With its utter lack of creative restrictions, the web has given birth to some pretty strange digital offerings-perhaps none stranger than Gobler Toys, a 100% ficticious website that showcases bizarre made-up toys like Weiner Works (a do-it-yourself hotdog-making machine) and Señor Sandwich (a sandwich on wheels that sports a top hat and glasses). The brainchild of avid young toy hounds Steven Fink and Steve Casino, the two-year-old Gobler site, which garners around 600,000 pure hits a month, has fooled many a surfer. Fink says they get around a thousand queries about the toys a week-’not enough for us to start our own toy company, but enough to be worthwhile for someone who already has one.’
In fact, Fink says Gobler is in negotiations with two specialty toy manufacturers who are interested in making a line of collectible gift-type products based on the concept. ‘Our ultimate goal is to start a licensing program where these fantasy toys become reality,’ says Fink. ‘The toy industry has horse blinders on in a sense in that they don’t want to take a chance on an item. They think the safe route is to get a Harry Potter or Pokémon license, but then from time to time, a Furby comes around and becomes a brand on its own. Gobler is all about going back to basics when original items drove the industry.’
That’s not to say that the Gobler lads aren’t aiming for wider exposure. They’ve recently signed a deal with Mondo Media to produce a 13-ep animated webisode called The Incredible World of Gobler Toys, which will roll out on the Gobler site as well as on Mondo’s network of affiliate sites (which include Excite.com and Netscape.com) early next month. Each two- to three-minute episode will begin with a fake commercial for a different product, and then the company’s kooky toy mogul founder Ira Gobler-fabricated of course-pops onto the screen and details how the toy was born. For example, Señor Sandwich got his start at a 1960s Toy Fair convention. Taking a lunch break in his showroom, Ira was just about to mow down on a juicy deli sandwich when the buyer from Sears made an early appearance. Ira speedily chucked his lunch onto a remote control car, and then planted his hat down on top to hide it. Unknowingly, Gobler’s demo guy picks up the car’s control to show the product, and the car-sandwich-hat goes winging around the showroom floor. The Sears rep loves it and orders 100,000 units.
In addition to the webisode, Fink and Casino have commissioned a Hollywood screenwriter to pen a feature film script based on the life of Ira Gobler, while the two themselves are hard at work in-house
developing a TV series treatment.