Sugar & Spice

 Here is the "Buzz" on Fuzzy Buzzies! There are a few links missing, but there is also a chance that I will be able to find or obtain them eventually! I'm going to start at the beginning, way back in 1981. Strawberry Shortcake had just been introduced, and Kenner, who had the toy rights, and wouldn't share them with Colorforms or any other non-conflicting companies. This is a little unusual, but as usual, characteristic of Kenner. For even though Kenner didn't make any product even, remotely like Colorforms, they didn't want a single dollar that walked into a toy store to be spent on anything but their products!

So I said to Andy and Adam who were running Colorforms at the time: "Never mind! We'll make Our Own Strawberry Shortcake!" Then, Mike Strouth and I got together and created "SUGAR and SPICE" It was contrived to be exactly like Strawberry Shortcake only "different". Instead of fruit we had candy, and as the big feature with Strawberry Shortcake was scents, we even added Scratch and Sniff patches to our play set.

We had a ball working on it. I found that my strength was in coming up with the characters and their names, [ their pup was called "Lolly Pup", I loved that one, and the cat was "Ginger Snap"] and determining what they consisted of visually, while Mike was great at doing the lively candy land, they lived in, and, as always, the finished art. He also did their faces! Alas, in the going cutesy style he had learned too well at Hallmark!

These are some S&S Christmas ornaments. Funny little things like this, continued to turn up, from time to time, for years after it was all over.

There was no time to spare and we ended up having to show Mikes hand drawn comp at Toy Fair, instead of finished art! This little offering raised quite a ruckus! Colorforms unlike many companies did not have a "closed" Showroom, and we noticed that one group after another from Kenner was coming in to, we thought, "admire" our work. Them, suddenly, a menacing letter from Kenner's lawyers arrived, threatening to sue Colorforms for Ripping them Off!

Well, they had a valid case, because we not only had outrageously parodied their property, but Mike had done the faces in "His" style, which just happened to make them identical to Strawberry Shortcake's faces. It was her and her friends in a change of clothes. Colorforms contacted Kenner and promised them that we would change our toy! And if they didn't agree that we had made it completely different from Strawberry Shortcake, we would drop it, altogether! Kenner said "Show Us!"

So I pulled the comp off the display and went home and drew the cover you see here in one hectic night! I changed the full figures to close-ups, then feature by feature I replaced the eyes, noses, mouths, every detail, with Their complete stylistic opposites! The drippy oval eyes became round, the closed smiley mouths became open with teeth, etc., etc., etc.! Then, I added a cute little birdie for good measure. And the next day It was placed before Kenner, and while all my changes still added up to exactly the same thing, a rip off of their property, they had to grudgingly, agree that it was, now, "completely different"!

 

The next thing that happened was Other Companies who couldn't get Strawberry Shortcake wanted to license Sugar and Spice. And Colorforms began a licensing program and dozens of companies signed up. Of course it never occurred to anyone that Mike and I, who had created this property, ought to share in any of the proceeds of our creation. I might also add that we were neither of us on Colorform's payroll and were both independent "outside" contractors, so we had not done it under the umbrella of being "employees".

The tension built until, finally, when I witnessed two individuals, whose names I will not mention, jumping up and down, rejoicing in the success of the Sugar and Spice licensing program, and shouting: "We're Rich!", that was the last straw. I consulted "a lawyer", my uncle, who really had more important things to do, as he was, not only president of the American Bar Association, but was also the attorney who came forward to defend Bernard Getz, the so-called "Subway Vigilante".

Mike and I felt that we had no choice, but to sue and depart Colorforms. It was at this time, wondering what I would do next, and having discovered from working on Sugar and Spice that creating "characters" was fun and that I had a knack for it, I sat down and began sketching the series of little drawings that were destined to, one day, become Fuzzy Buzzies! There was some joy in the process, as I was doing what I had hoped to do, if I had worked at the Disney Studios, after all. But a Dark cloud of anger and resentment hung over the effort, nonetheless!



Colorforms recanted and threw Mike and I a "bone", without ever learning how far we had traveled down the road to legal recourse. So, we stayed on, and the delicate and somewhat insecure little bug drawings went into a drawer, where, as can happen here in the Hudson Valley, they slept for twenty years.