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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Toys, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 328
1. The Weenies

If you've never heard of "The Weenies," that's because it's the toy and cartoon phenomenon that almost happened, but got cancelled before it fully rolled out.


The concept was developed in 1983 by Mel Birnkrant, Mike Strouth, and Kiscom, and then purchased by Coleco to be the next big thing after Cabbage Patch Kids.

The project got very far along, with an animated TV special scripted and storyboarded, and toy prototypes and packaging all ready to go, but financial problems at Coleco nixed the project.


One of the artists who created the Weenies, Mel Birnkrant, has written a fascinating blow-by-blow account of how he and his colleagues developed the idea in a cascade of creativity, and the ups and downs of what happened along the way. 

It's a must-read for anyone involved in developing an animated series or toy concept or anyone interested in the behind-the-scenes workings of popular culture in the 1980s.

Mel Birnkrant is one of the foremost collectors of classic comic character toys. His design for the Weenie characters was inspired by the cartoons of the 1930s. 

Birnkrant was a friend of Disney animator Ward Kimball, and Birnkrant himself is a gifted cartoonist who turned down a job offer at the Disney studios when he was starting his career. 

In the story of the Weenies, there are many lessons for artists and animators, such as the effect on the character's personality of a bending-forward spine versus a bending-backward spine.

While you're at Birnkrant's site, you can also check out the story of his better-known toy creation, The Outer Space Men.
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The Story of the Bunville Weenies (online by Mel Birnkrant)

0 Comments on The Weenies as of 10/14/2014 11:27:00 AM
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2. Want: Gertie the Dinosaur and Winsor McCay Figurine

This Gertie the Dinosaur and tuxedoed Winsor McCay garage kit is especially appropriate in 2014, the 100th anniversary of McCay's seminal animated film.

0 Comments on Want: Gertie the Dinosaur and Winsor McCay Figurine as of 9/30/2014 6:23:00 PM
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3. Free Comic Book Day Promotes ‘Alien’ Metal Dildo Doubling as a Bottle Opener

I think the money makers at Diamond Select Toys are secretly testing the market for an upcoming adult toy line.

The Free Comic Book Day Facebook page posted a typical a nerd baiting question with no possible answer: who would win in fight between Spider-Man’s most popular nemesis Venom or the cult classic 80’s extraterrestrial nightmare Xenomorph? Of course this wasn’t a sponsored post to promote Diamond Select Toys wide variety bottle openers, but it sure as hell looks like it. The comments are full of well informed, substantial arguments on who would come on top. But some Facebook users couldn’t help to mention the fact that the Xenomorph opener bares a striking resemblance of a penis.

alienvsvenom Free Comic Book Day Promotes Alien Metal Dildo Doubling as a Bottle Opener

How could Venom fare against Xenomorph’s veiny, long shaft and bulbous mushroom tip? I couldn’t image using this cold metal bottle opener bringing any kind of pleasure aside from opening a cold brewski, but the people of the Internet will find a way. Nonetheless, you can’t but help but appreciate the H. R. Giger work on the Alien series. Diamond Select Toys would like to remind you that Christmas is around the corner, and this would make a good stocking stuffer. Talk about gag gifts. *This was not a sponsored post by Diamond Select Toys.*

alienopener Free Comic Book Day Promotes Alien Metal Dildo Doubling as a Bottle Opener

5 Comments on Free Comic Book Day Promotes ‘Alien’ Metal Dildo Doubling as a Bottle Opener, last added: 9/15/2014
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4. Transformers are going to get “Angry”

I'm pretty sure these Transformers would like some noms too.

I’m pretty sure these Transformers would like some noms too.

“Mom, what’s for breakfast?”

“Well honey, we have pancakes, bacon, potatoes, Decepiticons…”

If you were a kid from the 80’s, 90’s, or still a kid at heart, then you’re most likely familiar with Transformers. You know, “Transformers: More than meets the eye.” In honor of the franchise’s 30th anniversary, Hasbro Toys treated some eager reporters and fans to a breakfast this morning at Southpaw in San Diego’s Downtown Gaslamp area. I’ve heard of character breakfasts, but never one that dealt with robots.

All throughout the bar/restaurant, we were treated to Transformer toy splendor. Arranged along the bar area was private transformers collection that included some originals from the 80’s, Beastwars, and even some rocker themed ones I’ve never seen before (all posed on a 1984 “Planet Cybertron” poster). On the outside dining tables was a selection of the larger ones that transformer as you spin their parts. And there was even a buffet style “Mashem’s” table. Transformers Mashem’s are figures that allow the appendages to be swapped with other robots, allowing for some pretty creative robot making.

What I was most excited about were the videogames that Hasbro has in store for the Transformers brand. A few things are in the works, one of which is an online MMO called Transformers Universe. The computer based game features opened world areas that you can explore either as Autobots or Decepticons that are unique to the game. You can go hunting for Energon, fight wild Terracons, or even participate in 4 versus 4 pvp in either a death match mode, or a modified capture the flag. But instead of capturing flags, you try to steal the opposite team’s Energon.

To add another layer to the game, players can use Energon to craft items, or collect items by defeating enemies. The items can do various things, like boost stats for a continuous duration of time. The game is free to play, but if you are feeling a little impatient and don’t want to wait out the time it takes for your items to be made, you can purchase relics. Relics are in game currencies that are available as pickup items, so you can go throughout the duration of it without having to spend a dime. But like I said, if you’ve got better things to wait on, then they are purchasable with real world money. Currently Transformers Universe is in open beta. There is no set date yet for the actual release. Visit www.transformersuniverse.com to check it out for yourself.

