Copyright Acknowledgment: All images of WEENIES and other
Products and Images, created by Mel Birnkrant and Mike Strouth are Copyright (c) KISCOM/ The OBB
As Colorforms Creative Director, I sat in on many licensed property presentations. Some of these were quite impressive. By far, the best and most professional were those created by Hallmark. They were presented by Hallmark’s Licensing Director, a dynamic young lady named Cheryl Stoebenau. Remember that name! We will meet her again! Cheryl had a compelling presence and personality, and a haircut that resembled Tinkerbelle. Over the years, she had shown us several properties; the most successful being, “Rainbow Bright.” But the presentation that most impressed me was something called, “Once Upon a Garden” that Cheryl attributed to “David Kirschner,” who later did the Chucky movies. The main character was a rose, named “Rose.” Eventually, the property was picked up by Mattel, under the name, “Rose Petal Place”, and Rose was transformed into a human being, sort of a botanical Barbie.
I liked the way the presentation was put together. It consisted of a series of boards, introducing each character. And a spectacular “Knock Your Socks Off” Diorama, guaranteed to win over even the most critical viewer. Clearly, Weenies should adhere to the same formula.
So, I set about creating the character boards. There were thirteen in all, hand colored by yours truly. The character profiles at the bottom of each page were self-explanatory, funny, short and to the point. Adam, Andy and I wrote these together at our weekly meetings, and honed them down to razor sharp perfection.
And here's the Diorama! This is where Mike Strouth came in. The task of producing this big spectacular extravaganza fell to him. And he didn’t let us down. Mike created a Fabulous foldout Panorama of “Bunville” that was the Crowning Glory of the presentation. As a Grand Finale, it filled the bill many times over! Huge both in size and concept, the narrow confines of this screen can’t do it justice. Just pass your Mouse Over the image to see it unfold.
To this Andy and Adam added a written introduction, describing the characters and the situation, and suggesting a few possible stories. Those pages can be seen below. And with that, the Weenies were “Weady to Go!”
Reading these character descriptions, thirty years later, I find them quite amazing. No one will ever realize the hours of fun and discovery that went into to writing these. They truly bring the characters to life. The happy days that Andy, Adam, and I spent, together, getting to know the inhabitants of Bunville and delving deep into their souls were enchanting moments out of time, in which we left the real world far behind, as the Weenies became our new reality.
Bunville was the ideal America we knew and loved, and took for granted in those days. There was no need to debate its traditional values then. We foolishly believed that they were here to stay. Now, Bunville and all that it personifies is merely a memory of better times gone by. Meanwhile, you might skip that part and go directly to the character profiles if you really want to get to know the Weenies. But be forewarned, to know them is to love them.
A few days later, Andy and Adam walked into Coleco with the presentation that you see in its entirety above. And they walked out an hour later with a deal that exceeded and fulfilled our wildest Dreams. How can I convey the once in a lifetime wonderment of that occasion, the dizzying elation of that Magic Moment, in which Fate said “Open Wide!” and administered to us an overwhelming overdose of instantaneous and glorious success? Suffice it to say that it was an easy pill to swallow. Coleco offered us an advance and guarantee of five hundred thousand dollars. In 1984, that was a staggering amount of money! Naturally we said “OK!” Coleco was at the pinnacle of their game with the “Cabbage Patch Kids.” Now, they proclaimed that “The Weenies” would be their “Next Big Thing.”
MOUSE OVER TO OPEN