Created by Mel
The photos below show the
unfinished sculpy dolls next to the
dolls that Unimax actually produced.
the head was swapped with the next one...)
cheeks light up.)
feet light up.)
Cha Cha!! (Her
rattle lights up.)
tongue lights up.)
nose lights up.)
This photo shows latex castings
of the babies. They are a little rough.
The sculpy models shown above are more finished. Mel had
in mind when he sculpted these dolls.
Mel created the prototypes but
then had to work out an application
for these adorable dolls...
Originally they were going to
be squeeze toys.
Mel designed the little hangtags (above) as examples.
Eventually, the creative team
decided to give the dolls electronics so they could
talk and light up. By the time the creative team had
completed the electronics and sample scripts for the
dolls, they were calling them the "Talk and
Listen" babies because the dolls are
interactive. They respond to you and to each other.
When Unimax bought the
concept dolls, they changed the name to Babbling
Babies. Mel and Kiscom thought that was a good
Mel wrote the scripts for the
Babbling Babies. He dashed off some notes with
suggestions on what the Babblers might say. He
assumed that a professional team would review and
develop those suggestions into something more
sophisticated, or appropriate, or appealing etc. So
Mel was very surprised when his "notes"
were used almost verbatim in the language programs.
Unimax did use Mel's head
sculpts for the final dolls, but they re-sculpted the
bodies. Mel's prototype bodies were not jointed, as
the final dolls are. And, Unimax possibly needed to
redesign the bodies in order to accommodate the
This prototype doll was not
produced. The other six were.
The Babbling Babies did not
receive wide distribution in the U.S. Only K-mart
sold them as far as we know, and not all the K-Mart
stores had them. "Mel Collectors" had a
hard time finding any. Unimax would not sell direct.
So this was a frustrating experience for those who
know and love Mel's toys. We are convinced that the
dolls would have done very well IF they had actually
landed on store shelves.
We heard that Unimax was
going to make a second production of the dolls with a
darker skintone because the first production of the
Babbling Babies turned out to be very pale. However,
we don't know if the dolls were actually produced a
second time. Unimax distributes world-wide so it's
possible that the Babbling Babies have had a better
life and future outside the U.S.
Later the same year, KB Toys
ordered the dolls for an "impulse" item,
and put them in a display box near the checkout. The
KB clerks got very tired of the Babbling Babies: they
would groan whenever a customer started the babies
talking. Once started, they keep each other going...
and it takes several minutes before these happy
talkers run out of things to say!
Night I love you!! Bye Bye!! Night, Night!