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Baby Moe, Larry & Curly?! Baby Hulk & Wolverine?! Get ready for the new toon baby boom

Baby Moe, Larry & Curly?! Baby Hulk & Wolverine?! Get ready for the new toon baby boom

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The way I understand it, it's the late Jim Henson that we really should blame for this toon baby thing.

By that I mean: Henson's the guy who basically invented this genre back in 1984, when he introduced the Muppet Babies in "The Muppets Take Manhattan" (FYI: Don't confuse the Muppet Babies [left]  with Sesame Workshop's newest product line, "Sesame Beginnings" [right]).


Photos courtesy of Google Images

And when the "Muppets Babies" proved to be a popular (more importantly, profitable) addition to the Muppet franchise ... Well, the Mouse decided that it wanted in on the fun too. Which is why -- in the late 1980s -- the Walt Disney Company launched its "Disney Babies" product line.


Copyright 1992 The Walt Disney Company

Which should not to be confused with Disney Consumer Products' recent riff on the "Hello, Kitty" line, Disney Cuties.


Copyright 2005 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

And given all of the money that Henson & Disney were making off of their "Muppet Babies" & "Disney Babies" lines, it was only a matter of time before Warner Bros. made a move on this same market. First by launching "Tiny Toons Adventures " (left) in 1990, and then -- in 2002 -- by following that effort up with the "Baby Looney Tunes" line.


Photos courtesy of Google Images

By then, Hanna-Barbera had also begun cashing in on this new toon trend by launching (among other animated TV series) "The Flintstone Kids" and "A Pup Named Scooby Doo" ...


Photos courtesy of Google Images

So -- at this point in the game -- it's pretty clear that there's some serious money to be made off of juvenilizing a set of classic cartoon characters. Which is perhaps why Larry Harmon Pictures Corp. is now trying to relaunch its once popular Bozo the Clown franchise by introducing Bozo's Clown Babies and Bozoo Animals.


Photo by Jeff Lange

Mind you, Bozo's not the only slapstick superstar who's looking to make a comeback by getting kiddie-fied. Check out the latest incarnation of Moe, Larry & Curly below. That's right. The Baby Stooges. Reportedly coming to a crib near you in 2008.


Photo by Jeff Lange

And speaking of cribs ... Remember how the "Bratz" product line began seriously cutting in on "Barbie" 's retail turf a few years back by bringing a streetwise sensibility to the doll aisle? Well, MGA Entertainment Inc. is no longer content with owning the 8-year-old girl market. They're now looking to lay claim to the 3-year-olds too by launching a "Bratz Babyz" product line. Which officially debuts next month with the release of that Fox Home Entertainment premiere, "Bratz Babyz: The Movie."


Photo by Jeff Lange

And MGA isn't the only production company that hopes that a young, urban, hip feel will help lure viewers to their new animated project. Check out what Wayan Bros. Entertainment just produced: "Thugaboo." Reportedly based on adventures that Shawn, Marlon & Keenan Ivory Wayans had while growing up in the inner city, the first installment of this series -- "Sneaker Madness" -- premiered on the Nicktoons Network earlier this month. While a DVD version of "Thugaboo" 's debut just went on sale yesterday. 


Photo by Jeff Lange

I'm not sure if the world is actually ready for a show that reportedly plays like a combination of Fat Albert, Charlie Brown and "Family Guy." But -- like it or not -- "Thugaboo" is here. With a soundtrack CD already up for sale over on the official "Thugaboo" website as well as a new Christmas-themed episode due to hit the Nicktoons Network sometime after Thanksgiving.

And speaking of things that the world is probably not ready for ... I give you the Marvel Babies!


Photo by Jeff Lange

Before you ask: No, this is not fan art or some "Saturday Night Live" spoof. This kiddie-fied set of classic comic book characters is actually Marvel's latest attempt to expand its audience. Evidently, the battle plan here is (literally) to "get 'em while they're young." Have future comic book buyers bond with these characters when they're just infants. With the hope that these kids will still be fans once they're actually old enough to read (More importantly, buy) comic books.