Even bigger for the video gaming market is the crossover in the works. Transformers will be pairing up with the widely popular, widely recognized Angry Birds franchise. Unlike other Angry Birds games, this won’t be the typical drag and launch game featuring different themes. Angry Birds: Transformers will be a side scrolling shooter where the transforming birds and pigs have to fight enemies along the way. Another interesting addition is the cars that will be available for purchase. These transforming vehicles can be photographed, and then downloaded for use in the video game. The toys themselves will also have physical tracks available for them, so there will be more for them than just as downloads for the game. No release date is yet set for Angry Birds: Transformers.

1 Comments on Transformers are going to get “Angry”, last added: 7/27/2014
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5. San Diego Comic-Con Animation Open Thread

San Diego Comic-Con 2014 begins tonight. If you have an animation-related project or merchandise that you want attendees to know about, post it in the comments.

0 Comments on San Diego Comic-Con Animation Open Thread as of 7/25/2014 12:40:00 AM
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6. (birthday) gift for danny!!!

©the enchanted easel 2014
so, every now and then i come across a story that really moves me on a ton of levels. and, when it has to do it with a child (albeit, a sick one too) well, let's just say my heart strings never recover.

i came across this story http://6abc.com/201528/ late last night while resting my painting arm (inflamed the area a bit working my little tail off) and i knew i had to do something for this sweet little boy. (i mean really? look at that FACE!) so, i rose from the couch and opened up photoshop to personalize a print of a custom painting i had done two years ago for my dear friend's little boy, shane. i had painted shane's name on the actual blocks at that time but was smart enough to scan it beforehand without the name...just in case i ever needed to personalize it for some reason.

and little danny nickerson was that "reason". i mean how perfect was it right? the blonde hair, the exact number of blocks that were vacant...just waiting for danny's name to appear on them. and there it is....more than the birthday card(s) he's so anxiously awaiting in his P.O. box. i printed it out at a nice size and even matted it. all little danny has to do is frame it and hang it in his room. 

it's times like this that i realize just how amazing it is to have been given the gift that is in my right hand. after three c-spine surgeries, painting with constant nerve pain in that painting hand is not easy, that's for darn sure. but hey, the word "pain" is in "painting" right? so who am i to shy away from that? ;) i mean, yes, i always have a soft spot for young kids (16 years as a preschool teacher surely would back that up) but it's more than that. being able to create (art) work that makes a child smile and a parent even happier, well that's more than enough for me. no amount of money could put a price tag on something as priceless as that.

*if you read the above article, i encourage you to make a little boy's day and mail him out a birthday card....and just know that you've contributed to innocence and God's grace in it's purest form.*

off to get him a birthday card to widen the future smile that will surely come across his beautiful little face....:)

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7. Frank Miller and Eric So team for HK-style Sin City Marv

Marv 9.jpg

Frank Miller’s stylishly brutal Sin City is coming back with a new film this Summer, and so are the Sin City toys, as Dark Horse has announced an HK-styled Marv figure for September. The figure is designed by Erik So and will retail for $150.

The masters of two mediums come together with an all-new, limited-edition vinyl figure of Sin City’s beloved brute, Marv! This unique interpretation of Marv was created by Eric So, a master of modern design and a leader in the Hong Kong designer-toy movement. With the guidance of Frank Miller, So has sculpted a thirteen-inch vinyl figure that is unlike any that has come before it.
 
While best known for his groundbreaking toy designs, Eric So is also an accomplished designer in many other areas, such as men’s fashion and accessories. He is a legend in his native Hong Kong, and has made a name for himself worldwide.
 
In the same spirit as his previous collaboration with Dark Horse (a vinyl figure of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy) or his Nike-commissioned statue of Michael Jordan, So favors a humorous and cartoonish approach over realism. While Marv is depicted in his customary trench coat, he has been transformed through Eric So’s unique approach to angles and features. Still, the influence of Frank Miller’s signature style shines through.
 
Each figure is individually hand painted and comes with a pack of band-aid stickers, which collectors may affix to Marv as they like. Also included is a certificate of authenticity, signed by both Frank Miller and Eric So.
 
“Besides the figure itself, the packaqe is innovative and fun” noted Dark Horse vice president of product development, David Scroggy. “Eric has come up with a gray translucent plastic blister that is the flat front of the box. The Marv figure inside is visible in silhouette. The outer surface is over-printed in white, creating the illusion of a shadowy Marv walking in the snow. This was inspired by Miller’s classic Silent Night story. It is a striking package design.”
 
Frank Miller is widely acclaimed worldwide for his comic work and boasts multiple Hollywood successes, including two adaptations of his masterwork, Sin City. Marv is one of Sin City’s most memorable characters, in both comics and film.
 
This beautiful thirteen-inch piece will be produced in a limited run of 950 and will arrive just in time for the release of Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. Mark your calendars for September 10, when this figure goes on sale for $150.


Marv 4.jpg

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1 Comments on Frank Miller and Eric So team for HK-style Sin City Marv, last added: 6/26/2014
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8. Weeds into Toys

Arrowhead Weed toy

Hi again folks. What have you been up to? I hope it’s getting warm and green wherever you are.

Here in Charlotte it’s very warm now, too warm, but it’s been exciting to see all the flowers make an appearance, and inevitably, there are lots of weeds popping up, too. Lately I’ve been thinking about the things my friends and I used to do with various weeds when we were kids.

