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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
The Medievals Tribe:
The Prehistorics Tribe:
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.
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.