(KTLA) – Last year, a toy company named Mindscope Products had no idea just how big of a hit they had on their hands. Their talking, singing pumpkin called Jabberin’ Jack went viral and inspired various knockoffs.
The high-tech pumpkin has a projector inside and sings, jokes, and resembles a glowing Jack O Lantern.
I spotted it at the 2020 Toy Fair in New York City (my last travel segment before COVID) and made a video about it on Instagram. It quickly went viral.
“We went from [selling] 20 or 30 units a day to 500 units a day,” explained George Balanchi, founder of Mindscope.
That’s when the problems started. Scam artists saw an opportunity, ripped off the video, and sold copycats on social media.
“People [were] getting 99 cent pumpkins, like maybe 2, 3 inches in diameter,” explained Balanchi.
Complaints overwhelmed the Glendale-based company. Although they tried to explain the situation to customers that contacted them, there wasn’t much they could do.
“[We told them] Next time, find a local address, check them out on Google Maps, call them, just ask them questions, but they didn’t like us telling them that, they were pretty upset that they got scammed,” said Balanchi.
Now, with a major lesson learned, the company is hoping to strike Holiday gold once again with two new animated decorations.
Mr. Chill is a crooning snowman.
“He sings, he jokes, and he never melts,” quipped Balanchi.
Fawny is a reindeer.
“The eyes for Fawny was really important to capture this whimsical feel,” explained Balanchi.
Each sells for $60 and features about 45 minutes of talking, singing animation.
While the company can’t predict if they’ll have a similar hit, this time around they’re better prepared to take on copycats.
“We love Santa Claus, but he’s everywhere so we figured snowman and reindeer would be the right fit,” concluded Balanchi.
The official products can be found here: https://www.animat3d.com/