The Pound Puppies are another property loping down the comeback trail, in hopes of leveraging the popularity of an original toy that still exists in recent memory and possibly still haunts the clearance bins of some discount toy chains. JAKKS Pacific has recently signed a licensing deal with Pound Puppies to be the master toy licensee and develop a new line of Pound Puppies toys including plush, original adoption certificates and electronics, along with craft and activity sets, puzzles, girls cosmetics and jewelry, back-to-school products, keychains and inflatables.
A Florida-based inventor, Michael Bowling, created the Puppies in 1984 as adoptable pets, manufactured by then-master toy licensee Irwin. The toys went off the market from 1989 until 1996, when Galoob took over and relaunched the Puppies, this time as miniature plush. Galoob’s license lapsed earlier this year.
Bowling says with JAKKS, he wants to bring back the original large-sized plush because parents who were familiar with the toy 16 years ago will recognize it on shelves and buy it for a new generation.
Although it began as a toy, an animated series was also created for the property by Hanna-Barbera that ran over two seasons, from 1986 to 1987, on ABC and in 52 countries worldwide. When Disney bought ABC, the series stopped airing until Hanna-Barbera was bought by Turner, and Cartoon Network began airing the 26 x half-hour series. It still airs periodically today.
Along with the development of a new toy line to create renewed interest in the property, Bowling says he is in talks with L.A.-based Landmark Entertainment and another production company about the creation of a new, animatronic puppet Puppies series.
Once the program is up and running, JAKKS will likely look at signing other licensees for categories such as publishing, says Len Mazzocco, senior VP of product development for the infant, preschool, plush and games divisions.
He agrees the cornerstone of the strategy to revamp the Puppies is the return to the the large-sized 16-inch plush. He says since the puppies ‘have never been officially over,’ they don’t have a has-been status to overcome. He claims that because there was never a ‘bad time’ in which the market was oversaturated or product was overshipped, it won’t be difficult to convince retailers to stock Puppy product because there aren’t any must-have large-sized licensed plush in stores this year. And to appeal to those who may be familiar with the Pound Puppies but may not exactly be breaking down doors to purchase them, another strategy is to modernize the toys with electronics. Also, as there are currently no existing Pound Puppies licensees, a new look has been created to be even sweeter and more vulnerable, to broaden the appeal and include a very young demo of two to three, along with the key demo of girls six to 10. They will also have more distinct personalities and features, enabling consumers to buy the toy most appropriate to them.
Mazzocco is confident that awareness is still high for the property and plans a slow build of merchandise centered on plush and toys for Q4 2000, with additional product rolling out after that. Plush and other toys may be shipping to territories outside North America by 2001.