Mini Boglins

The Faking of the Making of. I pretended to sculpt this Mini-Boglin long after the products were manufactured.
The photo was for a magazine article about Seven Towns.

I moved to England from Brooklyn, NY in the late summer of 1992. My then-fiancée Melanie was offered a job in London and I always wanted to visit the UK so we decided that she should take the job. She was born there so could work without issue. I would have to apply for a work permit once we were married, our wedding was set for that fall anyway.

I was working freelance in New York before we moved and I figured I could do the same in England. I had met Tim Clarke when I was working at The Muppets and he gave me a couple of leads for work. One of them was a company called Seven Towns, a toy inventing company that also represented independent inventors. They had helped Tim get Sectaurs and Boglins to market, both of which had successful runs. Their biggest toy they helped market was the Rubik’s Cube and they worked with Erno Rubik to develop all of his subsequent amazing puzzle toys.

Once I could work I introduced myself to them and got an interview with David Kremer. He offered me freelance work in their workshop in Knotting Hill. I ended up working off and on, mostly on, throughout my 4+ years living overseas. I worked on dozens of great projects and I learned much, much more than I ever knew before about the toy industry. One of the first projects I was assigned was to create some new Mini Boglins.

Mini-Boglins design drawings by Timothy Young
Some of the design drawings I did while creating the new characters.most of these translated, the only one that needed adjusting; the toilet lid had to go.

I won’t go into the full history of either Boglins or Mini Boglins here. You can find a lot of info with a simple Google search. Ideal Toys (UK and France) were producing them under license from Seven Towns and they wanted to extend the product line. They needed additions to existing “Tribes” like the Greedies, the Clumsies and the Rude Dudes. They also wanted 2 new tribes, the Medievals and the Prehistorics. I began by drawing a bunch of concepts. I had a lot of fun figuring out how to make some really cool poses within the limitations of these being produced in 2-part injection molds. I knew that the PVC they were made from would allow a lot of detail but I also knew you had to be careful of undercuts that would not allow the piece to easily come out of the mold.

Here is an example of a fun but challenging design. The bottle, the fingers and all the face detail had to line up so they would easily be pulled from the steel mold.

Once the drawings were approved I began sculpting the characters in polymer clay (Super Sculpy). When those were approved I made silicone molds and poured resin castings. In many cases when doing toy prototypes we would then make waxes from those molds but for these the resins were to be the finals.

Mini-Boglins original polymer clay sculptures by Timothy Young
Mini-Boglins original polymer clay sculptures by Timothy Young
Mini-Boglins original polymer clay sculptures by Timothy Young
I photographed many of the Super Sculpy originals before they went into the molds.
Sadly, I don’t have photos of every project I’ve ever worked on but I did get these.

When you are sculpting for toys you have to be aware that things materials shrink with each step in the process. In looking at the existing Mini Boglins I had to sculpt the clays about 10% larger than those. The resins I made from the sculpts would shrink about 3% and the final toys would be about 7% smaller than the resins.

You can see the size difference between the resin casting and the final product.
Here are some resin castings that had flaws. When you pour the resin into the silicone molds you sometimes get air bubbles or the mold might be misaligned.

One of the reasons I wanted to write this post about the Mini Boglins is that there seems to be a big surge in interest from adults who remember these from when they kids. The are a lot of posts about them online using #miniboglins on Instagram. Another reason is that of all the toys I’ve worked on this is one I don’t talk about when I do school visits. For one thing, they are too small to show. I can hold up the Simpsons dolls sculpted or the Meanies toys I designed and students in the audience can see them. Secondly, kids in the U. S. have never heard of Mini Boglins. So here is a complete listing and photos of all 34 Mini Boglins I designed and sculpted.

