It's utterly astounding how the most amazing things come to fruition from the simplest of ideas. The Wizard of Oz originally grew from stories L. Frank Baum spun for neighborhood children. The inception of Uglydoll began in a love letter.
David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim met while attending the Parsons School of Design in New York City. Sun-Min returned to her home country of Korea in the fall of 2001 and David to Los Angeles, California. The separation did nothing to dampen their dreams and they cultivated their relationship through correspondence. Absence not only made their hearts grow fonder, it ignited creative sparks. David signed his letters with an illustrations of an odd little orange character he called Wage. Sun-Min surprised David with a hand made plush Wage for Christmas.
David proudly showed his new critter to a friend who owned the pop culture toy shop Giant Robot. The friend was so enamored with Wage, he wanted to sell some in his shop. Within two weeks, Sun-Min completed 20 more. David dropped them off at Giant Robot one morning and returned home that evening to an email requesting more. The entire batch sold out that day!
Over the next 18 months, Sun-Min sewed 1,500 Uglydolls based on the inhabitants of David's "uglyverse". Product was moving faster than her hands could keep up so changes had to be made.
In January of 2003, Sun-Min returned to the United States to marry David and expand the "uglyverse". They unleashed the Uglydolls at Toy Fair and Uglydoll mania ensued.
Uglydoll started as a modest little plush, but now there are books, figurines, partyware, kitchen items, decor, clothing......Uglydoll can be found in just about every medium imaginable. Hollywood better brace itself. There's even a feature film in the works.
Over the past couple of years, Uglydoll has engaged in fun co-branded partnerships with Hello Kitty, the rock band KISS, Universal Monsters, DC Comics, and Start Trek. Just released is Uglydoll's homage to The Wizard of Oz.
The appeal of Uglydoll is very much the same as The Wizard of Oz. Misfits are able to embrace their own eccentricities and work with the quirks of others for a greater good. The philosophies of the "uglyverse" are ugly means unique, ugly means different, ugly is BEAUTIFUL! Keeping those themes in mind, The Wizard of Oz and Uglydoll lend themselves very well.
The Wizard of Oz Uglydolls are arriving in stores now. Get in touch with your inner ugly and let's go over the rainbow!!
One-on-One: Uglydoll's Chief Ugly Alita Friedman
The David Horvath interview by Ploom2
Ugly Toys, Cute Story
How to Build an Empire
Ugly Dolls were a labor of love
A love letter Begets Dolls
Uglydoll Wizard of Oz press release
Ugly Doll Photos Courtesy Ugly Doll
Graphics created exclusively for The Curiozity Corner by Mat Wallis