This article was
printed in the August, 1991 issue of Collectors' Showcase
magazine. The Collectors' Showcase magazine is no longer
in print I've been told.
A Darling New Face in the
by Bernard C. Shine
My baby-faced buddy, renowned comic toy
collector Mel Birnkrant, has created a line of dolls for
Galoob Toy Company called "Baby Face." Mel is
one of the pioneer collectors of comic character toys. He
and his wife, Eunice, have converted a three-story
schoolhouse in upstate New York into a home for
themselves and their unusual and unparalleled collection
of rare comic character toys. Mel's 25 year passion for
what he calls "inanimate objects that embody
life" (that's comic toys to the rest of us) has
resulted in a lifestyle that is the envy of the chosen
few who have seen this unbelievable collection and
In addition to being a great collector,
Mel is famous in the toy industry as a leading designer.
He was Creative Director for Colorforms Toys for over 20
years where he conceived, developed and created a
cornucopia of products, including the fabulous Mickey
Mouse and Disney Colorforms toys.
In 1985, Mel entertained a partnership with Elam, Andy
and Noah Kislevitz (otherwise known as Kiscom, Inc.) Mel
invented toys and Kiscom sold them to various
manufacturers. Last year Mel created what I believe is
destined to become his greatest product success, the Baby
Face doll line. Inspired by his admiration for dolls of
yesteryear, including Betty Boop and Kewpie Dolls, Mel
has brought his passion for the past into the future with
these Baby Face dolls.
Mel originally sculpted three Baby Face
dolls and produced a music video showing the dolls in a
variety of outfits and poses. Kiscom chose the Galoob Toy
Company as the first prospective manufacturer to see the
presentation at the 1990 New York Toy Fair. Halfway
through the two-and-a-half minute tape, David Galoob,
president of the toy company, said "Turn off the
tape!! I'll take them!" A deal was made on the spot
and as the saying goes, "The rest is history."
A few days later, Kiscom went to San
Francisco for the first product planning meeting, where
they were amazed to find the toy industry's most
illustrious doll makers: Judy Arthur and Ross Albert. It
was the Alberts who are credited with turning Xaviar
Roberts' soft sculpture creations into the fabulously
successful dolls the world has come to know as the
Cabbage Patch Kids. The Alberts liked what they saw and
agreed to join the fast-forming Baby Face team.
Meanwhile, Mel played the role of Geppeto and continued
sculpting a full line of Baby Face heads. Judy Albert
created remarkable outfits for these new kids on the toys
shelves. The response has been truly magical. Baby Face
dolls have been top sellers among many retailers here and
abroad. They have even been the number one selling doll
as far away as Australia and Brazil and shipments are
just now arriving in Europe. There are currently 10
different Baby Face dolls, each with its own unique look
and expression. Not unlike Disney's Seven Dwarfs, each
Baby Face has a name reflective of the character's
expression and personality.
The dolls' names are "So Surprised
Suzie," "So Happy Heidi," "So Sorry
Sarah," "So Shy Sherry," "So
Delightful DeeDee," "So Playful Penny,"
"So Innocent Cynthia," "So Loving
Laura," "So Sweet Sandi" and "So
All the dolls have acrylic glass eyes and
"real" eyelashes and are fully jointed and
completely poseable, features formerly found only in
expensive collector dolls. Each is so unique that
choosing ones' favorite can be a difficult, if not
impossible task. Many collectors will want them all and,
at about $20 each, they can have them all for less than
the price of one doll artist collector doll. Furthermore,
six of the 10 have also been produced in black versions.
An Asian and an Hispanic doll will soon be added to the
But anyone who wants all of the original Baby Face dolls
had better hurry. Mel has been sculpting up a storm and
new dolls with new expressions will be appearing soon and
as each new face appears, a familiar face will disappear.
Each new doll added to the line will replace one of the
original ones. Thus, even though the basic Baby Face line
will remain at a total of 10 or 12 different dolls at any
given time, it will also be in a constant state of change
As the line evolves, the slowest
sellers will be the first to become extinct. Therefore,
in terms of collectability, they are destined to become
the rarest. Even now, the assortments are weighted to
offer more of the dolls that proved most popular in
testing and some of the original group are already
exceedingly hard to find.
Collectors often ask me what they can buy that will be a
collectible in the future. I believe these Baby Face
dolls would be good bets. They are well designed by a
collector with a fine grasp of what gives a toy lasting
appeal. Not so terribly long ago, doll collectors could
have purchased the first Barbie dolls and Cabbage Patch
dolls. The Baby Face dolls may offer doll collectors a
second chance to be the first in line for what I believe
is destined to become THE collector's dolls of tomorrow.
BABY FACE UPDATE,
follow-up in the September 1991 issue...
In our August issue, Bernard C. Shine of Shine Gallery
and a collectable consultant, predicted that Galoob's
Baby Face dolls designed by toy collector Mel Birnkrant
could well become the next "Cabbage Patch" or
"Barbie" in terms of collectability. It now
looks like Bernie's prediction is already coming true!!
Last month, Baby Face made a spectacular appearance in
the prestigious "Toy and Hobby World Toy Hit
Parade," the toy industry's monthly list of the top
20 best selling toys. Baby Face was No. 11, well ahead of
Cabbage Patch, No. 16. Mattel's popular Magic Nursery was
No. 13. Among the 10 products ahead of Baby Face on the
list, only two (Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles, No. 3 and
Barbie, No. 4) were "traditional" toys. The
rest were either nintendo video games or video game
Anyone wishing to follow Bernie's advice and acquire one
or all of the original edition of Baby Face dolls should
not waste any time in doing so. Mel Birnkrant has
informed us that in spite of the fact that the factories
are on a full 24-hour production schedule, the dolls will
be in short supply by Christmas.
Impressed by Bernie's visionary powers, Collectors'
Showcase asked if he would offer any more predictions.
"Yes," Bernie replied, "I predict that the
Sine Gallery's October 19th video catalogue mail and
telephone comic toy auction will be a history making