The Douglas booth at Toy Fair 2018 was certainly a dazzling and dizzying array of colors, fabrics, characters, and feelings. It was impossible to saunter through the exhibition space without being overwhelmed by the variety and the creativity!
What was so fun about taking a whirl around the Douglas booth was that it was alive with good humor and good quality. The plush offerings ran the gamut from fantastical, mythical beasts to actual real-life pooches. It was a chance to see every kind of soft critter that a collector could desire, plus designs that are suitable for every age and every gender. Yep, Douglas was truly a hopping place to be!
I was lucky that I got a grand tour via booth representative Hannah Blood, who is in charge of Douglas’s social media and market research. Ms. Blood is really into her company’s lineup and was willing to play Vanna White whenever the need arose. She graciously volunteered to hold various critters aloft so I could get a better shot of them.
The 2018 offerings from Douglas were meant to be inclusive, and they certainly were. Young tots who respond to tactile sensations and react to bright colors had an enormous array to choose from. The Douglas design team knows that it is important to cultivate a lifelong love for plush merchandise. They go out of their way to dream up and then create items that will accompany babies to toddlers to tweens as they settle down for naps, slumber, and trips to dreamland.
I have to admit that I really liked the hybrids that Douglas conjured up, meshing typical, traditional animals with the imaginary critters of folklore and fables. The Catticorn was a special favorite of mine — available in all manner of merchandise (stuffed animals, pocketbooks, backpack danglers, etc.) — and I also really loved the Catmaid or Mercat, a deviation on the half-human sirens that used to lure sailors to their tragic demise.
The Douglas feline mermaids were much more merry and joyful than lethal and menacing. I liked this combo of a cat that is as pretty as a princess and as agile as a halibut! It’s like Hello Kitty was transformed into one-half Esther Williams and the other half Charlie the Tuna. Bravo, Douglas!
Another thing I liked about the Douglas offerings was that they all had a sense of humor, a sense of playfulness, and a sense of rightness. For instance, their multicolored narwhal was a very funny tribute to that “believe or not” sea creature. I have to admit that I did not know such a mighty beast even existed until I saw the Will Ferrell comedy “Elf.” It looked like that enormous ocean monstrosity was dreamed up by a Hollywood scriptwriter who was using magic mushrooms as his muse. But, no, the narwhal was real.
The Douglas version of it is a psychedelic delight, with a swath of rainbow colors and soft, alluring plush feel. It is a big, enormous handful, and Ms. Blood happily hoisted it into the air so it can be appreciated. However, seeing it in person does it justice.
The narwhal with its unicorn-like horn is a real-life counterpart to the many unicorn and dragon renderings that took over the Douglas Toy Fair booth. As always, dragons were a big draw. The “Game of Thrones” has not waned in popularity, and its charismatic, most popular female character — the Khaleesi, aka Mother of Dragons — continues to inspire folks of all ages to want to learn how to be a dragon rider. The Douglas dragon brigade really did look like it would take flight right there in the middle of Manhattan. The dragons came in many hues, shapes, and sizes. They were extraordinary.
But it wasn’t just the supernatural and the imaginary that received the meticulous Douglas touch. Everyday, ordinary critters, like canine companions, were made with tender, loving care. One of their Rescue Pups line was especially heart-tugging for 2018. Based on a real-live dog that needed saving and rescuing, the new pup is a salute to a dog that was found in need of surgery in the Caribbean. Taken into custody and brought to the United States for the operation, the dog is now facing a long life of healthy and happy possibilities. It fits into the Rescue Pups’ mission to shine light on mixed-breed dogs that need a loving home.
Douglas gives donations to animal rescue organizations, and also gifts cash to different animal charities in the name of top retailers. Taking care of animals that need TLC is an important component of this plush line.
Truly, Douglas had a soft toy that would reach out with a paw, a fin, a horn, or a hoof to touch one’s heart and soul.