  • There was the weeds-into-pop-guns trick, pictured above (arrowhead weeds, I just learned they’re called).
  • Clover chains
  • Trying to make a grass blade whistle (okay, not weeds, but still counts)
  • Of course making a wish on dandelion heads

Know any others?

I’ve been so focused on my writing goals that I haven’t been doing a lot of crafts and (interesting) cooking, though I do have a few things l’d like to share in the coming weeks. Our last day of school is today, which means my schedule will be quite a bit different from here until the end of August.

I’ll try to be here as much as I can, but you may find me more frequently on Twitter and Instagram, since those are easy for quick snippets. My Twitter handle is @emilysmithpearc and I’m on Instagram as Emily Smith Pearce.

Good news! I reached the goals I set for myself with both my nonfiction and YA novel manuscripts. This is big. So much writing done this year, though it’s easy to wish I had gotten even more done.

Currently reading: The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger and The Great Green Heist by Varian Johnson (both purchased at Park Road Books). Currently watching: Game of Thrones and Orange is the New Black.

 


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9. Hasbro offers exclusive Infinity Gauntlet at Comic-Con

1400781403000-Infinity-Gauntlet-PKG.jpg

Want.
Hasbro’s Marvel exclusive are EXCEEDINGLY “cosmic” this year:

Priced at $99.99, a set of Marvel Legends Infinite Series 6-inch figures is based on the Marvel story line “The Thanos Imperative” — included are theInhumans’ Black Bolt and Medusa, Gladiator, Blastaar and Star-Lord from theGuardians of the Galaxy. They all arrive in a special-edition box designed to look like the Galactus Engine from the comics.

Another pack of 3¾-inch figures ($74.99) comes from the classic miniseries TheInfinity Gauntlet and features Nebula, Starfox, Mistress Death and the cosmic villain Thanos, who comes with his own Infinity Gauntlet. But he’s not the only guy who gets one — Marvel’s looking out for fans, too, by including a wearable foam Infinity Gauntlet glove in case you want to rule outer space yourself.


You’ll want to have these around when AVENGERS 2 opens for sure.

2 Comments on Hasbro offers exclusive Infinity Gauntlet at Comic-Con, last added: 5/23/2014
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10. Cuddling up to Nightbear by Rebecca Patterson

nightbearcoverThere are lots of recipes for great picture books but Rebecca Patterson has certainly worked out one of the best set of ingredients. She takes a good dose of humour, a non-patronising, reassuring, sincere child’s-eye view of the world and adds in highly observant illustrations and a sprinkling of drama. She did it with the Roald Dahl Funny Prize winning My Big Shouting Day!, the brilliantly perceptive My Busy Being Bella Day, and has pulled it off once more with her latest book, Nightbear.

An old bear has arrived at a new home; the book opens with us following him from the factory where he was made, to his first (and unappreciative) home, to a charity shop where he is eventually bought by a young girl out shopping with her mum. The bear is thrilled to have been chosen, but how will he fit in, when he discovers that the girl already has lots of teddy bears with very important roles in her life?

A heartwarming, delightful story not just about having a great teddy bear to hug, but also about the importance of having someone listen to your stories, and the reassurance that comes from being ‘picked’, about the everyday, real worries a young child can have (from nightmares, to being ill in the night), and most of all about the enormous fun to be had with imaginative play, Nightbear is a perfect picture book.

patterson

Starting with the gorgeous, dark sparkly cover, this book is so much fun to look at as well as to listen to. Patterson draws with a delightful, fluid simplicity; lots of smooth curves abound – as if echoing the cuddliness of the bears, and the warmth of the family. Some of the tiny details in the illustrations are like poems; they ring true in an uncluttered, authentic way that makes you see them anew, for example the way the mother holds the hand of the child when they’re browsing in the charity shop, or the manner in which the father holds the hair of the child whilst she is being sick.

A book every nursery and infant school should have, a book every charity shop should use to make a brilliant, eye catching window display, a book every family with young children will enjoy, Nightbear is an ideal book to cuddle up with.

Feeling sad at the thought of all those unloved teddy bears leading lonely lives on charity shop shelves we armed ourselves with 50ps and went off with a mission to each rescue and bring one home.

teddy1

This one (above) looked pretty comfy.

teddy4

This one looked rather resigned to its fate.

teddy3

These two had fallen over and were asleep when we saw them.

teddy2

This one was too expensive.

But eventually we each found a teddy that we loved, came home, and celebrated by dressing them up (as happens in Nightbear). I’m rather jealous of the bustle and headgear newly named ‘Treacle’ got to wear:

teddy5

Little ‘Buttercup’ got a pretty nifty hat:

teddy6

But ‘Candy’ stole the show with her badges and slides…

teddy7

Whilst dressing our teddies we listened to:

  • Stompy the Bear by Caspar Babypants
  • Freddy Bear, The Teddy Bear by Ralph’s World
  • Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear by Elvis Presley

  • Other fun activities to get up to alongside reading Nightbear include:

  • Making a patchwork blanket. Even the youngest kids can have fun making a paper collage out of coloured squares, whilst older kids could paint fabric in blocks of colour (thinned down acrylic paint is great for this if you don’t want to get dedicated fabric paint).
  • Having a Teddy Bears’ Picnic! A blanket, some bears, some biscuits… oh and a good book or two and you’re all set!
  • Ready Baggy Brown by Mick Inkpen for another great view of a teddy bear factory line
  • Enjoying these pictures of really old teddies and wondering what sort of lives they’ve led
  • Have you a favourite teddy bear? Or a teddy bear who is assigned a special job?

    Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher.

    4 Comments on Cuddling up to Nightbear by Rebecca Patterson, last added: 5/22/2014
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    11. Toy Collector Mel Birnkrant


    (Video link) I paid another visit to Mel Birnkrant's amazing collection of antique comic character toys and made this short video about how he got started collecting.

    Disney characters are ® and ©Disney Enterprises, Inc.
    During the visit, Mel showed me some of his most precious and wonderful animated toys, including the one he calls "Toothy Mickey," an extremely rare wind-up tin toy that he hasn't operated in more than 20 years. On the video you'll see Mickey turn around as his eyes change and his teeth come out.

    There's also a drummer Mickey and a dancing Mickey, and some unpainted wood crank-operated toys by Sonny Hatfield.

    I have dreams about all these toys, wonderful, strange dreams that inspire me in new directions as an artist.
    -----
    Read more on Mel's website about:
    Mickey Tin Toys
    The unpainted wood animated sculptures of Sonny Hatfield
    Little Sammy Sneeze and other one of-a-kind sculptures by Charles Ponstingl
    The Bisque Pyramid (with the huge array of small figures)

    Previously on GurneyJourney:
    Toonerville Trolley Toy
    Gus White's Puppets


    0 Comments on Toy Collector Mel Birnkrant as of 5/17/2014 7:08:00 AM
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    12. Toys that poo will never lose their appeal

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    For those longing for the days of Barbie’s crapping toy dog Tanner, we have very good news: there is a new generation of toy animals that take little toy dumps on command. Although this being 2014, the girls who own the pets are fashionable “Moxie Girls” and the lovable pets with “the silly poo” are a bunny a koala and a unicorn. It turns out unicorn poo looks a lot like a small plastic ball, which is a huge relief for all. Turns out the main varieties of toy turds are glitter, rainbows and jewels.

    These toys have been around for a while, but it reminds me that I should have investigated this phenomenon at Toy Fair more thoroughly. Dolls that wee and poo never really go out of style for children of any age who like to laugh.

    1 Comments on Toys that poo will never lose their appeal, last added: 3/20/2014
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    13. This is How You Review A Doll From Disney’s “Frozen”

    I’m not sure that this review convinced me that I need to buy an Elsa doll from Disney’s Frozen, but I give credit to reviewer Chad Alan for proving that doll critiques can be entertainig.

    (via @HeyBruceWright)

    0 Comments on This is How You Review A Doll From Disney’s “Frozen” as of 9/18/2013 1:56:00 AM
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    14. The Cardboard Factory

    Cardboard Crafts

    I’m not exactly sure where it started (maybe with the rocket? maybe with this book?), but over the course of the summer, our dining room became piled high with cardboard creations.

    I thought I’d share a few, in case they might inspire you or your kids. The center photo is the first guitar my son made. The others, clockwise from the top: a rocket, guitar  #2 and drum, shadow puppets, tube puppets, shadow puppet theater, and sword.

    Summer’s over, and the factory had to be cleaned up, but we make sure to have a small cardboard stash at all times for building material. For more kid’s crafts, click here.


    2 Comments on The Cardboard Factory, last added: 9/13/2013
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    15. Kickwatcher: The Scary Godmother Doll by Jill Thompson

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    Okay this is one project that really truly deserves all your support! IT’s The Scary Godmother Doll designed by creator Jill Thompson. As you can see from the pictures the detail and appearance is amazing. And for $5 you get A BRAND NEW JUST FOR THIS KICKSTARTER SCARY GODMOTHER COMIC.

    A brand new, 10 page, painted Scary Godmother story created specifically for this Kickstarter. Follow the Scary Godmother and her Monster pals as they make their way to the Spectral Six Convention! The first new story in quite a long while! Plus cool pinups by some of comicdoms most excellent artists! Like Jaime Hernandez, for example!! Available to you as a digital PDF! (Wanna be IN this comic? Check out the I’M READY FOR MY CLOSE UP incentive below!)

    
The project has raised some money but has a bit to go, so if you want to see one of indie comics most distinctive characters get a fantastic doll, go check out all the incentives.

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    1 Comments on Kickwatcher: The Scary Godmother Doll by Jill Thompson, last added: 9/6/2013
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    16. Chris Sanders Answers Your Mermaid Prayers

    Having trouble finding that very special mermaid statuette?

    Well, Chris Sanders (Lilo & Stitch, The Croods) can commiserate. “I’ve always kept an eye out for a mermaid sculpture that I really like. There’s a lot of them out there, but I could never find ‘the one.’ They were either too serious, too stiff, or just not very cute.”

    But unlike you, Sanders has decided to do something about it. “I’m pleased to announce the arrival of Nimue, the mermaid sculpture I’ve always wanted.”

    The first collaboration between Sanders and sculptor Anders Ehrenborg, Nimue (pronounced “Nim-way”) is “the right combination of fluid, cute and sexy” and presented in Sanders’ distinctive signature style. She is resin casted, stands 7.25 inches high and is being offered in two styles; blonde hair with a blue tail or green and green – a topless version of each color scheme is also available in limited quantities.


    “How many sailors would have given their last weevily biscuit to capture such a creature in their sea-chests?” Sanders muses.

    Fortunately, you won’t have to make such a sacrifice; online preorders have begun and all four prototypes will be on view at San Diego Comic-Con this week at booth #5532, between the convention hall entrances from Lobby B2 and Lobby C.

