Success breeds imitation. And in the '90s, there was no
bigger success than Beanie Babies. Originally intended for young children, the cute little plush animals appealed to adults as well, and were soon swept up in the speculator bubble we've talked about before. Soon, everybody was trying to cash in on the fad - including, in 1997, Topkat LLC with their Meanies line.
Aimed at a slightly older audience, the Meanies' gimmick was gross-out humor: it gave us characters like Phlemingo; Velocicrapper; Lucky the one-legged rabbit; Floaty the upside-down fish; Si and Mia the conjoined twin cats; and today's star, Splat the Road Kill Kat.
Splat the Road Kill Kat didn't cross at the green.
A big truck was coming that couldn't be seen.
To the left and the right
this kat didn't look,
and now poor Splat is as flat as a book!
Yes, like many of the knockoffs, Meanies copied the Beanie Babies' poetic tags. And like Beanie Babies', they were terrible. Splat is indeed a cat who's been run over by a car. Truck. Whichever. There are tire tracks across the middle of his back, bandages on his arm and tail, and one eye bulging out of his face (the other is gone, replaced by a simple black X). His tongue pokes out cutely.
Meanies are constructed a lot like Beanies: a plush outer shell made of a cotton/poly blend, and filled with a mixture of PVC beads and stuffing. The head is just regular polyester fiber fill, while the body and limbs get the beads.
The torso is sewn into three sections - top, middle and bottom - and while the two ends get a full dose of beads, the middle is empty, so it can truly be flat. There's a tire tread pattern across the back. His bandages are thick material stitched in place, and there are stiff threads sticking out of his snout to be whiskers.
The construction is surprisingly good for a quick knockoff. The seams are small, with strong, tight stitching, and none of the panels end up wrinkling or mis-stitched. The eyes and nose are hard ABS plastic. Somebody really put a lot of care and thought into designing this poor little kitty.
A lot of the Meanies were just stupid, but there were a few, like Splat the Road Kill Kat, who found just the right balance of cute and gross. And because Meanies have held their value just about as well as real Beanie Babies have, if there are any you like, you can pick them up super cheap.