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Popples is a Saturday morning cartoon, based on the Popples toys, that aired in the United States from 1986 to 1987. The pilot was a live-action Shelley Duvall special, in which they were puppets and marionettes; after this was well-received, it was decided to make a cartoon series with the same characters. The cartoon was produced by Di C Entertainment and LBS Communications and animated by KKC and D Asia, Madhouse (yes, that Madhouse), Studio Korumi and Studio Shaft. It was also made into a line of toys in 1986. The idea for the franchise came from rolling up socks.
The name "Popple" is a reference to the popping sound they make when unfolding themselves from such a ball, or in the cartoon, pulling objects from their pouches.
Nine of the Popples live with a human brother and sister, Billy and Bonnie Wagner. Billy and Bonnie think they are the only kids who have Popples until a neighbor family moves in and they have their own Popples — the Rock Stars, Pufflings, and Babies. Two very late episodes feature the "Sports" Popples. The Popples tend to come around and mess up whatever the kids are trying to do; e.g., if the kids are trying to brush their teeth, the Popples end up spilling water, toothpaste and soap all over the bathroom. If the kids are trying to clean their rooms, the Popples come along, mess up the room even worse and then help them get everything back to normal just in the nick of time. The plot revolved around the children's efforts to hide the existence of the Popples from the adults around them.
Popples commonly pull large items from their pouches that couldn't possibly fit inside, which come from hammerspace; in "Popples Alley", Bonnie looks inside Puffball's pouch and sees numerous objects floating in a void.
This show contains examples of:
- Added Alliterative Appeal: All of the Popples' names (except for the Baby Popples, and the Sports Popples) begin with a "P".
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: In "Pop Goes The Radio", Putter asks the audience to look for goggles in his pouch, before some hit him in the head.
- In "Backyard Adventure", PC does this.
- In "Popples Alley", before Bonnie looks into Puffball's pouch, Puffballl says "Hey kids! Come here! I've got something to show you!"
- Camera Abuse: In one episode, a baseball "breaks" the viewer's TV set.
- This happens a lot in season two. If the Rockstars sing a song that is not made up by the Rockstars or isn't a marching song, camera abuse is bound to happen. For example, in one episode, they sang Row Your Boat, and in another, they sang Rockabye Baby.
- Episodes which are exceptions include Funhouse Folly and Fixer-Upper Popples.
- Cartoon First: The Popples first made an appearance in a 1985 live action televison special before they were made into toys.
- Hammerspace: Popples pull out things too large to fit inside their pouches (ex: anvils, elephants)
- In one episode, Pretty Bit says "I've got nothing but a pouch full of stuffing", referencing hammerspace
- And as said above, Popples Alley has a scene about Hammerspace.
- Also, Putter said "Look into my pouch!" in Pop Goes The Radio.
- "Party! Get your hand out of my pouch!"
- Gratuitous Japanese: In one episode, it sounds like Bibsy is saying "omocha" when pointing to a cuckoo clock. "Omocha" means "toy" in Japanese.
- Nobody Poops: Averted in Museum Peace, in which the Pufflings drop an egg on one of the Popples.
- The Baby Popples also don't wear diapers. This maybe because of this trope, or probably because they may have been potty-trained.
- Product Placement: In the live action pilot, Goodwill plays a major role, because Billy and Bonnie did not want their Popples to go there.
- Rhymes on a Dime: Pretty Bit
- Talking To Herself: Louise (now, "Stevie") Vallance later plays Punkity--one of the Rock Star Popples--in addition to her usual role as Party.
- The Fashionista: Prize
- Theme Tune Cameo: In the episode "Treasure Of Popple Beach", it plays in the background when the Popples try to find a way home.
- This happens again at the end of "Poppin' At The Drive In".
- And yet again in "Funhouse Folly"!
- Also, one of the pieces of background music sounds like a peaceful, slowed down version of the intro.