    0 Comments on Chris Sanders Answers Your Mermaid Prayers as of 7/16/2013 2:02:00 PM
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    17. DreamWorks Buys Trolls from Dam Things

    Ogres are so yesterday. DreamWorks Animation just announced that they have acquired the IP for the Trolls franchise from the Dam Family and Dam Things of Denmark. DreamWorks now becomes the exclusive worldwide licensor of the merchandise rights for the humorously-deformed Don King-hairstyled Troll Dolls, with the sole exception of Scandanavia where Dam Things will remain the licensor. The studio had previously announced that they were developing a Trolls feature.

    DreamWorks also announced that they have tapped American Girl veteran Shawn Dennis to lead the Trolls brand development. “Trolls is a brand with over fifty years of deep heritage and we are thrilled to bring this iconic, multi-generational property to DreamWorks Animation,” said Chief Operating Officer Ann Daly. “We have big plans for this franchise and Shawn Dennis is uniquely suited to lead this charge. She helped grow the American Girl brand into a household name and by bringing this expertise to Trolls she will introduce these characters to legions of new fans around the world.”

    Dennis joins DreamWorks from American Girl, where she was Senior Vice-President of Marketing (Product Development and Publishing). Prior to that, she was group head of global branding at Dell, and Chief Marketing Officer and Vice-President of the NFL.

    Calle Ostergaard, CEO of Dam Things, said, “DreamWorks Animation is renowned for telling wonderful stories about imaginative worlds while bringing characters with universal appeal into the hearts and homes of families everywhere – I can think of no better future for Trolls. We are confident that the time-honored legend of the Trolls, which holds such special significance to the Dam family and the people of Scandanavia, will now live on in new and exciting ways with DreamWorks Animation.”

    0 Comments on DreamWorks Buys Trolls from Dam Things as of 4/11/2013 6:28:00 PM
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    18. Bear With Me

    PSbearPeepsqueak LOVES BEARS!  …. and so do I!! I LOVE toys!  I love weird toys, stuff animals, special teddy bears, and more. Having three grandsons gives me a great excuse to buy MORE toys!  I took a trip to the thrift store just this week to look for action figures!  I ran them through the dishwasher and stowed in my big toy trunk.  Three more trucks are sitting near the book-case in the “YaYa” room.  Its great fun!  On Tuesday I played “Superhero”!  My youngest grandson loves the stuffies!  Including my own little Peeksqueak plush by Merry Makers.  If you want to order one, you can go to the website, or call them.

    retail orders online at http://www.merrymakersinc.com and retail and/or wholesale orders at 888-989-0454 or via email at merrymakers@merrymakersinc.com

    They are a great toy company.  I want ALL THEIR TOYS!  ha ha!

    You can also find Peepsqueak on his Facebook page.  I am going to have another book Give-A-Way as soon as the new toy gets here!  Peepsqueak and I are so excited!  I may also put it on this Word Press site so stay posted!

    giveaway


    Filed under: Just for fun, Kicking Around Thoughts, Peepsqueak!, Surprises

    1 Comments on Bear With Me, last added: 3/30/2013
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    19. One way to launch a library! (or 4 ways to celebrate World Book Day)

    If you were invited to design a school library launch, how would you go about it? What events would you want to facilitate? Who would you want to involve?

    These questions have been very much on my mind since the start of the year, for designing and delivering a school library launch is exactly what I have been asked to do by a local infant school. Can you imagine how excited I feel?

    It’s an honour to be asked and trusted by the school to design a whole day of activities and I’ve loved every minute of it so far. Library Launch day is February 12th and now we’re counting down the days…

    With apologies to NASA, whose original image I've modified.

    With apologies to NASA, whose original image I’ve modified.

    Having got to the stage where I’ve everything prepped and in place, I wanted to share my plans and resources with you as many of them are easily replicable in families, in classrooms, in clubs, anywhere would you might like to help young children and their families get excited about books. And with World Book Day coming up next month, you could take any of these ideas and use them to celebrate perhaps my favourite day of the year :-)

    Today I’ll share the activities the 3-5 year olds will be getting up to, and next week I’ll share the session plans for Year 1 (5-6 year olds) and Year 2 (6-7 year olds), although I believe many of the activities could be adapted to work with children of any age.

    ottoWe were keen to get as many children into the new library during the day as possible so each class of 3-5 year olds will spend one session going on a treasure hunt for book characters in the library. The basis of this session with be Katie Cleminson’s Otto the Book Bear, in which a bear in a book steps off the pages and into real life. Having read the book, kids (in pairs) will be given a treasure card to identify which books and book characters they need to find in the library.

    Some of the sheets of cards kids will be given so they know which characters to hunt for in the library

    Some of the sheets of cards kids will be given so they know which characters to hunt for in the library

    No doubt 30 kids hunting 30 soft toys is going to be quite chaotic! Once all the characters are found, the session will finish with a reading of one of the books found by the kids during the session.

    A couple of trips to charity shops resulted in a good number of soft toys that either were actual book characters (for example I found Paddington Bear, Pooh, and Poppy Cat without even really looking), then I raided my kids’ soft toys and chose ones which matched (near enough) great books. So, for example, I am borrowing a soft toy squirrel and teaming it up with A First Book of Nature, by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Mark Hearld.

    I supplemented these with a few extra official character soft toys (who wouldn’t love the excuse to get a Mog cat or Tiger who came tea toy?). Castlemere Books, based in the US, is the most comprehensive site I found for official book character soft toys, though I didn’t end up using them because of shipping costs to the UK.

    Some of the characters kids will be searching for in the library!

    Some of the characters kids will be searching for in the library!

