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Out-of-the-blue email is the best thing about having a website:

From: Jodi
Date: Sat, 3 May 2003
Subject: oobi

Hi Doc,

While flipping channels this morning, I landed on a kids show called Oobi. It was funny because I thought it had a strong resemblance to my father's toy, Oobi. I went online to try and find more information on it and came across your website. What a great website! Who knew that anyone remembered Oobi, but my family and I. I have searched on ebay on numerous occasions for Oobi, but never thought to do a site search. My father passed away two years ago, but I know he would have gotten a kick that his huge flop was finally appreciated all these years later. I saw in your bio that a man by the name of Ron Hellman is claimed to be the inventor. Never hearing of him I did a search. I found that the only info on him was taken from a short story by a Dr. Allan (posted on Dr. Allan's website). My father was an inventor in the toy industry for over 40 years. You can see him in Vincent Santelmo's book...The Complete Encyclopedia to GI JOE (3rd Edition). That is another toy he only recently got the proper credit for inventing. To see someone else's name attached to any of my father's inventions is always frustrating. Proper credit might seem like a small thing to some, but to me his ideas and visions brought happiness to people of all ages. No one, not Dr. Allan's short story, or anyone for that matter should take credit for someone else's idea's. What can I say, I'm a proud daughter and just like the facts to be known. Larry Reiner invented Oobi and told people about it proudly, even though no one ever heard of it. Love your website, it just makes me sad that my father never got to see it. He would have loved it!

Best Wishes,
Jodi Reiner

To: Jodi
From: Doc

i am glad you enjoyed it and happy to hear from you. i have found, pretty much universally, that those of us who remember oobi, do so with great fondness.

very sorry to hear of your father's death. i would very much have liked to talk with him and thank him. i don't know hellman's story. i wonder whether he worked on oobi and later his recollections of his involvement grew, or ... ? but i would like to know.

if you have other memories about the invention of oobi that you'd be willing to share with oobi admirers, i would be happy both to know them and to pass them along.

thanks,
doc

From: Jodi
Date: Mon, 5 May 2003
Subject: Re: oobi

Hi Doc,

Glad to receive your response.

Like me, my mom and sisters cannot believe that a website is devoted to Oobi. It is so surprising and fun. Being born after Oobi's hey day.... I think a couple days after, I have few memories that would probable be of interest to you. I do remember adding Oobi to my weeble collection. I was the only kid on my block that had Oobii's, not like that was a huge draw for kids to come over. One day, after a couple young years of playing with Oobii's (I sort of just pushed them around the floor for fun) I asked my Dad what the point of Oobi was. He laughed. When he got to the part where I had to leave my Oobi in some random public place and a stranger comes by and smashes it, horrified, I gathered my flock of Oobii's and continued to push them around the floor. There in lies the exact reason I have come to know why it failed so miserably. No one wanted to buy something they had to give away and/or destroy. So sad, when I wonder where my Oobii's are today, I can only envision them smashed somewhere, noteless.

So, Doc, that's all I really know and remember. That, and my Dad's Oobi cufflinks placed on my book case, keep the memory of Oobii's gone bye. Glad again to have come across someone who loves Oobi as much as me.

When I can grab a computer literate friend with a digital camera, I will forward you a picture of the Oobi cufflinks.

By the way, I just spoke to my mom and she has no idea where I came up with the whole concept of smashing the Oobi to open it. Maybe in my 6 year old head that was the only way I new how to open it and that's how I remember it. Anyway, my mom remember's that he created it with the idea of a "message in a bottle" on land, but keeps going and going and going. She is going to write you though. Hopefully her memory is better than mine.

Best Wishes,
Jodi

To: Jodi
From: Doc

that's how i remember it, too. was there a way to open an oobi without damaging it?

From: Jodi
Date: Tue, 6 May 2003

Well, if there was I never learned the technique.

From: Ellen
Date: Sat, 3 May 2003
Subject: OOBI

FYI, and just to set the record straight...a man by the name of Larry Reiner invented Oobi back in the early 60's while employed at Ideal Toy Corporation. Since then, as you know, Ideal went out of business. Apparently Parker Brothers picked up the patent. Larry Reiner, who died in 2001, also invented GI Joe. How do I know this? Because my name is Ellen Reiner and I was married to Larry at the time.

To: Ellen
From: Doc

hello, ellen

thank you for the information. i am very sorry to hear that mr. reiner died, and sorry i didn't get a chance to thank him for his invention, of which i am quite fond (as is no doubt obvious).

if you have more to say about the invention (i am tempted to say discovery) of oobi, and are inclined to share, please feel free. i would love to know more.