Additions and replacements for various Mini Boglins Tribes:

Army Guys Tribe: Messenger Flare and Jokers Tribe: Prang. Many of the additions were the messengers, you can see the envelope icon that I added to the sculpt. The antenna on the walkie-talkie and the “BANG” flag coming out of the gun are little details I liked to do.
Tough Guys Tribe: Messenger Kik and Clumsies Tribe: Messenger Talk. Talk is one of my favorites. Of course we were still using corded phones in the early ninties. I’m sure we would do an iPhone joke is we were making these now.
Greedies Tribe: Gulp and Clumsies Tribe: Tell. I knew I could give Gulp a deep mouth, it was getting the pizza toppings to work that was critical to making this work. For Tell it was either go with an apple with a worm or an apple core. I choose the later.
Rude Dudes Tribe: Spoilet and Jokers Tribe: Porg. You can’t go wrong with bathroom humor. I was very pleased with how the toilet paper roll worked out. Porg has a very specific Super Soaker. Ideal was the distributor of Super Soakers in Europe so that worked very well. A bit of toy cross-promotion.
Rude Dudes Tribe: Messenger Stick and Tough Guys Tribe: Chief Krusha. Krusha replaced Chief Karf. Mini Boglins chiefs always have 3 horns.
Jokers Tribe: Messenger Pard. A messenger in a bottle, of course. Modeled on English milk bottles.
Jokers Tribe: Pelt and Greedies Tribe: Messenger Gunk. Some of my sculpts were designed to be parted in the mold front to back like Gunk and some were parted side to side like Pelt. You can see the split line along his nose and forehead.
Jokers Tribe: Plig. This is the only Mini Boglin designed to be split top and bottom. In order to get his spider to look good it worked to design him that way so I had to make sure his face was upturned a bit. I gave him a unique tail since I could.

The Medievals Tribe:

Medievals Tribe: Chief Mogg, Mace and Mord. It was so much fun coming up with 2 whole tribes. I got to play with imagery of knights in armor and their various weapons.
Medievals Tribe: Scout Mors, Spy Minx and Messenger Murg. Minx‘s scythe is separate from his executioner’s mask but the weight of it tends to make it rest on his head. I think Murg is the only Boglin with facial hair
Medievals Tribe: Maxe and Madd. I really had to stretch Maxe’s arms to get that pose to work. Luckily Boglins are flexible.
I enjoyed doing the tiny head on Madd‘s puppet friend.

The Prehistorics Tribe:

Prehistorics Tribe: Chief Dred, Dunk and Dino. Once again, so much fun coming up with this tribe. Since they were prehistoric I gave some of them different scales and skin textures. A small detail, Dunk has a Stegosaurus’ scales and tail. Oh, I just discovered a guy who has a Chief Dred tattoo.
Prehistorics Tribe: Spy Dork, Scout Dink and Dent. Yes, I know that pterydactyls did not have bat wings but it’s sitting on a prehistoric Boglin so there goes science out the window anyway. I enjoyed sculpting the squished lizard on Dent‘s club.
Prehistorics Tribe: Messenger Drat and Dimm. To me he was playing Tic, Tac, Toe but in England its called Naughts and Crosses. Dimm was another delicate sculpt to be sure his spear lined up.

The naming of Boglins: Tom Kremer, the founder of Seven Towns, loved naming Boglins. I believe he named every single one and he would sit in meetings saying Parg…Prong…Prid, and so on until he got just the right name.

Mini Boglins in Slime: After creating all of these I got to return to Mini Boglins once more when they decided to market them in a toilet bowl full of slime. I designed 4 new slimy guys and sculpted them. They proved to be so popular they even ended up with a Mini Boglins in Slime board game.

Mini Boglins in Slime: Splodge, Splutter, and Splash
Mini Boglins in Slime: Splurge. I wanted to show both sides of his very drippy snot. Enjoy.
While we were working on this I drew a marker sketch of a suggestion for the label on the toilet. When we got samples back I realized they had used that very rough sketch as the final artwork.

If you look closely at the photo at the top of this page you can see the date 7-6-93. I don’t know if I wrote that UK style as the 7th of July or US style June 6th. Either way I was working on this job in the summer of 1993. For those of you who are reading this and wishing you still had a Boglin you should know that Tim Clarke has brought them back as hand-made customs. I believe he is also working on new Mini Boglins. Check out his website, ToTims.com for details.

3 comments

  1. Hi thank you so much for this Blog.

    Had Mini Boglins since I was 10, amazed at the nostaliga for them now.

    I actually bought a Scout Mors Resin Cast off ebay and its so cool to actually know what it was used for.

    Thanks Adrian

    P. S Awesome Sculpts

    Like

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