    On returning to their classrooms the kids will paint/colour their own bookshelves and Otto the bear. You can download the shelves here and the bear here.

    shelvesandbear

    lululovesstoriesThe second session will be based around Lulu loves Stories by Anna McQuinn and Rosalind Beardshaw (follow the link to read it for free online). This is a gentle story about a child who is taken to the library every Saturday by her father. Each book they read together inspires different sorts of play, from being on a farm (having read about Old Macdonald) to making a pretend aeroplane (having read a story about going on an adventure).

    Each table in the classroom will be set up with a different activity taken from Lulu Loves Stories: there will be one with princess dressing up, one with farm animals and one with construction toys. A fourth table will be set up for each child to create their own library to take home, by selecting and gluing lots of images of children’s book covers onto these shelves.

    shelveswithscatteredbooks

    I’ve spent a fair few evenings cutting up old publishers’ catalogues to create enough “library stock”, but other than time in preparation, this activity has been very cheap to prepare with many publishers willing to send catalogues upon request. (If you were working with older kids you could simply give them the catalogues and ask them to do some fantasy shopping – seeing what books they themselves would chose for their library would no doubt be very informative.)

    On a fifth table children will be able to cut out Lulu bookplates. These are available as part of an activity guide on the US publisher’s website. Don’t be confused by the name change – Lulu (in the UK) becomes known as Lola (in the US), but this doesn’t affect the bookplates.

    This session will be rounded off by reading Lulu reads to Zeki also by Anna McQuinn and Rosalind Beardshaw, which is a simply delightful (and funny) window into a later stage in Lulu’s life;she now has a younger brother, and is passing on the love of books her father instilled in her to little Zeki, reading to him whenever possible.

    mylittlestorybookThe third session for the 3-5 year olds will open with a reading of I Love My Little Story Book by Anita Jeram, which is all about the delights you can find inside different books, and the various places they can transport you to.

    Each child will have the opportunity to make their own bunny which comes with a hidden story book of its own. It’s a simple collage activity to make the bunny out of an envelope, a pompom, some dried spaghetti, googly eyes and cardboard ears, all stuck on to an envelope, inside which each child will find a blank mini book (blue to match the one in the story). Kids will be encouraged to make the story book their own with whatever mark-making they like.

    rabbit

    bunnysbookThe mini books are each made from a sheet of A4 paper, using this technique, my favourite way of making small paper books as it requires no sticking or stapling.

    As well as there being tables set up with fairy tale activities (castles and knights to play with, dressing up, plastic animals in a forest play scene) kids will also be able to colour in and cut out several book plates designed by Anita Jeram.

    These are all available to freely download (as long as you’re not using them for commercial purposes) from this brilliant website, http://www.myhomelibrary.org/, created by former Children’s Laureate, Anne Fine.

    If time allows a reading of I like books by Anthony Browne will finish off this session. This is a very simple introduction to different types of books with just one sentence on each page. It’s a great reminder that there are all different sorts of books you can enjoy reading, not just story books.

    charlie-cook-s-favourite-bookThe fourth session of the day will be based around an all time classic, Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Once the story has been shared, each child will be given their own cardboard treasure chest to embellish with sticky jewels. I sourced some great treasure chests (from http://www.littlecraftybugs.co.uk/) so large that kids will be able to store favourite books inside them.

    treasurechests

    Elsewhere in the classroom during this session kids will have the opportunity to dig for buried treasure in a sandpit, make aliens out of green playdough, and play with plastic dragons, as well as the chance to colour in this Charlie Cook sheet which you can download from the official Gruffalo website, or to draw their favourite book on this Charlie Cook activity sheet from the US Scholastic website.

    This session will be wrapped up with a reading of We are in a book by Mo Willems – a perfect book for this age range where the oldest kids may well be able to join in with reading this funny story about what characters in a book think about their readers.

    And as well as all of this, all classes will have a session with the award winning author who is coming to join the school for the day… but more about this in a later post!

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    3 Comments on One way to launch a library! (or 4 ways to celebrate World Book Day), last added: 2/1/2013
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    20. First Look Toy Fair 2013: My LIttle Pony, Star Wars Black, One Direction, Iron Man, etc

    We'll have captions in a bit but here's a look at the Hasbro showroom some new stuff and classics and the biggest Transformer ever!

    0 Comments on First Look Toy Fair 2013: My LIttle Pony, Star Wars Black, One Direction, Iron Man, etc as of 2/9/2013 7:54:00 PM
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    21. Resurgent TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES among Toy of the Year winners

    While we sort through our 600+ photos from Toy Fair, here's the Toy of the Year winners, which includes both Lego's girl-centric Friends line and Playmates' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line, which we saw previewed yesterday. It's huge and no doubt the Turtles are back— although now owned by Nickelodeon and not creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. Still, it's a property that has stood the test of time to become a true perennial for kids — if Michael Bay's live-action version doesn't somehow kill it again, that is.

    1 Comments on Resurgent TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES among Toy of the Year winners, last added: 2/11/2013
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    22. Wooden Toys



    Wooden toy animals + their rides

    4 Comments on Wooden Toys, last added: 2/28/2013
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    23. I LOVE TOYS!!!

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbabyPS toy

    For as long as I can remember, I have LOVED toys!  To have a toy made from one of my cartoons is my dream come true!  It will help the world see my character the way I see him.  REAL!!  ha ha!  This series of plush Peepsqueaks in the pictures above, were the first proto-types that came to my home. Merry Makers is the toy company we worked with.  It was so fun to see my little Peepsqueak transform from page to puff!  He is such a cute little plush!!  Merry Makers did such a good job!  You can buy Peepsqueak now if you go to their website. They welcome retail orders online at http://www.merrymakersinc.com and retail and/or wholesale orders at 888-989-0454 or via email at merrymakers@merrymakersinc.com.