From: Ellen
Date: Mon, 5 May 2003

Hi Doc, and thanks for your reply. I think I was having one of my "senior moments" when I told you that Larry was still with Ideal at the time he invented Oobi. Actually, I believe that he had left Ideal by then to form his own company which was called "Larry Reiner Associates" with offices in New York City. From there he sold his prototypes to all of the major toy manufacturers. His successes were many but his major "flop" was Oobi !!!!!

People were reticent about paying money for something that they were going to "throw" away! The product was patterned after the "Message In A Bottle" idea. People were to write a note and insert it into the slit in Oobi, address it to someone...then leave it on a park bench or other public place where it could then be picked up by someone who would insert his/her own message and leave it again. Hopefully Oobi would arrive at the address to which it was originally sent, containing many notes. Half the fun was writing the instructions!

Larry and I (and Parker Bros.) pictured the world literally littered with Oobis. Little red eggs with big eyes staring at you from everywhere! And royalty checks galore! WRONG. Oobi will go down in history as one of the biggest toy flops!

I must say, however, that I am delighted at your enthusiasm for Oobi. It does my heart good to know that someone else has excellent taste in fun products and appreciates Larry Reiner genius.

Cordially,
Ellen

To: Ellen
From: Doc

thanks again, ellen. it's great to know more about such an elusive little object. i started the site a few years back because i had been trying to gather oobi info & figured others might find it fun & interesting as well.

by the way, this morning i sent an email to dr. allan, asking him for more information on ron hellman. i don't suppose this would have been a name that mr. reiner ever used for anything, would it?

doc

To: Norman Allan
From: doc
Date: Tuesday, May 06, 2003

hello again, dr. allan

doc here, from deuceofclubs.com & the oobiland site. last week i received emails from the daughter & ex-wife of a man whom they claim invented the oobi, rather than ron hellman. i'm looking on google for more info on mr. hellman, but i'm not finding anything relevant. do you have any more information on mr. hellman? was that perhaps a pseudonym?

many thanks,
doc

From: Norman Allan
Date: Tue, 6 May 2003

yes indeed, it was a pseudonym, and while it is years ago, and I am not sure, Hellman rings a bell. I'll ask my ex if she remembers.

From: Norman Allan
Date: Tue, 6 May 2003

Didn't read your email carefully. Whatever name I used in my story ws a fiction. The story is very very close to the truth, otherwise. What name did the wife and daughter give. I'll see if it rings a bell. (Of course Hellman does if I invented it!)

To: Norman Allan
From: Doc

larry reiner. he worked for ideal, hasbro, &c.

apparently, he also came up with GI Joe.

From: Norman Allan
Date: Tue, 6 May 2003

YES (I think) I'll run it past Teresa

From: Norman Allan
Date: Tue, 6 May 2003

don't remember him talking about GI Joe. I meet Hellman-Reiner-Whoever 1976ish

To: Norman Allan
From: Doc

he died, it seems, in 2001. i'm sorry he didn't happen to run across the oobi site before then.

From: Ellen
Date: Wed, 7 May 2003

Good Morning Doc,

Thanks again for your reply. In answer to your question regarding Ron Hellman...no, Larry never used any name but his own. Perhaps, and this is only a guess, Mr. Hellman worked for Parker Brothers at that time. Time has proven that once Larry sold a product to a company for development, marketing and sale, that persons working in that particular company then took credit for the item! Please let me know if you find this to be the case here. Thanks. Have a great day.

Cordially,
Ellen

To: Ellen
From: Doc

dr. allan says his story is a fictionalized account of true events. dr. allan made up the pseudonym "ron hellman" for the purposes of the story. does the hellman character in the story sound like larry reiner? the name did sound familiar to dr. allan, but he said he would run it past his ex-wife to see what she remembered.

doc

From: Ellen
Date: Wed, 7 May 2003
To: Norman Allan, Doc

Dear Dr. Allan,

As you are now probably aware from Doc, the author of the Oobi web site, Larry Reiner was the inventor of Oobi. I did enjoy your story but thought you might like to know the true identity of Oobi's originator.

Back in the early 50's, Larry sold the game of "Battleship" to Ideal Toy Corp. and became (along with his then partner, Stan Geller) head of Ideal's brand new "Toy and Game Division". He worked there for several years before leaving to form his own creative group known as "Larry Reiner Associates" with offices on Madison Ave. in NYC. Larry sold many toys and games to all of the major toy companies until his death in 2001. Not the least of which, "Oobi" - a major flop and "the GIJoe doll" - an incredible success to this very day.

Unlike "Ron Hellman", Larry was bald and heavy! We never lived in Greenwich Village but rather, resided in Woodbury, Long Island for 20 years where we raised our three daughters!

I hope you have found the above information interesting.

Cordially, Ellen Reiner

P.S. Both of Larry's brothers are doctors!

So that's where things stand for now. Have any more information? Let us know. Then (or otherwise), you can check out the oobi 3-pack.