Upsy Downsy

About the Author

Thank you for visiting this site, and if you choose to become a member, I hope you will enjoy it.

Upsy Downsys were introduced to me by my aunt, Wanda Clearwaters, who worked at Mattel when they were being made (though she did not work on them) and knew the designers. She made this project possible by putting me in touch with her former colleagues.

Despite the long passage of time since my introduction to Upsy Downsys, I never tired of them.

A plush recreation of the Great Huff, made by my aunt (and former Mattel employee) Wanda Clearwaters for my ninth birthday in 1976. He's been looking over my bed ever since. Photo taken in 2011.

Since 1998, I have been contributing to publications including Cinefantastique, StarWars.com, Star Trek magazine, and Premiere Online, interviewing filmmakers on such movies as The Lord of the Rings, Shrek, and Spider-Man (2002). I have also interviewed theme park designers about such attractions as Spider-Man: The Ride and various Disney projects.

The main body of this work includes "The Story of the Upsy Downsys," which encompasses the earliest beginnings of the toy line up to the products reaching store shelves and reflections by designers decades later (totaling over 22,840 words); "Dream Job": Memories of Mattel, a look back at Mattel circa the late 1960s and early '70s by former employees (almost 4,920 words); and Memories of Gordon Shireman, a tribute to the late creator of the Upsys (and designer of several Liddle Kiddles products) based on interviews with friends-colleagues, family, and Shireman himself, as well as documents (over 4,500 words).

This site is the product of years of research, going back to 2000, and it will expand. In some cases, material already gathered was not included for time reasons, and it is hoped additional information and visuals will continue to surface.

Throughout this endeavor, I've been surprised at how much information I've been able to attain three and four decades after these relatively obscure toys appeared and disappeared from toy stores. (I sometimes wonder how much bigger this project might have been had I been old enough to undertake it much earlier, say in the early '70s.) The fact so many Mattel designers remember Upsy Downsys 43+ years later continues to amaze me.

The basis for most of my research has been interviews. A few of them are presented both in the main narrative and separately in their original question-and-answer forms (i.e., those with Gordon Shireman, Sam Cornell, and Alex Laird). Thus, readers can see the statements in their original contexts and learn information that did not fit into the main body. For example, there is a significant amount of career information about Cornell and Laird only in the q&a interviews. Both of them did impressive and interesting work outside the toy industry. (Laird told me that, aside from our conversation, she rarely discussed her non-toy work.)

Throughout this website, biographical information about Mattel alumni is provided, sometimes in the words of the person, other times in the words of friends and workmates. However, there were instances where it was doubtful or unclear if individuals wanted their biographical information included. Whenever there was any uncertainty, I did not compile such material. While this endeavor is based on historical research, I have also tried to respect people's privacy.

As often as possible, I tried to corroborate people's statements that were based on decades-old memories. As is evident in the text, there were areas where memories agreed and areas where they disagreed. (As an example of the former, both Sam Cornell and Alex Laird recalled coming up with the name Miss Information. Also, at least three people remembered devising the idea of two worlds: one right-side-up, the other upside-down.)

However, as noted, there was much agreement, too.

Thank you again for your interest in this site.

Notes from my first conversation with Project Manager Ralph Dunn in early 1992. His memories remained consistent in the ensuing years and whenever possible were corroborated.

Regarding Copyright and Registration Fee

This site is not affiliated with Mattel, which produced Upsy Downsys in 1970 and owns the rights. This is a non-profit endeavor. Money that does not go to maintaining the site is donated to charity--grassroots Native American causes, many concerning environmental issues. (Elaboration on the causes are available upon request.)

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