    Below is the final Peepsqueak. I just love him!  Isn’t he cute!!! I brought him to a preschool yesterday and the children loved him and all wanted to pet him…. so they did!!!!

    So order your Peepsqueak now!  He is waiting to live in your home!!!  Don’t forget, the books, “Peepsqueak”,  and “Peepsqueak Wants A Friend” are at your bookstore waiting for you too.  They would all make great gifts for the kiddies on Easter.

    IMAG1864-1


    Filed under: My Characters, Peepsqueak!

    2 Comments on I LOVE TOYS!!!, last added: 2/23/2013
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    24. Kick-Watcher: Michael Moreci on MINI COMICS INCLUDED

    One of the ways many people stumbled onto their first comic was through the promotional comics that used to come bundled in with action figures. You know the ones – you buy a He-Man figure, and in the box comes a comic which shows him in action, fighting against all the other characters who coincidentally also have action figures available too.

    Well, if you do remember those comics, then here’s a kickstarter for youMichael Moreci, Steve Seeley, and Tim Seeley’s MINI COMICS INCLUDED.

    Mini Comics Included will be a set of six mini-comics, which replicate the sort of comics which used to come packaged in with action figures and board games. Each drawn by a different artist, with Moreci and the Seeleys writing all six issues. And if you pledge towards the project, you can get your hands not just on the comics – but also on action figures which have been custom made to go along with the comics.

    I spoke to Michael Moreci about the project, and how it came into existence.

    mci2 Kick Watcher: Michael Moreci on MINI COMICS INCLUDED

    Steve:  Mini Comics Included are based on the comics that used to be enclosed in the box whenever you bought toys like He-Man action figures, or Transformers. What are your memories from those mini-comics?

    Michael: I have such amazing memories of Christmas morning, unwrapping presents with my older brother and revealing glorious He-Man action figures. We were into other stuff as well—I was especially a fan of the Super Powers figures—but He-Man was the alpha and omega of my childhood. Rick, my brother, and I would play with these figures all day long, making up stories, designing our own cartoon ideas, and acting them out. We’d cut up comics and paste new panels together that made little sense, but the stories were ours.

    As a matter of fact, I really think that’s the beginnings of my love of storytelling in general, the ability—and encouragement from my parents—to make stuff up on my own. To wonder, to imagine. I read so many comics—mainly the minis that accompanied He-Man figures—and watched so many cartoons that the structure of stories got ingrained in me at a young age.

    Specifically, with the comics, I was always hooked by the curiosity “what’s next?!” factor. Because, let’s face it, a lot of those comics were simply rad catalogues. Their whole purpose was to show off the next villain or weapon or whatever. Like, He-Man would suddenly bust out this underwater gear and, as an adult I’m like “where the hell did that come from? Dude’s  wearing a loincloth and nothing else…” But as a kid, my mind was immediately set to “must have!” mode. Luckily, my mom worked at a toy store, so I had a hook up.

    The comics were cool because, yeah, they were sometimes promo pieces, but they were also simple stories. They were just cool stories that enhanced the experience of being a He-Man fan, or a comic fan.

    Steve: Why recreate that style of comic, in particular?

    Michael: A lot of the discussions the three of us have regarding comics—and a lot of people have about comics—is the lack of fun, just pure, raw, fun. Guys like Kirby, Mantlo, Toth, you name it, were all exceedingly enthusiastic and had these wild imaginations. And that doesn’t exist all that much anymore. We’re too serious of an industry, like we won’t be regarded enough if we allowed our work to do all those wonderful things comics are capable of doing.

    Getting back on point – Steve, Tim , and I have all had this itch to do something that harkens back to this particular comic/cartoon/toy era that we love so much and influenced us so heavily. And we wanted to do it right—nothing watered down, nothing compromised. We want to take readers back to a time when comics were something to enjoy, pure and simple. You read them because you were like “oh my God, who is this new character?! Is he good? Bad? What does this mean?!” But, again, so much of comics, right now, is set in its ways. Stories have to be told in a certain way, for a certain audience, in a certain format. We’re breaking all those rules because, one, we want to do something fun and original and totally unique; and two, we absolutely know people want this. These are the comics we love, but they’re also the comics people want.

    Steve: You’ve worked with Steve Seeley frequently, with the current Hoax Hunters series at Image being one of the most high profile works. How did you all come together on this project in particular, and realise it was something you wanted to try and make a reality?

    Michael: Steve and I, and Tim, share a similar affinity for this era of nerd culture, that late 70s early 80s cartoon, comic, toy, etc.  I mean, we’re three 30s-ish geeks, how could we not?

    It’s not just that, though. We’re also creators who like to think outside the box, creatively and professionally. And doing a Kickstarter has been on our minds for awhile, but we wanted to do it right. Meaning, we wanted their to be a reason we were doing a Kickstarter, not just some cash grab to make good on our names. That’s lame.

    So, one night we were drinking—as we are wont to do—and kicking around ideas. We had something there, like we were scratching the surface. We knew we wanted it to be inspired by those comics and toys we loved, but that wasn’t quite enough. It still didn’t have that “okay, but why?” factor. And Tim hit it: Mini comics. Everything took off from there, making them a certain size, getting the toy designers on board, even the weird incentives. Because, truly, this isn’t something we could do anywhere else. Not like this. That’s is what makes it a perfect project for Kickstarter—we’re not just giving away art or head sketches or whatever. We’re all in on this the mini comics theme, and the drive is a ton of fun because of that.

