Thursday, November 29, 2007

One of my life's biggest lessons..

You know how you always think your parents are crackpots? Well I did too of course, even from a fairly early age I remember always thinking my father's far out ideas, constant idea designs and crazy concepts were sometimes primarily pipe dreams. Ok, well in truth a lot of them turned out to be just that.

Anyhow, I just heard an ad for a product on the news today that reminded me of this HUGE underestimation I had of one project my dad was working on when I was little.

Huge. As in the success of this product is taught in both marketing and design schools - it's that historic.

I was 9 I believe. I used to hang out with him in his shop at Coleco. He was part of a design team that took the new licensing (of Smurfs or Dr. Seuss characters for example) to the blueprint table and made 3 dimensional sculptures & prototypes that eventually were made into everything the company put out: from figurines to big wheels and kiddie pools. There really were Smurf and Cat-in-the-Hat big wheels. I was a little too old for those at age 9 mind you. ;)

Anyhow, so one day I go into his shop and his desk is covered with this hideous and somewhat scary little 2" round faces of munchkin/troll looking people. I'm really fascinated but even at 9 they kinda creeped me out. So I ask what they are. He tells me they are going to be the biggest new craze ever.

9 year old brat: "Oh ya right dad!"

A year later I had to wait in line with the rest of the Coleco kids to get one.

Why? Because Coleco literally couldn't make enough to meet the demand that first year. News reports everywhere of parents actually fighting in stores to get the last ones. 20 years later and they are still being licensed out (by other toy companies), and the lesson of their appeal is being taught to adults in college and studied by people who try to understand what moves people. lol!

It was always something I remembered when I looked at my little Cabbage Patch doll. My dad couldn't remember the name they were going to be (he thought it was "Radish Patch"). The man who helped him maintain the strict adherence to his original cloth doll design, Xaiver Roberts, had called them something else at first too. As a kid I couldn't exactly pinpoint what my dad had done with those early prototypes to make them go from creepy to cute, but I remember the progression. And sure now, I look at them and I think, eh - they're still a little weird to me! lol! He certainly didn't work alone on that project: please do NOT misunderstand me. These companies have a lot of people take something from that rough resemblance to final product. In fact I might credit the majority of the cutest add-ins to the final folks on the project. What I saw leave his desk was a darn sight better than what he was handed to work with. But it was hardly as "WOW" as what I saw rolling off the shelves when I finally started begging for one. ;)

Anyhow, so the bottom line is I think fondly of dear old crackpot dad as having always had a LOT more insight into potential than I do. (go hug your crazy old parents for me, will ya?).

I wasn't a kid with a lot of toys btw as a total side note. My parents really believed in the principals of fostering creativity through.. oh hell, I don't know - not giving your kids much to play with. -snorts- But I did get one (after all the other kids at school got one mind you). I didn't talk much about what dad did at work either because I remember kids teasing me about never having actual toys to show for it. hehehe. Cabbage patch kids have always stayed in my mind though as "Radish Patch Kids" and how this dreadful little monstrosities somehow became cute with just a few modifications. All the toy withholding in the world can't replace that enormous lesson in having faith in your dear old dad and the ability of creative insight to bring out the likable aspects of things.

When people tell me they can't see the diamond in the rough in a work in progress - be it graphic design layouts and some client/executive not "seeing it" or someone trying to give a critique on a sculpture. ... I completely understand. I have been there.

So for what it's worth -> I just want to thank those who can, and try to offer input. It really DOES take a team of eyes sometimes. :) That commercial for Cabbage Patch Kid stuff just reminded me of that important revelation in my life.

And on a less monumental note, here's a quickie snapshot of Hazel today from a different angle (I'm holding her and took it with a flash & then darkened it).

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