Monday, September 27, 2010


In 1984, shortly after my first teddy bear book, THE TEDDY BEAR LOVERS CATALOG, was published, my editor suggested doing a collection of the HUG comic strips. A few of the strips had appeared in the first book and were very popular. So THE WORLD ACCORDING TO HUG was created.

Shortly after its publication, the North American Bear Company, bought the rights to produce a plush version. The first season there was just the large size Hug in his signature red scarf. Then came HUG JR. in his turquoise scarf and later on they introduced BABY HUG with his signature baby bib.

HUG became the national spokesbear for BEAR-AID, a division of SAVE THE CHILDREN. We toured America raising money for the charity and HUG made lots of celebrity friends along the way. He was even hugged by Madonna.

Inspired by the work of SAVE THE CHILDREN my family adopted a young boy in China. Later we brought him to America and adopted him legally. Now he is a student at Princeton.

HUG's bear BUDDY was introduced as a give-away in association with BEAR-AID and TEDDY BEAR REVIEW magazine was one of the primary sponsors.

During those years I was working as a counselor with terminal children and their families. We gave over three hundred HUG bears to the children and many (sadly) went to Heaven with their young companions.

Of all the toys I have designed, none is closer to my heart than HUG. He was a wise and loving bear who brought joy and comfort to many.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


RAPUNZEL illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren

RAPUNZEL is one of my favorite fairy tales and Gustaf Tenggren is one of my favorite illustrators. After Maria arrived I noticed a picture of one of her sisters on Shelly's website and her hair had been taken down. I thought about the line in the fairy tale -- "Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your long hair." and the other expression about "letting your hair down" which usually means to relax and be less formal. Maria seems much more relaxed now that her hair has been let down.


"Hi, I'm Maria. What's your name?"
"I'm called Toots -- like Tootsie. Papa Ted is teaching artists how to make my sisters."
"Well, I have a lot of sisters too my they don't make them anymore."

"Well kid, I think this is the beginning of a wonderful friendship."

Maria has just made friends with TOOTS - the teddy bear that I am teaching bear making students to create at EbearZ University online. If you would like to sign up for the classes you still have five days to register and join in the fun. Meanwhile, Toots and Maria are off on an adventure together. I suspect that Toots will be looking for honey cookies.

Here is the link for EbearZ University

Thursday, September 23, 2010


The other night I gave a presentation to my local doll club about the behind the scenes business of toy design. I worked as a doll and toy designer for about twenty years. Perhaps my biggest success was a pre-school line called THE GOOD EGGS produced in England by PEDIGREE toys in 1978.

The little "life-size" egg characters had interchangeable hats, arms, and legs. Their gripping hands could hold a variety of props. They also had whimsical vehicals like an EGGBULANCE and a FIRE EGGINE. Playsets included fold out backgrounds.

The packaging had a charming light touch with beautiful drawings of the characters and vehicles.

I designed several doll lines for PEDIGREE over the following two years. Perhaps some of our UK collectors might even have one or two in their collections.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Sasha has lots of doll friends that she can borrow fashions from. However, Gregor doesn't have the same good fortune so I have to look for boy styles in lots of different places. Recently I found three boy outfits on eBay and I was lucky enough to win the auction.

Here is the first outfit -- a beautiful sweater with Tartan pants and matching beret. Everything is beautifully made and I especially appreciate the care taken to have the Tartan design match up on the seams.

Gregor is delighted and so am I.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


This is my second Gotz MARIA. She is too blonde to be the Maria from WEST SIDE STORY and too young to be the nun from SOUND OF MUSIC. But the songs about Maria suit her nonetheless.

I always wanted a Maria with very long fringe and when this one showed up on eBay I took a risk that her wild fringe in the photos could be controlled and put back in place. I am delighted with her now and she is strung perfectly and poses easily.

She is a very well-balanced young girl. But she does have a very determined expression and that might eventually be something I will have to deal with.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Well, we have a little trouble in paradise these days. One of my Sasha blondes has decided that she is actually Marie Antoinette. I made the mistake -- actually two mistakes -- of letting her watch the Kirsten Dunst film version of Marie Antoinette's life. The second mistake was buying her a gown from Carpatina that resembled one from the film.

Now my sweet blonde is walking around with her nose in the air, swishing her skirts and announcing "Let them eat cake!"

I tried to explain that Marie Antoinette never actually said that but it doesn't matter. Even telling her that Marie lost her head over it hasn't deterred her one bit.

Well, I give up. This is, after all, her favorite thing.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


One of Baby Sasha's favorite things is to play Tumbling Teddies with her colorful stuffed friends. It is all in good fun and they always end up having milk and honey cookies together afterwards.


