NEW YORK -- Menudo and Michael Jackson, 'The A-Team's' Mr. T, and Judy Garland in her 'Wizard of Oz' costume were among the stars of the 1984 toy fair.
Dolls representing all four were introduced to store buyers at the 81st annual event sponsored by the Toy Manufacturers of America Feb. 13-22.
So were firstgeneration Muppet Babies, who vied for attention with second generation Cabbage Patch Kids.
Products based on characters licensed from TV shows, feature films and real life celebrities represent the most significant influence in recent years on the creation of new playthings, said TMA chairman Arnold Greenberg.
The trend is continuing to grow and to spill over into non-toy categories.
For example, Muppet Babies licensed products alone include clothing, balloons, footwear, baby furniture, paper goods, games and puzzles, wallpaper, switchplates and nightlights, stamps, posters and sewing patterns.
'Mr. T,' one of 1983's leading action figure toys, is heavily represented in 1984 toy offerings.
Spinoffs from 'The A-Team' TV show -- No. 1 in the Nielsen ratings on opening day of the fair -- include athletic equipment, a bull horn, helmets, a remote-controlled mini-van and a 'Mr. T' water toy.
'The trend is so strong some manufacturers are starting to create their own licenses and are spinning off accessories from the characters,' Greenberg said.
Among them are International Licensing Management of New York, and Hallmark, the nation's largest greeting card publisher.
Hallmark's two character dolls for the juvenile market -- Rainbow Brite, made by Mattel Toys, and Rose-Petal Place, by Kenner Products - are a joint venture with the General Mills Toy Group. They are expected to be in stores by mid-April.
Later this year there will be spin-off accessories such as clothing, housewares and school supplies.
ILM was at the fair looking for licensees for its new cartoon character, Gripe, whose hair bristles and whose eyes rotate and who complains about everything from lack of respect to crowds and people who are chronically late.
Coleco's new Cabbage Patch Kids include Preemies, representing newborns to 6-month-olds, animal-like Koosas with facial characteristics resembling the Kids, 5-inch-tall miniature dolls called Pin-Ups, plus clothing and accessories, including a walk-in playhouse and a ride-on train.
The Muppet Babies are infant-sized versions of Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo and other members of the famous puppet family. They'll make their movie debut in July -- on Friday the 13th -- in a picture called 'The Muppets Take Manhattan.'
'We carefully picked this date,' said Muppet creator Jim Henson at a news conference in conjunction with the toy fair.
Published reports that the Menudo singing group from Puerto Rico would appear at a cocktail party to promote their 8-inch-tall lookalikes touched off a near-riot in front of the Toy Center. The five young rock singers had to sneak in through the kitchen of the 200 Club while police lines at the Fifth Avenue entrance kept screaming young girls from gate-crashing the party.
Each Menudo doll comes with an autographed color photo and a bi-lingual Spanish and English record in which the singer talks about himself.
Management allows no boy to remain in the group past age 16, so the doll manufacturer plans to replace the dolls' heads to reflect the changes.
The Michael Jackson doll is standard industry size, 11 inches tall, 'the same height as Barbie,' said Harry Moorhouse, marketing vice president for LJN Toys. Moorhouse said it is intended as a children's toy, a fully posable doll with movable legs and arms. It is expected to sell for $12-$13.
It comes with one costume, including the recording star's trademark glove on one hand, and a non-working microphone.
Six other costumes, about $5 each, are expected to be in stores by late May or early June.
'We're going to attempt to replicate the costumes Michael wears (when he's performing),' Moorhouse said.
Both LJN and Multi-Toys Corp., makers of the Menudo dolls, introduced cordless microphones that really work -- the Jackson mike with any AM radio, and the Menudo with FM sets.
Judy Garland as Dorothy is the sixth in Effanbee's limited edition Legend Series, a 14 -inch-tall collectible in blue and white gingham pinafore and red slippers. Other limited edition dolls new from Effanbee include Louis 'Satchmo' Armstrong, with jazz trumpet in hand, and Winston Churchill in his later years.
Last Friday Twentieth Century-Fox held a sneak preview party for buyers to show off their latest 'M-A-S-H' spinoff, Radar's Teddy. The plush teddy bear in a khaki-colored athletic shirt was scheduled for formal introduction to the press at a news conference Tueday.
More than half the profits from its sale will be given to the Paralyzed Veterans of America, a pet charity of actor Gary Burgoff who played Radar O'Reilly in the popular TV series.
The bear is among more than 400 licensed products based on the TV series. The manufacturer is Allando Assoc. of Los Angeles, under license from Fox.
'We've taken so much money in from 'M-A-S-H' items, this is a very worthwhile way to put some of it back where it's really needed,' said Chuck Ashman, president of Fox's licensing division, in a telephone interview.
There were plenty of other new playthings besides celebrity dolls among the 3,000 to 4,000 new products on display for about 12,000 buyers from around the world.
The Milton Bradley Co. introduced a futuristic, motorized building set with remote controls for 7- to 14-year-olds, plus more than two dozen games for all ages, and 14 puzzles.
Selchow & Righter spun off a Scrabble People construction set from its world-famous word game and introduced a new edition of its runaway success Trivial Pursuit board game. The new one covers the years from 1946 to Watergate.
A Parker Brothers entry in the trivia board game category is People Weekly, based on the famous and near-famous featured in People magazine.
Little boys have not been forgotten.
Multi-toys' Bernstein called his company's Stinkies characters 'the most disgusting items in the toy industry' -- and mothers and little sisters are apt to agree.
When the little rubber toys are squeezed, they smell like their names: Dead Fish, Sewer, Rotten Eggs, Bad Breath, Barnyard and Outhouse.
'Little boys love this kind of thing,' Bernstein said, adding that his dentist's son is his tester.
The $1.25 toys come in blister packs shaped like garbage cans.