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    I was working at Mattel as a toy designer in 1986 when one day I stopped at a garage sale. There, face down in the grass, were a couple of worn out stuffed animals. ‘How sad’, I thought. These toys had ‘brought up’ a kid and now they were being cast aside. I think they cost a dime each. I bought both. On my way back I stopped at other garage sales and by the time I got home I had bought maybe twenty-five ‘well-loved’ animals. I set them up around the house and went about my business. Later, when I just happened to look over in their direction I could swear that they were all smiling.

    I was hooked. Months went by and by the time I finished ‘rescuing’ I had collected over 2000 characters. What I did next got me (and them) a full page picture an the Sunday Los Angeles Times.

    This little MUGS book contains some of their pictures and short stories I wrote about each of them.

    Read the rest of the back-story of how the MUGS project came to exist below.

C  O  N  T  A  C  T

H  O  M  E


A page from MUGS


the MUGS story



I went out every weekend to many garage sales and months later, I had ‘rescued’ over 2,000 characters. I labelled each with a tag and kept records of where I had found them. I took their ‘mug shot’ pictures. My idea was to have disadvantaged kids adopt them so they would be ‘wanted’ again.

    Now it just so happened that I had to leave the place I was renting and I was able to buy a nice little house in Redondo Beach. It was a California Craftsman cottage, built in 1910, up on a small hill with a tiny ocean view. It was beautiful.

    It was also Christmas time and I noticed that my new neighbors had adorned their homes with lights and displays for the holiday season. The first Sunday in my new house I got up at dawn, went to the garage where all my stuffed animals were stored and began to set them up on my steps.

   A couple of minutes later a little boy came up to me. “What are you doing”? he said.  “I’m just setting these stuffed animals on my stairs so each of them has an ocean view”, I answered. He thought about it. “Can I help?”, he said.  Shades of Tom Sawyer, I saw some free labor appear. Soon he was busy planning each animal’s place and position. Not five minutes later a little girl showed up. “What are you doing?” she asked me.



“Ask him”, I said pointing to the little boy, and when she did his answer was...”Settin’ ‘em up - ocean view!”  Before long every kid in the area was doing my work for me and as their parents got up and came by to see what all the excitement was, it turned out to be a great fun way for me to be introduced to my new neighbors.

    And then somebody called the newspaper....

I made my ‘mug shots’ of them into little books and wrote short stories about their past lives.

And I made this poster for some of my friends...

    After the article was published in the Times it seemed that everyone at Mattel knew who I was. I also received letters from people about their stuffed animals.

    To this day, I still have “MONKEY” in my personal collection.

    The stuffed animals remained on my steps for a week or so. Even though a lot of people drove by and took pictures, not one animal was ever taken. I wouldn’t have minded because I was already wondering what I was now going to do with them. Then I received a call from the sister cities program of Redondo Beach. Every year they formed a ‘caravan of cars’ that drove to our sister city, La Paz, Baja, Mexico, to bring toys to children who might otherwise not get anything for Christmas. They wanted to know if I might have something to contribute. I did. I definitely did.

the end