    Steve: How has the process of working with the Seeleys been? Both on Hoax Hunters, and now with Mini Comics Included.

    Michael: Tim and Steve are like brothers to me. We work really well together because we share both common interests and common values. We’re workers, we’re that prototypical Midwestern no-frills get-the-job-done type professionals. We love what we do, but the cornerstone of how we operate is grounded in dedication to the work.

    Yet, as similar as we are, we’re also very different. We each bring something different to the table and, out of that, we refine the best possible product. That’s how Hoax Hunters is—Steve and I often have different sensibilities and have to find a middle ground; the process of doing so makes us really understand where we’re coming from on a story level, and the book is better for it.

    mci3 Kick Watcher: Michael Moreci on MINI COMICS INCLUDED

    Steve: So, to the comics in particular – how did you decide which characters to use for these stories? Did you have some of the characters in mind already, or did you create them just for this project?

    Michael: For the most part, yes. These were kind of pet projects that we knew, to some degree, would not thrive in the Direct Market system. This was an opportunity for us to cast off those shackles and say, “okay, we’re doing these stories right here, right now.” Steve and I have been chipping away at Prime-8s, and we had done an Omega Family short for Double Feature Comics awhile back. Tim had done a Colt Noble one-shot with Image awhile ago as well. His other two ideas are just exercises in weird and crazy stuff that Tim digs. So, beware.

    The main requirement, though, was to align the stories with the spirit of the project. This isn’t one big excuse for a vanity press—some stories didn’t make the cut. We were looking for a specific type of playfulness. For instance, Literary Commandos is a G.I. Joe riff; Prime-8s is kind of He-Man meets Ninja Turtles; Colt Noble has He-Man written all over it. The feel of the book matters. Without that, it doesn’t matter what size it is or what toy you may have purchased; the story, and art, has to function. Speaking of, the artists on these titles are incredible. Paul Tucker, Brent Schoonover, Sean Dove, Clint Hiliniski are all absolutely killing on these books, and we selected them because they’re such perfect, perfect fits.

    Steve: How long are each of the issues?

    Michael: Sixteen total pages for each comic.

    Steve: Are there any characters you’re particularly fond of? I couldn’t help but notice there is a frog cyborg, and I immediately need to know everything about this character, please.

    Michael: Ha, well, that’s actually a frog totoro, though easily mistaken as a cyborg. He’s the leader of the hyper-evolutionaries who make havoc for the Omegas. That’s all Paul Tucker—his design sensibility and playfulness are out of this world. Watch that name, he’s going places.

    Hmmm… favorites. Well, Dracula Man (from Superbeasts) is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard in a while. I love the Prime-8s villains, Dogtastrophe (you know, a play CATastrphe, get it?) and the K-G-Bee. And what’s not to love about a four-armed gorilla named Fourilla? There’s Marksman Twain, that’s a good one. Kikintha Balls…oh, and Daxxis from Omega Family. Love that Woolly Mammoth…thing.

    Steve: BUT! Has it been difficult to create characters who can match up to the might of The Street Sharks?

    Michael: Where would democracy be without them? And Battletoads?

    In terms of raw power, I’d need to wrap up Travis Bickle with Driver with a mutated dinosaur to enter the arena. Those were some badass sharks.

    mci1 Kick Watcher: Michael Moreci on MINI COMICS INCLUDED

    Steve: How tongue in cheek will the comics be? Looking back now, we’re aware that the comics were a way to try and sell more toys to kids – are you going to play with that, at all, or are you playing things straight? Is it tempting to try a more satirical approach with the stories, and wink at the readers?

    Michael: We sort of play with the stories. As mentioned above, we’re totally aware that these comics were often promo pieces, and that’s that. But one thing we absolutely did not want to do was get ironic with this. Nobody enjoys nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake. So we had to walk a fine of embracing the  idea too much and making it a sell aware wink at the tradition. I think the balance we have is a good one. We embrace it and honor what we’re working with, but make it our own as well, in a very loving way. Again, we want to recapture that feel of the time, and the best way to do so, we think, is to make it somewhat contemporary but retain the best sensibilities

    Steve: How do you see the project moving on, if this Kickstarter is successful? Could we see a second wave in the future?

    Michael: Oh boy…that’s like asking a woman who’s crowning if she’s thinking of having another kid. Okay, maybe not QUITE like that, but I’ve already had nightmares about the launch, and I’m writing this before actually doing so. I’m so thrilled about the project, but it’s also going to be a massive undertaking, from start to finish. I would love to do six more titles and make this a thing, and I think Steve and Tim would also. Right now, I’d say I’m hopeful. After all, we still haven’t told the story of the Blasteroids!

    Many thanks to Michael for his time. So, one last mention – you can find Mini Comics Included on Kickstarter here. You can also find Michael on Twitter here!

    0 Comments on Kick-Watcher: Michael Moreci on MINI COMICS INCLUDED as of 3/5/2013 7:34:00 PM
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    25. He’s Here!

    Peepsqueak For Everyone!

    Place your order online or by calling retail and/or wholesale orders at 888-989-0454 or via email at merrymakers@merrymakersinc.com.


    Filed under: Just for fun, My Characters, Peepsqueak!

    1 Comments on He’s Here!, last added: 3/13/2013
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