We had the great opportunity to discuss the old days with some of the original creators of the Mexican toy company, Ensueño Muñecas y Juguetes (Dolls and Toys). They were in direct competition with Lili Ledy, EXIN, Plastimarx and CIPSA for the children’s toy market in the 1970s, and obtained a few licenses from MEGO for distribution of toys in Mexico. Ensueño means “Beautiful Dream” and that passion came through every word we heard from these wonderful people.
After developing the name for their company, and fooling around with the look of the letters, as graphic artists do, the idea of the caterpillar emerged. They were experienced in comic book art and also picked up work with Hanna Barbera to supplement the toy income. The caterpillar was formed by using all lower-case letters and adding some details. In the television commercials, the caterpillar Ensueño logo even comes to life and crawls across the screen.
Of all the boxes for the six different Voladores Articulados (Vuela de Verdad means “They truly fly”), the Superman box we looked at together held a lot of importance. One of the attendees was the box artist and had not seen an example of it since the mid-1980s, when the lucky neighborhood kids received their Ensueño overstock as holiday gifts. It was a stroke of graphic genius to use the box packaging as the telephone booth. That doubled the play value of the toy.
The work involved in making Ensueño Toys a successful business meant that the creators were always making everything. They worked in the design room and on the production line. They filmed, edited, looped, directed, produced and distributed their own television commercials. Kids in the area would star in them. Hair dryers were used to create wind effects. It was a labor of love from start to finish and through pure ingenuity they managed every aspect of the business.
With the camera rolling, fresh food and watermelon juice at the ready, we talked about CIPSA Apes, Ensueño Elastics, Lili Ledy Heroes, and all of the USA companies and top executives trying to get into the Mexican market. MEGO, Mattel and Kenner had their hands full with the various lines they pushed through different companies in Mexico. But over and over again, we heard that American businessmen really didn’t stand a chance to make it big down in Mexico without the support and assistance of the locals. We also discussed the impact of NAFTA, and how that brought along the end of their ability to compete and make a living in toys. Eventually, TYCO bought Ensueño and things changed forever.
Resources were often scarce during some of the heavy toy-making seasons, due to shortages from importers. This led to looting by other toy companies. Packaging cardboard was frequently stolen from factories, and that forced creative marketing solutions, such as showroom buying and television game show giveaways. We have an hour long television special hosted and sponsored by Ensueño and it is amazing to see so many boxed Elastic Heroes in one place. It will be available for viewing soon.
Ensueño Muñecas y Juguetes, we love you!