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Kamar History

For over three decades, Pascal Kamar (better known as PK) led one of the most innovative, high-quality toy companies in America with his partner in business and life, Astrid.

Under PK's direction, Kamar® toys were sold in 36 nations and in all 50 states. PK designed thousands stuffed animals and dolls, but Kamar® was most famous for bringing the character E.T. into the homes of millions of children and adults around the world with one of the most successful licensed toy products ever, the "stuffed toy" version of E.T.
PK - Life Magazine
Early Years
PK and Astrid originally started a business importing products from Africa, Japan and the Middle East. Then, without any artistic training and a moment of inspiration, Pascal came up with the design for Hexter, a troll-like creature that would be "a wild-eyed, long-haired predecessor" to the troll doll of the '60s, which quickly became a popular seller.
Astrid & Pascal Kamar With Hexter's success and a new found love for plush toys, PK went to Japan and invested in every plush he could manufacture. Unfortunately, the products he produced languished on the shelves. PK and Astrid quickly realized the secret to Hexter's success was in PK's designs. From that point forward, PK began to personally design their toys.

Kamar® set up offices in the South Bay area of Los Angeles. Astrid looked after marketing and domestic sales while PK handled production, foreign sales, and the all-important designs.

In early 1963, PK had another moment of inspiration, and invented a JFK doll, complete with a rocking chair that played "Happy Days Are Here Again." He sent a sample to President Kennedy, who loved it so much he posed for a pictured in Life Magazine with it. JFK's popularity extended to PK's doll, and Kamar® sold a million dollars' worth.

Soon after, PK was asked by Disney to supply the dolls for the Hawaiian section of one of Walt's favorite creations, "It's A Small World." Disney so admired the craftsmanship of the Kamar® dolls that many Kamar products were stocked in the Disney Stores.
Quality and Safety
Just a few short years into the business, Kamar® had earned the reputation for being the leader in quality and originality. Collectors lamented the shortage of Kamar® products in the re-sell market; the toys had a reputation for staying with their original owners as prized possessions. PK became known as "the most copied plush toy designer in America," and Astrid represented Kamar® as a member of the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition, appearing in numerous radio and television shows to create consumer awareness and urge tougher penalties for violations.

Retailers knew they could count on Kamar® for products of the highest quality; as a result of the attention to detail, adults started buying toys for themselves as well as their kids. PK once said in response to adults' love for his toys, "You can get too old to carry a security blanket, but not too old to buy a Kamar® stuffed toy, even if you pretend it's for someone else." Kamar® products were sold in gift shops, toy stores, drugstores, bowling alleys, zoos and even exclusive dress shops in Hollywood.

Kamar® was one of the first toy manufacturers to implement a Swiss metal-detecting machine as a safety measure and led the way in the use of new fabrics, materials and accessories. In order to ensure the leather and suede in their toys was of the finest quality possible, Astrid went to Portugal, known for its leather goods, and established a small factory in a tiny fishing village.
Astrid & Pascal Kamar One of PK's innovative products, Dear Heart Bear, replicated a mother's heartbeat as a means to soothe newborns. The company also was the first to personally name all of their dolls and animals. Under Astrid's direction, Kamar® also formed a "Teenage Advisory Council" in 1969. Seven high-school girls from different areas of Los Angeles met biweekly to advise the company on trends and products that were of interest to teens.

When the company grew to the point where Astrid no longer knew every buyer on a first-name basis (by the late '60s, there were some 15,000 of them), she did something about it. While PK was away on a business trip, Astrid bought a twin-engine Beechcraft plane that she christened K-Liner and outfitted it into a comfortable "showroom in the sky."

Astrid flew the K-Liner around the country, taking her area sales force and buyers up in the plane for two-hour jaunts. After flying over the buyers' homes and businesses and feeding them lunch, Astrid would present the new products to her captive audiences. Four flights were booked back-to-back each day, and it was rare for a client to miss such a presentation. Sales literally took off.
In 1972, PK was one of the first American businessmen to visit China. When he discovered that China was giving two pandas to America, he anticipated the "Panda-monium" that would follow, and he immediately manufactured and sold over 200,000 stuffed pandas.
In the early '80s an executive investigating companies to make toys for his upcoming Steven Spielberg production took his children to the toy store, telling them to pick out a stuffed animal. They chose Kamar's® Monkey-Do, a stuffed vinyl monkey doll with extra long arms. The next day, the executive was on the phone with PK and Astrid.

After meeting with Spielberg, PK was reluctant to take on the job of manufacturing the real-life version of the famous alien because he had always designed his own products. He finally agreed to take on the challenge of making such an awkward-looking creature into a toy that children would adore.

Kamar® expanded to 30 factories to keep up with the demand for the various E.T. stuffed toys. It was estimated that Kamar® sold 7 million E.T. toys in the first six months after the movie release.

Later Years
At a young age PK's son Christopher, had so much love for his father's business, he was inspired to ride his bike 30 miles to the factory every day after school to work in the warehouse. In the late '70s and '80s, Christopher earned his stripes working in telemarketing, shipping, sales, design and production. He also accompanied PK on his travels, learning the ins-and-outs of the business along the way.
With Christopher as a part of the team, Kamar would again add licensed characters to its repertoire of original designs with the toys for the original "Inspector Gadget" animated series as well as a newspaper cartoon called "Love Is." Christopher also introduced the idea of "cute and cuddly" to the NFL with overstuffed logo-laden figures and won the NFL's 1985 Best New Product Award.

In 1990, after more than 30 years traveling the world in the toy business, PK decided to retire from life in the fast lane to enjoy travel at leisure, spending more time with his family and friends. He also opened a restaurant in St Andrews, Scotland. At the time, Christopher had made a choice to chase a few dreams of his own, and he decided to put the Kamar business on hold. Now 30 years later the copyrights are being offered for sale giving the right buyer or company the opportunity to manufacture any or all of the Kamar designs.

PK passed away in May, 2006 after a lengthy battle with diabetes and Astrid passed away in 2014.

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