Well, I don't know about you folks. But there isn't enough money in the world to ever get me to change the Baby Hulk's diaper.

And speaking of things that involve money ...

In addition to being JHM's official photographer & archvist, Jeff Lange also produces a best-selling series of Disney theme park DVDs. His most recent title is a disc that commemorates Walt Disney World's 20th anniversary celebration. For further information on this DVD as well as all of the other titles in Jeff's catalog, please follow this link.

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  • When it comes to this ill-conceived baby trend, I'm all in favour of abortion!

    Actually, the "Baby Stooges" look not so much like babies, but rather more like the middle-aged Jewish guys they were, only with an unnerving infantilism fetish. Nyuk nyuk nyuk...
  • Good grief. What next - are marketers going to transmit commercials and introduce prduct lines in utero?  After all, why wait for kids be old enough to speak and walk before we start with bombarding them with endless commercials and marketing gimmicks?

    And the advertising industry wonders why advertising doesn't have the impact it used to. If you get bombared by incessantly at an earlier and earlier age, you just learn to tune it out that much sooner...

  • Keep in mind, that although concepts are -shown- at a Licensing Expo, not everything gets BOUGHT...
    What we're seeing is a sort of bad American Idol of marketing concepts--thought up by occasionally desperate rights-owners trying to give characters one more plug because Jim Henson made it look easy (c'mon, folks, say you remember Bozo, it'll make Harmon feel better!)--and few will exit the arena alive, unscratched, and to make it to the second round with actually marketed products.

    As noted, Baby Bratz and Thugaboos already went out and pursued their own direct-video marketing, because they had the money and there was no one in the office to tell them no, but things might not fare as well for Lil' Spidey and Baby Ock.
  • "When it comes to this ill-conceived baby trend, I'm all in favour of abortion!"

    Ponsonby Britt may have the funniest post on this site in months... thanks for the smile!
  • "The way I understand it, it's the late Jim Henson that we really should blame for this toon baby thing.
    By that I mean: Henson's the guy who basically invented this genre back in 1984, when he introduced the Muppet Babies in 'The Muppets Take Manhattan'"
    ----
    A little historical context about how we got the Muppet Babies in the first place might explain why every other company Just Isn't Getting It:
    Henson claimed he had marketed the babies "based on their popularity on the movie"--But the chronology's a bit off, as some products were already being marketed months to a year before the movie, and the Babies don't even seem to make much sense in the movie and appear suspicously like an infomercial cameo...
    Jim had always intended that the Babies would take over all future marketing for the "adult" Muppets, but the reasons why don't look too nice:  At that point in his career, Jim was busy with "Labyrinth", had fallen in love with the studio's big-scale special-effect puppet work since "Dark Crystal", and believed that the Creature Shop would pay all the company's future bills...
    As for his lil' foam pals, you can see him taking a condescending approach to the characters that the other writers and performers weren't, and as for the "new source of marketing", you don't have to be Freud to figure out what "Baby Kermit" was now doing in a playpen and being marketed to preschoolers.
    (And the fact that "Labyrinth" DIDN'T singlehandedly build the company's future is why we still have Kermit around today, Michael Eisner notwithstanding...For the rest of his life, and sounding very much like Walt Disney and "Fantasia", Henson never could understand "why the movie had been such a flop".)

