Pound Puppies

Pound Puppies

Synopsis of Toy

“Lovable puppies that need a home!”

There are a variety of things a person can dream about while he or she is putting transmissions together, one after the other, day after day, on a Cincinnati car factory assembly line. If it was the early to mid-1980’s, you might, say, reflect upon the current trend in Cabbage Patch Kids. You might also muse for a bit about the handmade doll you recently bought for your daughter, and how delighted she was with it. And most of all, you’ll probably wrack your brain for ways to make a non-transmission-related buck. At least this is what Mike Bowling was thinking about.

Mike Bowling left the Cincinnati assembly line eventually to invent the Pound Puppies. He’s the face behind the pound, the guru of 80’s canine plush. There are dogcatchers out there, and (in usually very different social circles), there are dollmakers. But Mike is the hybrid of the two—Mike’s the dogmaker.

Proof that wisdom can be gleaned from everywhere, Mike knew from his twenty years on the line that he needed a whole family of animals if he was really going to get his plush pet idea off the ground. He conceived of one body style, three ear styles, six colors, three eye colors, and with these variations, he had a whole dog line. His Pound Puppies were designed in 1984, licensed in ’85, and bought up by Tonka shortly thereafter—but not before rejections from a girth of other toy companies, by the way (which just goes to show you, when they tell you your dog won’t hunt, they might now know what the heck they’re talking about).

A television cartoon special introduced the Puppies, so that when they finally did hit the shelves, they were a quick hit. Pound Pur-r-ries, the kitty version of the Pound Puppies, were issued in 1986, and all the animals were available in a variety of sizes, packaged to look like their heads were sticking out of a cardboard doghouse. It was the owner’s job, then, to adopt and rescue. The ‘save-me’ angle worked like a charm—in 1986, the Pound lovelies were the biggest-selling toy in the world. Now if that’s not making good on your free mental time on the assembly line, we don’t quite know what is.

Expertly riding the consumer wave of collectible plush toys, Pound Puppies weren’t always available in the huge, cavernous toy store chains. They made their homes instead in small gift shops and specialty stores…and this way, played up their own collectibility. But it wasn’t just 1980’s plush collectors that were patrons of the Pound. Kids bought them by the dozen—arranging them on dresser shelves and bedspreads, transporting them in their own special Pound Carry Cases, and letting them nap in their own special doghouses. Pound Ocean creatures (like little octopi and dolphins, for example) and Pound Ponies were born soon. The Puppies even had their own Hanna-Barbera animated Saturday series that ran through 1988 (called The Pound Puppies, simply enough).

The Pound animals were eventually retired (making them all the more desirable for collectors), but were then re-issued in 1996 and sell very well today. That assembly line served inventor Mike very well.

Release History of Toy

1985 - Pound Puppies
1986 - Pound Pur-r-ries

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