Now in order for you to understand what happened next, I must set up the situation, by, once again, explaining and amplifying on the "inside-outside" aspect of toy inventing. I touched upon this in the Baby Face story. Not only, do most toy companies have their own in-house product development group, but this group is to some degree in competition with the outside inventors. At the same time if a product IS accepted from the outside, it is usually, the job of the inside group to embrace [sometimes reluctantly] the product and carry it to completion.

In many larger companies there is also, a sort of middleman, whose job it is to view outside submissions and find suitable products for the company to acquire. Thus, there is an unspoken competition between this person, whose job depends upon finding outside products, and the inside product group, who the company would hope could come up with better ideas themselves ... ideas that they wouldn't have to pay a royalty for. At Fisher Price the person, who acts as a liaison between inventors and the company, happens to be a Great guy named Peter Pook. Over the years Peter has discovered and brought many fabulous and innovative products to Fisher Price.

Peter liked my drawing of the dolls, which we called "Mop Tops", so much, that he volunteered to finance their metamorphosis into "Real" rag dolls. Meaning that Fisher Price would contribute several thousand dollars to hire a young lady, adept at doll design, to translate my drawing into "the real thing."


 

 

This was an offer and a chance too good to pass up. But I knew that it wasn't going to work! It was my belief that if the drawings were made into "conventional" Rag dolls they would look like the sort of home made dolls one sees sewn and donated by well intentioned ladies to be raise funds at church bazaars. I was not about to let this opportunity slip through our fingers, therefore, while a very talented doll designer worked on exactly what Fisher Price had ordered, and I corresponded with her extensively via phone and fax, sending drawings back and forth, etc., I also, undertook to create my own version of the dolls, as thought they Should be done.

What I hoped to achieve was something that would have the charm and feel of a rag doll but at the same time, look manufactured, and not like something that was "made at home". I began by sculpting a head and casting it in latex. When the first latex head had dried and shrunk, I made another plaster mold from that, and cast another smaller head from the second mold. Then I did it again from that head, to get a third, even smaller, head that I hoped would work as a baby. 

The first and second size heads worked great, but the baby was wrong. It was, not at all as cute as the drawing. It was just the same head but smaller. I later got the chance to re-sculpt the baby head as the project continued. But for now, there was no time to do anything but use the third head as it was.

I flocked the three heads to exactly match the color and texture of the fabric I was using on the bodies. Then I sculpted little sneakers in two sizes and cast them in latex. For the baby I made Sculpy shoes. And assembled the whole thing with soft bodies and diapers and shoes stuffed with "beans" for weight. The arms and legs were stuffed with polyester, just firmly enough to allow the dolls to stand.

For hair I dyed actual "mop" and rooted it into the latex scalps one strand at a time. And then I sewed little outfits, alas, having committed myself to how they should look in the drawing, I couldn't just go out and shop for them.

Well, Here is a photo in which you can see how the traditional Rag Dolls turned out, and I trust that you, just as Fisher Price did, will reject them in a heartbeat. They looked exactly the way I feared they would, Ho-Hum and Homemade.

Click on any of the photos to see a larger picture.

But Peter Pook fell in love with my dolls, and so did I. Here are several shots of them photographed against the original drawing the day that they were finished and ready to show. The close ups will show the flocked texture of the faces clearly, and how closely it matched the fabric of the bodies.

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Copyright Acknowledgment: All images of Baby Face and other Products and Images, created by Mel Birnkrant, are Copyright Kiscom, Birnkrant