Babbling Babies!

Created by Mel Birnkrant (above)


Produced by Unimax (below)


The photos below show the unfinished sculpy dolls next to the
dolls that Unimax actually produced.

Peekaboo!! (note the head was swapped with the next one...)

Bashful!! (Her cheeks light up.)

Tickletoes!! (Her feet light up.)

Cha Cha!! (Her rattle lights up.)

Hungry!! (Her tongue lights up.)

Sneezy!! (Her nose lights up.)


Prototypes

This photo shows latex castings of the babies. They are a little rough.
The sculpy models shown above are more finished. Mel had the Oodles
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 change.

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 electronics.

This prototype doll was not produced.  The other six were.


Distribution

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!


Lights Out

Night, Night I love you!! Bye Bye!! Night, Night!


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Web page design by Cynthia Stevens.
Information in this document is subject to change without notice.
Products and companies referred to herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or mark holders.
All photos of the prototype dolls are copyright 2001 Mel Birnkrant and Kiscom Inc.