“I don’t wanna grow up! I’m a Toys”R”Us kid!”
Who among us didn’t know the words to that jingle when they were growing up, begged their parents to take them to the nearest Toys”R”Us store, or circled dozens of toys and games that they wanted in the yearly holiday catalogs? It’s a safe bet to say that all of us are Toys”R”Us kids, thanks to Charles P. Lazarus who founded the iconic company in June 1957.
In 1965, Toys”R”Us would receive its first brand mascot in Geoffrey the Giraffe. The earliest version of Geoffrey was known as “Dr. G. Raffe” and was created to represent Children’s Bargain Town, Lazarus’ first store that sold baby furniture and toy merchandise. The artist who designed the original Dr. G. Raffe made the Toys”R”Us version much more lifelike — and a store associate renamed him Geoffrey.
Geoffrey would appear in print ads throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, continuing to grow in popularity with kids of all ages. He made his first commercial debut in 1973 for Toys”R”Us appearing alongside hundreds of enthusiastic children dancing in the streets.
In 1975, Geoffrey introduced his family to the world with members including his wife Gigi and son and daughter, Junior and Baby Gee. Geoffrey received a makeover during this time period, with rounder eyes and a tuft of hair added on his head. His horns grew smaller and his spots became a bit rounder.
All throughout the 1980s, Geoffrey and his family members enjoyed making appearances in stores, parades, and other fun events. When they weren’t celebrating a new Toys”R”Us store opening, they could be found travelling in the Geoffreymobile, a double-decker bus fueled on potato chips, and residing at their home, a lighthouse in New England.
Life-size versions of Geoffrey were also spotted in TV commercials during the ‘80s, taking kids on adventures to Toys”R”Us stores and sharing news of all the great toys they would discover upon their arrival.
In 1999, Gigi, Junior, and Baby Gee decided to bow out of the spotlight so that Geoffrey could continue personifying the nature of the true Toys”R”Us customer — which, of course, were kids! Geoffrey was made over with a new image that showcased him as a fun-loving mascot and also as a bit of a kid himself.
However, his biggest redesign came two years later when Geoffrey went from being an animated mascot to becoming a real-life giraffe! Created by Stan Winston Studios, an animatronic version of Geoffrey was born in 2001, making his image more realistic than ever before. And who’s doing the voice for that talking giraffe, anyway? Jim Hanks, brother to actor Tom Hanks, provided the vocal talent for this version of Geoffrey.
Geoffrey would be revamped once more in 2007 to communicate the company’s message “We’re New Again!” He would return to cartoon form, with a big toothy grin and stars instead of spots to represent the magic of the Toys”R”Us brand. While Geoffrey might change to fit into different decades, we’ll never grow out of seeing his friendly face — and we’ll always be Toys”R”Us kids at heart.
Image credit: Toys”R”Us