Our first foray into the colorful world of Popples was through a live-action pilot, in which puppets played the cuddly critters. Who would have guessed a little marionette action could create such mania? The pilot proved so popular that producers quickly decided to follow up with a Saturday morning cartoon series, which in turn spawned the Mattel toys every kid in America just had to have. Word on the street is that plush designer Susan Trental developed the idea for transforming Popples upon rolling up a pair of socks.
From their pompom-tipped tails to their heart-shaped ears, these hairy rascals were fun, fun, fun. They filled the cartoon with acrobatic antics (these high-flying furballs could give Gabby Douglas and the other Team USA girls a run for their money) and copious amounts of mischief. Whenever their pouches came into play, you knew to expect their namesake sound — pop! Particularly when pulling illogically oversized objects out, as if those vestigal flaps of skin were endowed with the magic of clown cars or the undetectable extension charm of Hermione Granger's beaded handbag.
In the first season, the Popples totaled nine in number and lived with human beings — brother and sister Billy and Bonnie Wagner. The first season's alliterative group consisted of Party, PC (Pretty Cool), Pancake, Prize, Puffball, Puzzle, Pretty Bit, Putter and Potato Chip. The Popples spent their days wreaking humorous havoc in the kids' lives, and little Billy and Bonnie spent all of their time surreptitiously controlling the chaos and harboring the furry fellas. Poor Bonnie tries to serve as the voice of reason by keeping the troublemakers in check, but she is woefully outnumbered by the carefree creatures and her just-there-for-amusement little brother.
In the second (and final) season of the cartoon series, another set of human siblings — Mike and Penny — moved next door to the Wagners, bringing their own distinctive Popple pals along. The new neighboring Popples included the punk-rock duo of Punkster and Punkity, baby Popples Bibsy and Cribsy and the guinea-like Pufflings. Also making an appearance before the series popped off the scene were six sports-themed Popples. And while they never made it on air, several variants sprung up in the toy line: Flower Popples, Pillow Popples (is this who we have to thank for Pillow Pets?!) and Costume Popples (because being a mystery hybrid of fairytale proportions wasn't confusing enough).
If you're one of the many who has pinned, repinned or just pined over a Popple on Pinterest recently, take heart...the roly-poly characters may no longer be relegated to mere nostalgic remembrance. Saban Brands has officially announced plans for a new Popples empire, tentatively debuting next fall. Whether you were a part of the franchise's original '80s fan club or a later convert, you'll be able to be-bop (or be-pop, rather) around in style courtesy of a fresh line of apparel, accessories and toys.
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