If you've never heard of "The Weenies," that's because it's the toy and cartoon phenomenon that almost happened, but got cancelled before it fully rolled out.
The concept was developed in 1983 by Mel Birnkrant, Mike Strouth, and Kiscom, and then purchased by Coleco to be the next big thing after Cabbage Patch Kids.
The project got very far along, with an animated TV special scripted and storyboarded, and toy prototypes and packaging all ready to go, but financial problems at Coleco nixed the project.
One of the artists who created the Weenies, Mel Birnkrant, has written a fascinating blow-by-blow account of how he and his colleagues developed the idea in a cascade of creativity, and the ups and downs of what happened along the way.
It's a must-read for anyone involved in developing an animated series or toy concept or anyone interested in the behind-the-scenes workings of popular culture in the 1980s.
Mel Birnkrant is one of the foremost collectors of classic comic character toys. His design for the Weenies characters was inspired by the cartoons of the 1930s.
Birnkrant was a friend of Disney animator Ward Kimball, and Birnkrant himself is a gifted cartoonist who turned down a job offer at the Disney studios when he was starting his career.
In the story of the Weenies, there are many lessons for artists and animators, such as the effect on the character's personality of a bending-forward spine versus a bending-backward spine.
While you're at Birnkrant's site, you can also check out the story of his better-known toy creation, The Outer Space Men.
That site, along with the story of the revival of the figures, is also very deep, chronicling the development of the action figures, with lots of art for new characters. As Birnkrant says, "It's a virtual textbook on how to work with unruly sculptors."
The Story of the Bunville Weenies (online by Mel Birnkrant)
Previously: Video about Toy Collector Mel Birnkrant