You’ll need to be an older Child of the 1980’s to remember this one (i.e. you were actually born in the Seventies), but I’m including it because it was one of those things I have very fond memories of from my childhood, even though those memories are lacking in any real clarity of details. All I really remember is that at the time, I loved it!
Barbapapa was a series of originally French language books, and later a cartoon series (which is how I mainly remember it), created by Annette Tison and Talus Taylor. The first book was published in 1970, whilst the most recent appeared as recently as 2005!
So who is this Barbapapa then? Well, he’s a big pink blob, who’s natural shape appears to be something like a pear. I say natural shape as he has the ability to squish and mould himself into any shape he chooses (a bit like The New Shmoo, another obscure reference for you there).
Whilst something big, pink and amorphous might seem terrifying, Barbapapa was anything but. He was a friendly sort who liked to help out people with problems however he could, which usually meant he would transform himself into some object or other that would prove particularly useful for the situation at hand.
He may well of started off on his own, but it wasn’t long before he got himself a family. First he met Barbamama, a female blob who was jet black in colour, and with curves that suggested a more feminine form. I guess the writers probably regretted their choice of colour for Barbapapa at this point, as pink might have made more sense for a female of the species, but there you go. However along with her shape, she also wore a ring of flowers around the top of her head, to make her look just a little more girl like.
The pair went on to have a family of Barbababies, each of which tended to have a different area of expertise. The female children had a natural shape most like their mother, whilst the boys generally looked more like their father. Each of the children was also a different colour, and unsurprisingly had a name starting with Barba!
The children were Barbalala (green and musical), Barbabright (blue with an interest in all things scientific), Barbabelle (violet in hue, and the self proclaimed beauty of the bunch), Barbazoo (the yellow ecologist and animal lover), Barbalib (the orange book worm), Barbabeau (black, an artist, and the only hairy one, at least as far as we can tell), and finally Barbabravo (red, strong and sporty, although also fancied himself as a bit of a detective).
I can’t say I’ve seen much in the way of Barbapapa related items in the shops myself, but a quick search on Amazon and eBay seems to suggest there is still a great deal of interest in the lovable pink blob, as there are books, DVDs, clothes and toys readily available (check out the links below for evidence!). The characters have proved very popular in Japan, which might explain why so many interesting items are available, but I also wonder if Barbapapa is still very popular in his native France?