The soft-art category is a fascinating one, because it encompasses so much potential. At Toy Fair 2018, there certainly were tons of plush possibilities. And if variety is the spice of life, then this year’s gathering at Javits Center was a zesty and tasty Italian super buffet.
In the world of plush landscapes, Toy Fair truly matters. And, quite honestly, within that rarefied real estate in Manhattan, colors seem to matter a great deal! Inside Javits Center, which is huge, glass-encased, and generally gray, the hues of Toy Fair are bright, brilliant, and bold. If Judy Garland as Dorothy had taken an unintentional detour off the Yellow Brick Road, I think she might have ended up in the Javits plush aisle. (Interesting side note: that actually could have happened! Celebrating its 115th year in 2018, New York’s Toy Fair would have been a youthful 35 years old when “The Wizard of Oz” was being filmed!)
If anyone doubts the power and personality of Grumpy Cat, look no further than ‘New York’ magazine. In the space of a month, the editors put Hillary Clinton, Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and Grumpy Cat on its coveted front cover. Not too shabby for a cat that started out as a stray adopted by Tabatha Bundesen!
Grumpy Cat has a manager — an indefatigable front man named Ben Lashes — a publicist, and a team of legal and financial handlers. The iconic image — a pussycat with a sourpuss expression — became an Internet sensation in September 2012 after Bundesen’s brother, Bryan, posted the soon-to-be famous feline’s face on Reddit.
In less than 36 hours, that photo was viewed more than 1.5 million times. Many people insisted that the picture had been digitally altered. Bryan Bundesen responded by posting more shots. The dwarf Siamese literally became an overnight sensation, known worldwide as Grumpy Cat, rather than her original name, Tardar Sauce (based on her former white-orange fur color).
Since then, Grumpy Cat’s likeness has appeared on T-shirts and Christmas cards, G.C. has been hired as a spokescat for Friskies, and her biography has made the New York Times’ bestseller list.
Next in line for the famous feline is her own brand of coffee — Grumppuccino —slated to hit grocery stores in late 2013 or early 2014. And there are also plush likenesses that capture her slightly judgmental, jaded demeanor from not one but two companies.
GUND President Bruce Raiffe has happily hopped aboard the Grumpy train. “We are very ‘Grumpy’ to be part of this worldwide phenomenon,” he said. “For more than a century, GUND has been manufacturing unique products and plush toys that have been recognized universally for quality and innovation. Grumpy Cat has joined this esteemed legacy!”
Voted the “Most Influential Feline for 2012,” Grumpy Cat also grabbed the attention of Ganz. Howard Ganz, the president of his namesake company, was also proud to claim the Internet cat as one of his newest inspirations. “Our reputation as designers and creators of quality plush reassured her owner that we would capture the essence of this one-of-a-kind cat. Our experience in the gift industry meant we could act quickly and significantly when presented with the opportunity. We couldn’t be ‘Grumpier’!”
Stuffed toys, window clings, key chains, jigsaw puzzles, coffee mugs, and much more are all available with Grumpy Cat’s mug on them. The fabled feline has a brother at home named Pokey; Ganz and sister company TCG have plans to roll out the red carpet for his likeness, as well.