After sending out our newsletter last week, we have received so many requests for our Noodoll interview to be shared on the blog - so, here it is!
Noodoll is a brand that is close to our hearts at Bobby Rabbit: just like us, they have a very special story to tell. Both our kids are big fans too - and we're very happy to admit that our home is inhabited by Ricemonsters in almost every room!
So, when founder Yiying Wang kindly offered to tell us all about her brand, we were all ears... Read on to find out more.
So, tell us the Noodoll story!
Yiying: I grew up in Taiwan, surrounded by Japanese food and culture. Ever since my early childhood, I have been fascinated by characters! The idea for Noodoll came about during my MA, when I decided to create my very own series of characters and tales of their imaginary world. There were two towns - Ricetown (where the characters lived in a rice bowl) and Noodletown (where they lived in a takeaway noodle box).
Who was your very first Noodoll character?
My first character was 'Noodoll' - he was the 'star' and head of Noodletown. And 'Ricehead' - head of Ricetown! These guys were fierce rivals, and so the story began. The Noodletown characters had long, thin eyes shaped like noodles, whereas the Ricetown characters had little round eyes!
Did you make toy versions of them?
Yiying: Not straight away. I started out producing t-shirts and bags featuring the characters from Noodletown and Ricetown. At this stage, the brand was aimed more at adults than kids. I published a story book all about this imaginary world I had created, and here you can see some of the early characters in illustrations:
When did you start to produce the toys?
Yiying: I had been thinking about creating toy versions for a while, so in 2009 I founded the Noodoll brand. I wanted to keep the characters really friendly - to appeal to both kids and grown ups - so I focused on the characters of Ricetown, as they were cuter looking!
So who came first?
Yiying: 'Ricemon' and 'Riceroar' were my first 'toy' characters. I started with gadget holders, stationery and badges, and then developed them into toys. Each year, as our following grew, I developed more characters! The toys are still made in Taiwan, but each one is hand-stuffed in our studio in London. It is really important to me that the characters retain their individual personality and perfect shape, and this is why the hand-finishing element is so important. Every character is special and unique.
Pictured above: Ricemon (grey and pink monster) and Riceroar (brown monster) - the very first Noodoll toys.
Which are your favourite characters today?
Yiying: My personal favourite has to be 'Ricemelon', a green watermelon character who is new for summer! Our customer favourites are Ricecracker, Ricepuffy and Ricecarrot, the pink bunny.
So, what's next for Noodoll?
Yiying: Well, last month we published a new book with Thames and Hudson called 'A Day in Ricetown'. It's a children's activity book based on the adventures of our favourite Ricemonsters. We are just launching our new blanket collection too - along with plans for new characters for next year's collection... It's a busy time and I am very lucky to have an amazing creative team behind me. Our studio is buzzing with new ideas every day!
Pictured above: 'A Day in Ricetown', a new children's activity book by Noodoll.
If you like what you are seeing, why not take a look at our Noodoll soft toy collection, and see which one is your favourite...
Many thanks to Yiying for such a fun insight into the Noodoll brand, and of course to the whole team at Noodoll for giving us so many fun characters to choose from!