Sunday, December 7, 2008


In Sleepover Friends #30 Big Sister Stephanie - Kate’s annoying little sister Melissa strikes up a temporary hero-worship of the always stylish Stephanie. Seeing her , as any fashion mentor would see her , as a new candidate for an overhaul , Stephanie happily hangs out with Melissa picking out her winter coat and matching boots in her favorite color trio , the very 80's Red , Black and White. Stephanie even pushes her to be in Kate’s new video and coordinates a dance routine , this starts to pall when Melissa quickly loses interest and insists on Noggin ( I laughed like crazy when I read that name Noggin! ) her stuffed animal being in the scene. Of course Stephanie is too cool to be seen dancing with an eight year old and a stuffed bear and calls it quits after an attempt to get her to let go of her stuffed animal and refocus.
I couldn’t help noticing that though Stephanie was commenting on how babyish carrying around a stuffed animal was , she is only in fifth grade and it probably wasn’t long ago that she was clutching her own teddy bear or doll , though knowing Stephanie I imagine she was a Jem & the Holograms collector! I had my own set of teddy bears and though I didn’t sleep with them - they had their own specially made beds , it brought to mind how very fashionable stuffed animals were in the

You had Gund - remember the catch-phrase Gotta get a Gund - banned because it sounded like Gotta get a gun , or Dakin , then it seemed like every cartoon character had their own stuffed replica. Here’s a small list - Wuzzles- they were a cross breed of two animals for instance Butterbear was cross between a butterfly and a bear and had wings and little flower antennae , Smurfs , E.T. ( everyone seemed to have a stuffed E.T. and the stuffed version with his big blue eyes was even cuter then the movie E.T. ) , Kissyfur , Foofur ( big blue hound dog ) , Purr-Tenders ( I always thought these were the lowest of the low marketing wise - they were mostly cats that wore masks pretending to be other animals so they would be adopted at the Pet store - too cute huh? And yeah like a feathery mask is going to convince me a cat is a bird. ) , Care Bears , pillow-like versions of Holly Hobby and Strawberry Shortcake , Ewoks - especially the adorable Wicket , Gummi Bears ( not the candy but the cartoon characters cute little guys from the knighthood era all with rhyming names - Grammi Gummi the old battleax gummi who couldn’t cook but knew how to make Gummi berry juice just right , Zummi Gummi the resident wizard wannabee who always fouled up his spells , Gruffi Gummi the bossy worker gummi , Tummy Gummi whose name gives away the fact that he loves to eat! Cubby gummi the youngest always up for adventure and Sunni Gummi the preteen whose blonde fur was whirled up top her
head like a perfect Vidal Sassoon , new wave haircut. ) , Rainbow Brite Sprites , The Get-a-long Gang - anyone remember these guys? ( they were based on characters made for greeting cards and were soon developed into a series ) the stuffed toys were rather stiff (along with their price ) but the great thing was they came with little removable roller skates! There were all kinds of Comic strip characters - Snoopy , Woodstock , Doonsbury , Ziggy , Heathcliff , Garfield. Muppet Babies - not just the ones that McDonalds offered , there were others before it , I got a Baby Fozzie for Christmas and the box was designed like a little high chair , super cute! Snorks - A rip off of the smurfs but I liked them , they looked like little , light bulbs with a bent little snorkle on top.
Teddy Ruxpin , Ducktales - Huey , Luey , Dewey and Webigail. My Pet Monster big blue furry monster - I thought the toy was bizarre looking but on t.v he was quite adorable. Alf , Winnie the Pooh , Shirt Tales ( another American Greeting card set of characters ) , Alvin & the Chimunks and other revivals of old characters ; Pink Panther , Flintstones - especially Dino , Bugs Bunny & all other Looney Tunes , not to mention Scooby Doo.) My Little Pony’s stuffed versions , Nosy Bears - with squeezable stomachs that made their see-thru plastic ball nose emit some sort of activity like turn a spiral ball inside , or shoot yellow plastic marbles from a minature popcorn container , Yawnies - bear or dog like things that had exaggerated yawning mouths and sleepy eyes ( cute but a bit of a bore ) , Popples ( I loved these guys - I’m not sure what they were kind of like patchwork day-glo bears with dog ears that had a pouch on their back so you could stuff them into a ball shape - the transformers for girls! They had cute names too - P.C. - Pretty Cool , Potato Chip , Party etc. ) Pound puppies - these were a pretty hot commodity for a while I think the toy spawned a show and not vice versa , one version of the toy had a little pouch inside the dog and when you purchased it there were little ‘puppies’ inside. Monchichi’s - awful , awful toy I hated these things everyone thought they were so cute - they were little monkeys but with strange little faces that seemed more kiddish than a Cabbage Patch Doll , Sesame Street characters ( and when Muppet Babies came out Sesame Street introduced baby Sesame Street characters , I had Big Bird but I cut off his bonnet and diaper? And used to make him little clothes and for some bizarre reason , I think it’s cause I couldn’t buy the real one I called Big Bird , Gonzo ) . Other character stuffed toys - Hello Kitty , Benji ( member the little dog mine came with a little plastic brush to keep his fur nice ) , Mickey Mouse - or rather Mickey Mouse Power - that’s what mine said on his t shirt , Pac-man and other arcade figures-Q-Bert , , Mario and Donkey Kong. Babar , Glo Worms and Lottsa Legs - really long bright caterpillars wearing fake colored sneakers on their cloth feet and terry-cloth legwarmers. Amtoy’s super pickle , Wrinkles , Keyper’s gimmicky toys - they had little plastic hollow centers with a key to lock away things ( all precious jewelry such as gumball rings and jelly bracelets) , Puffalumps , Hasbro Be Mores plush dinosaurs , Shamu whales , Roger Rabbit , Tyco Kitty Kitty Kittens , Yum Yums by Kenner ( bears and dogs and lions in pastel shades with candy printed tummies , ears and feet ), Kodak Kolorkins , Energizer bunny , Grabbits Kenner 1989 , Applauses' Sad eyed animals , Mattel Emotions animals - like Boo Hoo Hoo bear , Romper room characters like Kimble , Chubbles , Dakin Fun Farm Frou Frou , Amtoy Hamburger , As for the non character stuffed toys these were sold by the hundreds , they showed up in all the 80's department stores Woolco , K-Mart , Towers which even devoted one entire row to stuffed animals - they all had springy little elastic loops on their heads so that they could dangle from hooks in the pegboard , and the era’s favorite animals were - Pandas , unicorns , Bears , Koalas , racoons , horses , hippos and who knows what else. Some were even gimmicky -Hearts with little feet and googly eyes sold during Valentines Day , and lots of rabbits during Easter. There were even pillow type stuffed toys more for decorating your bed than anything - perhaps started by Don Knotts on Three’s Company check out his big face , Sly Cat head pillow! Window pane friends member those? , big lips , rainbows , shooting stars , a box of crayons , lifesavers , their was even a pattern booklet on how to knit your own pillows that looked like Allsorts Licorice ( you know the kind pink pentagon shaped candies with soft licorice centers) . Along the way their has been more and more bizarre stuffed toys I’ve come across 80's mail-away’s for Cap’tn Crunch , Dig ‘em ( the Frog from Sugar Smacks ) , Toucan Sam , Green Giant dolls ( if you’re drawing a blank reach into your fridge and see if there is a picture of a green giant on your bag of peas - that’s him ) , And get this a cob of Corn - you read right , your eyes haven’t deceived you a cob of corn , plus a pea pod and a giant Peach - Each one called Cobbie , Sweet Pea and Peachy and even more were put out by Del Monte.

