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Popples is a series of fantasy characters created by Those Characters From Cleveland (TCFC), a subsidiary company of American Greetings. Popples resemble brightly colored teddy bears or marsupials and have long tails with pom-poms on the tip, they have pouches on their backs that they can go into to resemble brightly colored balls.
Susan Trentel, who worked for TCFC and had created the first prototypes on Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears, was the plush designer who invented the method for transforming the Popple. Supposedly, the idea came from rolling up socks. Trentel worked with art director Thomas Schneider on the creation of the first prototypes (Patent # 4614505). Popples were manufactured by Mattel and were in production from 1983-1988.
The Popples plush toys were manufactured by Mattel. Produced in the 1980s, these toys resemble brightly colored teddy bears or rabbits (but with long tails with pom-poms on the tip), and have pouches on their backs that can be inverted, so they go into the pouches and resemble brightly colored balls.
The first introduction included nine original Popples.
- PC (Pretty Cool) Popple is a large male Popple with blue fur, pink hair, and contrasting orange and yellow ears
- Party Popple is a large female Popple, with pink fur, hot pink hair, and contrasting lavender and pink ears
- Pancake is a large female Popple with purple fur, orange hair, and contrasting blue and gray ears
- Puzzle is a medium-sized male Popple with orange fur, green hair, and contrasting blue and red ears
- Prize is a medium-sized female Popple with dark magenta fur, white hair, and contrasting green and pink ears
- Puffball is a medium-sized female Popple with white fur, yellow hair, and contrasting blue and magenta ears.
- Pretty Bit is a small female Popple with lavender fur, hot pink hair, and contrasting pink and blue ears
- Potato Chip is a small female Popple with yellow fur, pink hair, and contrasting lavender and magenta ears
- Putter is a small male Popple with green fur, orange hair, and contrasting red and blue ears.
Rock Star Popples and Baby Popples
The second launch brought the Rock Star Popples: Punkity (girl with microphone and star on her tummy) and Punkster (boy with guitar and lightning on his tummy) as well as the Popples Babies: Bibsy (white with purple and white hat, bib and booties with stars) and Cribsy (pink with blue and white striped hat, bib and bootsies). The babies had rattles in their tails and came with a squeaking baby bottle.
A line extension brought about Pufflings, which looked like little Popple pets (they were basically a ball of fluff with a face and tiny paws and tail coming out, and could flip inside out to look a bit like a sea anemone) and carried riddles and jokes on tags inside them. There were 6 different colors of Pufflings: Red, yellow, sky blue, purple, white and magenta.
The Popples also had Sports Popples who turned into balls: Big Kick (soccer ball), Dunker (basketball), Touchdown (football), PC Pitcher (baseball), Net Set (tennis ball). The Sports Popples included Cuester, who turned into an 8-ball, but no known toy has been made of him. Similarly, no toy was made of the original Pitcher but PC was dressed in a baseball outfit to replace him.
Other Full-Sized Popples
There were numerous variants: Flower Popples (who would turn into flowers when you flipped them inside out), Pillow Popples (wearing pajamas and turned into sleeping bags), Fruit Popples (who turned into different fruits), and Special Editions with limited distribution (including an animal series only released in Europe with Popples that resembled a parrot, dog and rabbit), and Costume Popples who were wearing special outfits and turned into something related (example: a ballerina Popple that turns into a handbag).
Besides the stuffed animals, another successful Popple-themed line of merchandise was Pocket Popples. Based on same characters as the larger Popples they were scaled to fit in a pocket. They had PVC faces, articulated arms and legs, and fabric features of ears, tails and pocket (where they hid).
A revival was attempted by Playmates Toys (who is also the current manufacturer of toys featuring another American Greetings property, Strawberry Shortcake) in 2007. This rendition currently only has four characters, (HappyPopp, PrettyPopp, KissyPopp, and MonsterPopp), marketed under the name 'Popp n Giggles Popples' which contain a sound box that makes a popping sound followed by a giggle when the Popple comes out of its pouch (or when you press down on the shoulders while in its box, or sitting on a hard surface). Also released in 2007 was a version of Popples 'Pufflings' called 'Popp n Mini Message Popples' which could record a 'message'. There are also "Key Chain" and "Cell Phone Charm" mini plush Popples that more closely resemble the Popples of the 1980s available in countries outside the US, such as Japan. (Key Chain Popples that have been spotted include those that resemble Party, Prize, Puffball, Pretty Bit, Potato Chip,and P.C.) Various "Deco Packing Tape", and T-shirts, stationery and school supplies featuring the original Popples exist as well.
From 1986 to 1987, a two-season Popples cartoon series was broadcast in the United States, and there was a four-issue comic book series from Star Comics based on this cartoon (which was intended to be five issues long, but the fifth issue was never published).
- Bailey, Elizabeth (May 1, 1988). "Snorks and popples". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-20.
- "Buyers Have an Early Adventure in Toyland : Industry Show Previews Talking Teddy Bears, Cuddly Dolls, More Rambos - Page 2 - Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. 1986-02-21. Retrieved 2012-10-18.