Remember your favorite toy growing up? It probably had lots of different pieces or sets so that every time your mom took you shopping anywhere, you begged her to stop off at a toy store and buy the newest must-have addition to your set. Well, for me, that toy was the Littlest Pet Shop.
Littlest Pet Shop, or LPS as we aficionados referred to it, started out with a pet shop designed like a tackle box of sorts and containing all sorts of little animals. We owned probably over a hundred of these creatures and meticulously named each one. Many of them were magnetized, allowing them to appear to kiss each other or follow a chew toy. They gave the appearance of being very smart and adorable, as this commercial will demonstrate:
If you Google Littlest Pet Shop now, you will find yourself beset by the new version of Littlest Pet Shop characters. They have creepy, googly eyes and lame accessories, and I want to distance myself as much as possible from any assumptions that these are the pets to which I refer. Our pets were way, way cooler. Since the 1996 collection, Hasbro Toys has really taken this toy series downhill.
Since the original LPS characters have been discontinued, there are now forums where people can post photos of their sets and place want ads for the characters that are missing from their collections. This forum in particular is worth visiting just to read their overly particular terms of service agreement. Just a few minutes of Internet searching will show you that this site is the agreed upon authority for all vintage LPS information. Although our fascination with LPS never reached the extreme of some others, we did name each pet and bestow upon each one a personality which remained consistent throughout our hours of play. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that even now, when I see our LPS pets, I can still remember most of their names. Don’t believe me? I’ll prove it.
Welcome to the tour of Sarah and Ben’s Littlest Pet Shop Nomenclature and Temperament Review
1) First, the Littlest Shop Playset. Please forgive the poor quality of the photos – despite the extensive fan base which I have established for you, the number of quality photos is fairly limited. This was the start of it all. It contained a cash register, a counter for the cash register to sit upon, and lots of room for the pets and their accessories. Despite its spacious interior, a very complex arrangement was required to fit our 100+ pets, food dishes, leashes, beds, fences, and other accouterments into it. We of course referred to this play set as the Pet Store (they only sold food and such items at this one – not pets.) A bunny named Bunny was in charge of the cash register. No joke.
Note the interior as well, complete with that old-fashioned cash register and display shelf in the store window.
2) My personal favorite were the Shetland ponies, a mother and a daughter. They came with their own corral and a cardboard cutout of a pasture. The cutout even featured a salt lick, which I think is special. The best part, though, would be the names I conjured up for these, my all-time favorite LPS pets: The mama pony was named Faith, and the baby was named… Baby.
3) These friendly kitties were sisters. The yellow was named Peanut Butter, and the gray was Cherry. As I recall, Peanut Butter played the part of cool aunt for all the kittens and puppies in the community. Cherry was an extremely one-dimensional character. Her one distinguishing characteristic was that when the animals gathered on Sundays for church services, Cherry was the pianist. As it turned out, the motion that her creators gave her to simulate scratching on a post also looked a lot like plunking out a tune on the keyboard that came with the Beethoven’s 2nd LPS set. The moment we discovered this special ability, Cherry was hired.
We also enjoyed making use of the litterbox that accompanied this set. Kids those days…
4) There is not a whole lot to say about the lovebirds. They perched on the edge of town, bickered with the baby pets that trespassed, and periodically fulfilled their lovebird calling by turning to one another in a somewhat dispassionate kiss. Their names? Bob and Quagmire.
5) Puppet the poodle, Brownie the preaching golden retriever, and Buddy the friendly mutt also saw a good bit of playing time. Puppet owned the hair salon, and all the boy dogs fawned over her all the time. She lived happily in this little house with her two friends. Buddy was everyone’s friend, and his magnetic head could fetch the magnetic newspaper. By wagging Brownie’s tail, you could cause his hand to move up and down in a shake… but we made better use of this feature than that. We made Brownie the community’s preacher, and no sermon was complete without forcing Brownie’s hand into a very forceful shake while he urged the churchgoers, “Repent! Repent!” I should note that we spent an inordinate amount of our childhood listening to Wesleyan holiness preachers during revival meetings.
I will spare you the rest. I could continue on about Ginger and Fee Fee, the canine pair that adopted the orphan puppies; Echo the mother cat and her many kittens (Pinky, Cookie, Ivy, Tuna, and Snowflake); the bunny family, whose babies we were constantly losing then finding again; Simba and Zazoo who made us laugh over and over, even though we were the ones making up the story; and so on. But, like I said, this is probably enough Littlest Pet Shop information for one day.
Ah, good memories.