Playful Pup

Tugger was a Quick Project. He consisted of the sketch you see here, colored {mostly brown} and a working model. We had shown similar sketches before and received a favorable reaction, but it was clear that a model would be required to sell it.

The model which took me two days to build, was a two speed vibrating motor that operated by a two phase switch in the dogs mouth. A sock was attached to the switch. I installed the mechanism in a stuffed dog I bought in a card shop. Kiscom showed it to Playmates and they liked it.

Most of the things I do, tend to be based on a strong Look, rather than a strong idea. Tugger on the other hand is a good example of the theory that if something is a good idea the look isn't all that important. At least, Playmates seemed to embrace that theory. And as a result, they did a great job on engineering the mechanism and sound.

Tugger really works and sounds great and plays a convincing interactive game of tug-of-war. But it is clear, that Playmates were not concerned how he looked.

The product suffered from un-imaginary styling and a generic look that didn't even come close to looking like my model or my sketch, which wasn't intended to do much more than show the concept, But still looked cuter than what they produced.

Playmates did produce an adorable commercial with a singing dog, who in the end is seen playing tug-of-war with Tugger! Tugger came out last year and had a good run. For some reason Toys R Us never did well with him. but Target and Walmart were very pleased. I even found one poor little guy with his batteries worn out and his box smashed a few weeks ago in Walmart's and felt so sorry for him that I had to take him home!

I'm told that Playmates intends to reintroduce Tugger this year, as a dog who appears in some sort of movie, I don't recall what it is, but I'll let you know, When and If, it really happens! Notice, I'm Not Holding my Breath, but I do have my Paws Crossed!

Best, Mel

Postnote: Tugger was re-introduced Christmas 2002 as the Grinch's dog. He had a stocking cap in his mouth instead of a sock, and reindeer antlers on his head. When you pulled on the cap, he growled. However, they did not put the wiggly mechanism inside so the new version of Tugger did not go into a frenzy of pulling and tugging.


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