I almost get a homesick pang walking down the toy aisle now , longing to see a stuffed toy aisle or even something reminiscent of the 80's. Of course one could argue the 80's weren’t perfect with all their Rambo machine gun kits and dancing flowers , so what , are those ugly Bratz dolls any better? Am I the only one that gets creeped out looking at those things - they look like ten year olds trying to achieve the look of a slutty twenty-eight old. At least Barbie with her phony measurements and purple eyeshadow looked like a moderately , relatable woman , and Maxie dolls and Hot Look dolls were just plain fun. They had the look of a best
I had a quartet of cherised stuffed toys one was a Snoopy ( I cut his ears into three strips , braided them , put blue eyeshadow over his black eyes , and made a strapless dress for him by cutting the end of a sleeve off a velour shirt , stuffing the top of the dress for boobs , he had now become and remained in my mind always as Stephanie.) There were others including my only Barbie doll a Peaches and Cream Barbie - I chopped her hair off shoulder length and called her Barb. And there was one bear I could never get my hands on he was extraordinarily pricey a Gund of course and he was this squat little bear Snuffles ( he was called ) , that sat on his rump with a little round circle patch on his tummy. He was super soft and came in two sizes large about the size of a big Popple and small about the size of a small Popple. There was this store near where I lived , it was one of those artsy 70/80's stores attached to a hotel. It was something to bring in the tourists you know the kind , hard wood floors to give it that General Store charm , home made crafts - member that 80's craft fad of using pantyhose material and making life size old people , or maybe cute potato faces for fridge magnets or pickled bums ( you read right - jars filled with little pantyhose stitched butts ), they had a whole room full of those ( the old people not the pickled bums ), plus quilts , wind chimes , sun catchers , rocking horses , elaborate kites , fancy book marks ,
painted beach stones , glass jars filled with flavored candy canes with every flavor imaginable , I loved root beer and watermelon , and then the stuffed toy nook , all devoted to Gund. I used to go there and ‘visit’ this toy ,I would pick up that toy having named him by now , Pudge , and would play sometimes luring my friends to join me , until the cashier would get annoyed and chase us out. I have since come across several Pudges but never one as soft , or as in good condition. Still looking.

