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
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