I remember my parents suffering through the toy tie-in phenomenon when I was a child and needed that new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pizza van with the laser gun attachment that was just featured on a commercial break of the aforementioned TV Show. It seems as if, at least since the 80s, when something is popular it is cross-branded to an overwhelming degree. These characters become commercial hits overnight, jumping from a book series to a TV show, and then immediately to a breakfast cereal and a clothing line.
I do the bulk of my shopping online (I worked in a mall for 6 years), so imagine my surprise when the sales clerk led me to whole rack of merchandise where a substantial amount of the toys looked nothing like the Winnie I knew and loved. Most of the items for 2 years and under feature infantilized versions of the Winnie the Pooh characters. I found this particularly odd given that the series created by A. A. Milne was already intended for children. Someone at Disney clearly decided that the gang from the Hundred Acre Woods was not charming enough already (see above).
Increasing the cuteness quota of popular children’s media/book characters is a bit odd, if not entirely new. I loved the “Muppet Babies” show as a kid, but it was also based off a segment of a Muppets’ movie that was then spun off in to its own show. As far as I have been able to ascertain, there is no “Baby Winnie” television programming coming soon to a TV near you, it is all just merchandizing.
After looking at bears in diapers for a bit, I crossed over in to the little girl section (easily recognizable because everything is coated in a thick layer of pink) and stumbled across the new Angelina Ballerina toys. I loved the books by Katharine Holabird as a little girl, but had thus far managed to avoid the new TV show. I thought that the Angelina dolls looked a little odd, but after I got home and found this side by side analysis (above) of the original book illustrations and the new character, and I was shocked how little Angelina resembled herself. The TV show and toy designers have transformed Angelina in to, not just a skinny girl, a skinny Caucasian girl. Sure, she was alwayswhite, but I guess I found it less obvious when she still looked like a mouse.
I found both of these altered toys disturbing. Did an executive openly say that the beloved character of my youth was to fat to be on TV? Did they cut out the segment in the first book where she ate a whole cheese pie?!