I was very elaborate with my stuffed toy playing in fact I had created a whole other world for them luckily my best friend didn’t think I was insane and we both created some of my best memories just hanging out- no t.v., no texting , just playing. We gave each toy a name and a voice , they would talk to each other and have incredible adventures , I must say we had pretty good imaginations back then , but three t.v. channels and sharing what shows we watched with siblings makes one very creative. We made schoolwork booklets for the toys , they even took school tests and got report cards , when they passed notes we made them a dunce cap , we made elevators ( picnic baskets on a rope ) and sent them out the window , we made them tents and had them sleep outside , even tented outside ourselves never without the toys though , carved up a long box and using magic marker turned it into a school bus after which we pulled it through the orchard behind my house , taking them to the back reservoir and pretended they had gone on a class trip , ( Influnced by night soaps ) we even pretend they had murdered one of the stuffed animals complete with a trial , we took them on picnics , bike rides , slid them down the slides , swung them on the baby swings , they had birthdays , parties , and best yet we would have the stuffed animals call each other on the phone , I would say to my friend Miss Piggy wants to talk to Bear go get him , I didn’t doubt that she ran and got the bear rather than just talked in his voice.

I'm relived to know for sure I wasn’t the only one who created ‘identities’ for their stuffed toys , ever see the Polka Dot door? - I’m not sure if this is strictly a Canadian show or not but I’d watched it and it was one of those children’s shows like Sesame Street or Mr. Dressup ( I think that’s Canadian too ) and Today’s Special ( whoops Canadian again. ) The show featured a big creature-thing , I think it was supposed to be a green and yellow girrafe / kangaroo thing - okay I don’t know what it was but his name was Polkaroo. It also had two grown up hosts and four stuffed toys Humpty & Dumpty one of which looked like it’d gotten 80's funkified - he wasn’t black but grape giving him the appearance of a hip black humpty dumpy , Marigold a cloth doll , and a plain yellow Bear. The grown ups would maneuver the toys slightly and pretend to hear them talk and have them do things like a tea party of make a kite , it was one of the cutest shows because it wasn’t overly cute.
Though I think Barney the purple dinosaur got kinda a bad rap in the 90's , you just have to watch some of the shows prior to understand why , he and the kids just tried so hard!


In The Fabulous Five # 11 Hit and Run - Jana clings to her Valentine bear Gorgeous ( a gift from Randy , her main squeeze ) while in the hospital after a hit and run. Randy himself lies in a coma having taken the brunt of the hit after pushing Jana out of the way. Jana sick with fear , reluctantly, at the pressuring of her folks and nurses , allows the screaming little girl in the bed next to her to cuddle it and cuddle it. The little girl won’t give it up for any substitute and I find it strange that a child separated from her parents after a car crash , wouldn’t have been given a toy from the children’s ward immediately to distract her - but then there wouldn’t be Jana’s wavering noble sacrifice. Would you let a little girl borrow your teddy at the very moment you felt you needed it?


I often wonder what doll Jessica would have cuddled and is now boxed away or hidden under a towering mess in the Hershey bar( nickname for her chocolate covered room - in earlier books) Or what Liz would have cherised for that matter. I see Liz as the Panda bear or the rag doll type perhaps a kindered goody goody? Holly Hobby? Jessica with some wretched furless bear that she’s been drooling on since she was three years old. Lila something bizarre - a pillow that looks like a giant credit card. Winston he’s a definite closet My Buddy lover. Bruce a Cabbage Patch doll named after himself or perhaps a left over from a home-ec class - sow your own Porche with 1BRUCE1 embroidered plates.

Doll cuddlers can be seen in movies old and 80's not just children clutching them but teens - check out the vintage ultra cool Katherine Hepburn flick Stage Door ( I can mention this I first seen on Family Channel in the 80's ) , Ginger Rogers blocks out the annoying neon light flashing into their room with a mask all while clutching a little rag doll in her arms. The title Valley Girl of the 1984 flick cuddles a very spooky looking clown doll to bed. D.J. on Full House has a Window pane pillow to hug , Stephanie has Mr. Bear and Sarah Jessica Parker mournfully clutches a bear while her father cuts off the tree limbs she has been using to escape out her window each night.See if you can spot the Popple in the Fred Savage movie Vice Versa , look fast.

The real Bruce Patman

The real Bruce Patman
For more 'real' Sweet valley comparisons click here it'll take you to Cliquey Pizza 2

The Real Lila

The Real Lila
Same soft , dreamy look!