I have a confession to make.
I owned one of these when I was very young.
No great revelation, my friends. Plenty of kids owned these!
The Puffalumps were a line of plushies made of parachute and poly-fil stuffing created by Fisher-Price in 1986, and included pets, barnyard animals, babies, kids, jungle juniors, and Care for Me Puffalumps, which I can only imagine involved having to burp and potty train a parachute.
I’ll let that mental image sink in.
Actually…that’s really cute. Like adorable and fun cute (that’s an expression, you know!). I had a bunny that did nothing, and this was a thing?!
And so were these. Can you say Cuteness Overload?
And while I owned a Puffalump, and some of the others were around for a long while, there was one fad-based trendsetter among the pack of parachute creations that clearly stood out, if not for their theme, but for the fact that they were a product of their time.
And they had a one-off cartoon special, unlike those other Puffalumps.
I’m referring to The Wild Puffalumps!
In 1987, a year into the life of the Puffalumps, a group of neon, Hawaiian shirt-clad, sunglass-wearing animals made themselves known. Think of them as the louder and more showy relatives of the Puffalumps. They were truly a product of the times, when neon was everything, loudness was prevalent…and cartoons were advertisements.
“Look into my sunglasses…you will buy Wild Puffalumps.”
Oh yes, in addition to commercials like this…
Uploaded by Jude Law…yes, the Jude Law who put up a video from a previous article. Whom I’m sure is still not the real Jude Law.
There were also commercials like this…
Yes, this is a VHS. Yes, it was an animated cartoon. And yes, I did own it at one time.
In 1987, Family Home Entertainment (in the United States) and Cineplex Odeon Home Video/MCA (in Canada) released The Wild Puffalumps, produced by the Canadian animation company Nelvana, as a tie-in to the toyline. The short special/22-minute advertisement is about two children, Holly and Kevin, whom upon moving into a new house, discover a book in the attic-about a group of animals who wear Hawaiian shirts, and then find a map that leads them to The Isle of Wild, where their adventures truly begin!
And end. Because it only happened once.
I really wish I had proof of this cartoon’s existence beyond the video box, but beyond screenshots and pictures of the box that I’ve found through Google searches, this is about all I could find on You Tube, and you’ll have to skip to 1:47.
Uploaded by ThePreviewsGuy VHSOpenings
This actually was on You Tube a few years back (believe it or not, I planned on sitting through it for the purpose of writing a recap about it), and is the only proof that’s left on the interwebs of its video existence. It’s no longer there, but for some reason, it has always stuck with me, despite the 29 years it has been a relic of life. Maybe it was the colors, the characters, or the story itself (I’m convinced the stickers had something to do with it, too), but even the benefit of an adult-age viewing was a good thing – this was not the worst cartoon I watched growing up. Trust me, the adventures of two kids on an island separated from the rest of society and surrounded by neon animals in Hawaiian shirts is far better in quality and premise than some of the other cartoons that had far less flash and scared my mom out of the room.
(Sidebar/True Story: My mom had to leave the room whenever The Adventures of David the Gnome came on Nickelodeon – she didn’t know what disturbed her more – gnomes or Tom Bosley as the voice of a gnome. She can’t look at gnomes today without shuddering.)
And speaking of flash, that’s what the Wild Puffalumps were…a flash in the pan. The grouping within the Puffalump line were introduced and discontinued within 1987, and it became proof that the 1980s could handle only so much neon, holographic sunglasses, and the word “Wild” being bandied around like the one-word catchphrase it was clearly meant to be.
Because “Schwing,” “Excellent,” Rad,” and “Gnarly” were not nearly as great or acceptable as “WILD!”
Hence, the Isle of Wild became a one-way trip, and then Wild Puffalumps were never seen nor heard from again.
Another thing that has never have been seen nor heard from again (for a totally different – and likely very good – reason):
I kid you not, this was the other insert that came with the video. Something tells me Fisher-Price REALLY wanted to ride this train to flashy trend overkill.
And there you have it, a short-lived spoke in the wheel of Fisher-Price’s Puffalumps line. Though visually exciting and memorable if only for having a cartoon the other Puffalumps couldn’t claim to have, it remains a trend of the time it came from – a time of cartoons-as-toy-advertising, neon, and parachutes as more than just something we played with in gym class.
Allison loves her ability to find the treasure that is obscure nostalgia, and chooses to display it all over here and at her other home on the interwebs, Allison’s Written Words. You can find her there, and you can follow her blog on Facebook, and her on Twitter @AllisonGeeksOut.
The confession was truth – she really did own a Puffalump, her’s just wasn’t Wild. She thinks it was something like this.