In the film, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, Julie Andrews sang about a few of her favorite things. The Sashas and I watched the movie a few nights ago and I thought it might be fun if we told about our favorite things.

This young lady is my favorite blonde Sasha. She is affectionately known around here as "Stubborn Sasha" because for many months she refused to pose except in one position. I considered restringing her but never got around to it. She was featured in a story in SASHA WORLD #10.

She is unusual because her fringe is perfectly straight. I have seen many brunette Sashas with straight fringe but the blondes tend to have a wave or curl to theirs. And, she has this persistent tendril of hair that looks as though it was intended to be part of her fringe but was left uncut. No matter how hard I try to keep it back it persists in falling forward. It has made this little charmer very distinctive.

She is wearing one of the first BEST FRIENDS CLUB borrowed fashions and ever since she put it on her personality changed. Now it is her favorite outfit. And now she poses in more than one position without protest or toppling over. She still has a determined expression but she is as pretty as can be and one of my favorite things.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Sasha is wearing the newest outfit that the third version of the KAITLIN boxed doll comes with. The bright turquoise dress is a bit mature for Sasha but the little faux fur jacket is charming. She comes wearing white leg warmers and faux tan suede boots with a fringe trim. The boots fit Sasha's feet but do not quite close at the top as Sasha has thicker legs. Frankly, I bought the doll because I wanted the fully jointed version of Kaitlin and the outfit was just an extra plus. And, speaking of extras, this doll came with an extra boxed outfit as part of the QVC deal on all BEST FRIENDS CLUB dolls.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


On the morning of 9/11 I was living on the 28th floor of a 30 story building on East 40th Street in New York City. From my living room window I had a clear view of the World Trade Center. In fact, I once watched as a man climbed up the side of one tower years earlier. The phone rang. It was my friend, Tom Cooper, a Wall Street broker who was a fellow reporter for an online GI JOE fan site called Real American Hero. He told me that there had been an explosion in one of the towers. I rushed to the roof of my building and could see the black smoke streaming across the sky like a billowing banner that, over the next few hours, would become a black ribbon stretching all the way to Long Island.
I watched in horror and disbelief as the plane struck the second tower. Watched as one and then the other tower crashed to the ground sending a huge gray cloud through the streets of lower Manhattan.
Tom and I began reporting the events on the RAH website and in the hours, days, weeks, and months that followed we told the story from our personal point of view. Our reports were picked up and repeated by other websites around the world.
At the time I was an on call grief counselor for the Red Cross and in the days that followed I worked with both survivors and those seeking survivors.
My job as a counselor went on for years as I worked with the firefighters and rescue workers who were emotionally devastated by the loss of their comrades and their inability to do more.
I have many sad memories from those days. Perhaps the worst was working with a group of children who had found each other during their search for their parents. They were all children of single parents and now they were orphaned by this horrific event.
Tom was a volunteer at Ground Zero and today has many physical problems caused by working in the toxic rubble. We both still have terrible memories of that day and all that followed in its wake.
And nine years later they are as vivid as the day they took place. The pain of loss and the grieving go on. We honor the dead but the survivors must carry their sorrow for the rest of their lives.

Friday, September 10, 2010





The first time I collected Sasha dolls was in the early 1970s. I never heard of the GOTZ Sasha dolls until a decade ago when I started my second Sasha family. I thought some of the dolls were very beautiful but I was intent on replacing my first (lost) Trendon Sasha family. Then I discovered an ALBERTO that someone was selling on eBay. I thought he was really interesting looking but I didn't bid on him. It would be two years before I found another one for sale and I adopted him.

For reasons I don't recall now, I sold the first ALBERTO and soon adopted the second one who had much better fringe. My daughter kidnapped him about two years ago and now he is the guardian of my Granddaughter. So I just adopted ALBERTO the Third. He is every bit as charming as the first two although his fringe is not as thick or cut as straight as the second version.

And recently a Sasha friend sent me this print of the painting that inspired Sasha to create the original studio version of ALBERTO.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


It must be winter somewhere in the world. Sasha is delighted with this BEST FRIENDS CLUB winter ensemble. It has lots of shimmer and shine. The long sleeve shirt made of lavender shimmer stretch fabric features extra long sleeves in the current style. The silver stretch pants twinkle with reflective highlights. The fur lace-up boots are a delight and have hard soles for easy standing. The fur trimmed hooded parka is stylish but a bit tight on Sasha when it is closed.

The outfit is called "Icy Cute" and it is perfect for a weekend at a ski resort.