    Of course, as the article says, once Saturday morning saw the ratings, everyone else got the idea, as it was getting harder to flog their franchises for one more concept.  Disney and Sesame Street were naturals, since they knew which side their baby-marketing was buttered with new moms--
    But as for Marvel, the idea of selling their comics to anyone under the age of 12 has literally been a -punchline- at the company since the early 90's:  Never mind Baby Wolverine, if I was to say the words "Power Pack", would any fan know what I was talking about?...  :)
  • Thanks for putting the "Muppet Babies" theme song in my head!  (And, I used to watch "Bozo the Clown" every weekend!)  I had never heard of "Sesame Beginnings" until today, but it looks like the cutest thing I've ever seen!  Baby Muppets, Disney, Looney Tunes, and Sesame Street make sense to me, but Baby Stooges?  I grew up watching "The Three Stooges", too (you name it, I watched it :-p), and this is just disturbing.  Did you see Larry's picture?  That's just scary.  Baby Marvel looks cute...weird, but cute.  I've heard of "Thugaboo" and can't believe that Nickelodeon would air a cartoon with the word "Thug" in it.  I've seen the Bratz Babyz stuff before...I'd rather have Barbie than Bratz any day.
    "Muppet babies, we make our dreams come true..."  I'll be singing it all day...
  • "When it comes to this ill-conceived baby trend, I'm all in favour of abortion!"
    hahaha, absolutely hilarious, Ponsonby Britt!
    Why is there a baby "Spider-girl"? I don't even remember a grown-up version of her... And a baby Doc Ock?! Do we really want our young'ns to identify with supervillains at such an early age?? Haha, and if we really wanna get nit-picky, Marvel technically can't potray baby X-men like Wolverine since their mutant abilities are dormant until adolescence!
  • DerekJ Said:  Never mind Baby Wolverine, if I was to say the words "Power Pack", would any fan know what I was talking about?...  :)
    -------------------

    Shouldn't that be "Proton" and not "Power"?  ;)
  • No, TikiBird, it's actually Power Pack. They were supposed to be the "kiddie version" of the FF. Four kids that had super-powers (not the same ones as the FF) and they'd often team-up with Franklin Richards. Every now and then, Marvel tries to bring them back.

    And La-Resistance, Spider-Girl is the daughter of Peter and Mary Jane from an alternate future. Pretty cool book, if you ask me. They managed to keep all the light-heartedness and fun that used to make the Spidey stories so great back in Stan's days.
  • "Thugaboo" is precisely the reason that I try as hard as possible to keep my kids from watching anything on Nickelodeon...except Nick Jr.  Nickelodeon has just become a stop on the way to Viacom hooking kids on MTV.
  • Baby Marvel has been in the toy aisles for at least a year.  Check the baby/infant aisle and you will see them there.   In fact, Playskool just came out with a Spiderman that plays itsy bitsy spider and does the hand movements.   If also sings the old cartoon theme song (try getting that one out of your head).  I agree with la_resistance, if my daughter wanted to snuggle with Doc Ock it would give me the creeps, but my husband would probably encourage it for that reason.  
  • cbarry said:
    "Thugaboo" is precisely the reason that I try as hard as possible to keep my kids from watching anything on Nickelodeon...except Nick Jr.  Nickelodeon has just become a stop on the way to Viacom hooking kids on MTV.

    Amen to THAT!

    I can't possibly imagine who lets their kids play with those Godawful Bratz dolls (my daughter has as much chance of getting one of those as she does my buying her her first heroin needle).

    Thugaboo??? Please!!! Why isn't someone SCREAMING racism at THAT title????

    Ugh ... I hate our society sometimes ...
  • The X-Babies are nearly 20 years old (as a concept, not as characters).  In the comics, they were created as a marketing ploy by a villain grown mad by/obsessed with television. ...Yeah.

    Why go with Spider-Girl, though?  How about The Invisible Woman, or Storm, or...Jubilee.

    Final comics comment: is that Power Pack/[New] Avengers mini-series done yet?
  • My daughter hasn't and will never touch a Bratz doll if I have anything to say.

    And the Marvel thing just doesn't make sense.  He wasn't the hulk until he was an adult.  Same for spiderman.  It just doesn't work.
  • You know, if someone came to me with the baby stooges job, even if I thought it was the worst idea in the world (which I do) I'd still turn in a better set of concepts than those embarassingly amaturish designs. Someone actually bought this? good lord...
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