Invented by the famed Pound Puppies creator, Mike Bowling, the Splashlings are a beautiful line of collectible mermaid-themed characters and their friends, with amazing personalities and phenomenal imaginative play for girls five and up. The toy line features An Ocean Full of Friends, including a special group of mermaids and shells, as well as more than 130 pets, underwater gems, and treasures for kids to play with and collect.
In May 1984, Mike Bowling went from working in a Ford factory to world renowned toy inventor, when the world was introduced to Pound Puppies. The brand – one of the Toy Industry Association’s top 100 toy lines of the last 100 years and recognized by Time Magazine in 2011 as one of the 100 best toys since 1923 – went on to sell over a billion dollars at retail in 52 countries around the world, star in their own Hanna-Barbera cartoon show, and in a full length animated movie. Now, he is hoping to repeat that success with Splashlings. A digital series from Shaftesbury, the creator and producer of hit kids’ series including “Life with Derek”, launches on the Splashings YouTube channel on Saturday, February 13, too.
Recently, Mike Bowling spoke to the Examiner about his experiences working in the toy industry and his hopes for the future:
Meagan Meehan (M.M.): How did you get interested in working with toys?
Mike Bowling (M.B.): I guess you can say I’m a big kid at heart…really! Pound Puppies was my first idea for a toy. But I believed so strongly in the concept that I pursued it through many turn downs and countless obstacles until I found a “Home For the Pound Puppies!”
M.M.: How was Pound Puppies born?
M.B.: I love this story! My inspiration for Pound Puppies was seeing my young daughter’s love for her new baby doll. As she played, I started thinking: “What do people love most passionately?” The answer was their kids and their pets, and that some people loved their pets as if they were their kids. When I grew up, you went to the Pound to adopt a pet. So, I thought: “Why not give children the opportunity to experience the thrill of adopting their own puppy to love?” That was the moment Pound Puppies were born.
M.M.: Now you have a new line coming out called the “Splashlings.” How did you get the idea for this line?
M.B.: During a walk on the beach, I shared the sound of the waves inside seashells with my granddaughter, who asked, ‘Poppy, what lives inside the shells?’ Right then and there, I told her that true mermaids, who are actually very tiny, live and play inside those shells. That gave birth to the world of Splashlings…a beautiful mermaid world with An Ocean Full Of Friends.
M.M.: How cool is it that the Splashings toy line is launching with a digital series? Tell us about it!
M.B.: It’s terrific! There is a top notch team behind the series. Shaftesbury, the creator and producer of “Life with Derek” and writer Nicole Demerse whose credits include “I Spy” and “DeGrassi: The Next Generation”, among many others, have really brought to life Splashings. Six short episodes premiere this weekend – we think it’s going to create a huge “wave” of excitement!
M.M.: To date, what has been the most rewarding part of working in the toy industry?
M.B.: I don’t know if I would consider myself a true toy insider, although I am honored and humbled by the success of Pound Puppies. For me, the true joy comes from the toy’s creation process and in seeing the results. I remember the first Pound Puppy I saw with a child. I was at the Toronto airport soon after the toy’s introduction, and I saw a little girl hugging a Pound Puppy tightly in her arms and talking to her new pet. I just stood there and watched her hold it. It was a great feeling.
M.M.: Career wise, where do you hope to be in ten years?
M.B.: Ha! Well, I am just thrilled to be where I am now – granddad, semi-retired, part-time pirate, enjoying life on the coast of Florida. I must say though with TPF Toys plans to sponsor educational programs in schools using Splashlings to illustrate the importance of protecting our oceans, I hope in ten years Splashlings does for our oceans what Pound Puppies did for homeless pets.
M.M.: After “Splashings” debuts, do you have any other toy ideas in the works?
M.B.: You’ll have to wait and see!
M.M.: What advice would you give to someone who is striving to enter the toy industry?
M.B.: I firmly believe that wonderful toys are not just manufactured. True toys, the ones that last and capture our hearts and imaginations, come from a place of joy and a love for all children. These toys have a story to tell, a world they live in. Before I invent a toy, before the first stitch is sewn, or drawing is made, I know their story.
M.M.: Are there any upcoming events that you would like to mention?
M.B.: We’re getting through Toy Fair this week and Splashings will be present during Play Fair, the new consumer event taking place this weekend too!
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Be sure to follow Splashlings on Facebook and Twitter. Also keep an eye out for the adorable “Splashlings” animated series that is being released this Saturday! This colorful and cute series will surely capture the imaginations of thousands of little girls. To get a sneak peak of three out of the six episodes set to air on February 13, 2016, see their YouTube channel.