle to overcome. Added to that, the intrinsic problems inherent in the Weenies had not gone away. Although the products were appealing and well done, nobody knew who the Weenies were and furthermore, they didn’t’ have a gimmicky feature that screamed to anybody passing them in Toys-R-Us, “Buy Me!” Without a TV special or Saturday Morning TV to introduce them to the public, they just hung there in the toy store, waiting for me to mosey by and buy some. And, over the months that they were there, I moseyed by a lot! I believe that in the end, I personally purchased all they had, every Weenie in Poughkeepsie!
Here are some of the figures! As you can see, the packages were very pretty! Some still have the price tag on them, which is evidence that they actually appeared at Toys-R-Us. Alas, the shipments that they got did not include the entire set. There was obviously a second assortment of six, as well as the Wee Weenies, that our local store was never sent.
The backs, which were the same on every package are worth examining up close. They tell the entire story with Bunville and all the main characters looking attractive.
What was the customer reaction? Well, imagine bendable figures of the Simpsons, hanging on the racks of Toys-R-Us if there had never been a TV show. Unless Matt Groening came by to buy them in person, they would be hanging there forever.
I saw the full line fully realized in Murray’s showroom. It was Fantastic! All the figures and everything, including a few weird ugly items that the factory came up with on their own, like this strange and strangely unattractive variation inspired by Mr. Potato Head. You might know they would make it to our local toy store. Just my luck! The red labels disclose the fact that they were on close-out before I could convince myself to pick them up. Today is the first time I touched them. Actually, they're kinda fun!
I only got one sample of the dolls Multi-Toys made. They never showed up at our local Toys- R-Us! But I did by chance get Joe Baloney from Murray. He is the one I would have picked anyway if I could have just one.
Here are the catalogue pages. It really was an extensive line and a valiant try! Then, last of all, after you see these, I'll show you something that is simply great.
Of all the items that I drew for the Weenies, these small vehicles were always my favorite, Here is the final pencil drawing. If you pass your Mouse over it you will see the original drawing that took place at the moment of their creation. It began as a single quick pencil sketch that I then refined and clarified with marking pen. When I was drawing these I never thought they would become reality.
My God, how I love these! They are the sweetest realization of any Weenie thing I’ve ever seen. I believe they are just prototypes, which means that they are all handmade. I am so grateful that Fate and Murray handed them to me. They offer a glimpse tinged with a touch of melancholy of just how wonderful the Weenies might have been.
This can’t have been the only set as here we see what the fully printed package would have looked
like. A tiny voice keeps telling me that there is a possibility that these were actually manufactured. Certainly
there were printed packages!
As we approach the final page, I am still wondering why I undertook this website in the first place. Perhaps, I have been seeking that elusive thing that I hear about all too often on the news these days, “Closure,” although, I’m not too sure exactly what that means. It’s usually mentioned when someone dies or disappears, and then, their remains are recovered after many years. Yes, I can see how the word might apply here. And yet, unlike most half remembered dreams, in this one I was actually able to grab some souvenirs and bring them back into the Waking World with me. This is the stuff that I scooped up as I was returning to reality. This precious handful of Weenie Vehicles is compelling evidence that the Bunville Weenies were more than just a dream.