Can you imagine Barney as a Stegosaurus, Triceratops, or Giraffatitan? Early sketches, like ancient cave drawings from centuries gone by, explored many options for the original pudgy purple pal—before he actually came to life It all started around a table. The television show’s producers, creator, and the Irene Corey Costume Design team considered the possibilities. They began with the idea of a plush toy dinosaur—closely resembling a Tyrannosaurus Rex, which comes to life. He would enchant children with stories and songs that teach basic human values, such as good manners, acceptance, honesty, sharing, loyalty, and generosity. They defined the attributes first—approachability, “hug-ability,” and playfulness. Though somewhat awkward and bumbling, the affable creature dances, cheers, and sings with great zeal. Therefore, they also needed to build special functionality to allow his mouth to move freely.
As the team fine-tuned its evolving concept, they determined the realism of dinosaur teeth and claws were just too threatening. They paid great attention to the eyes—wanting his expression to convey compassion and caring in an almost human way. They envisioned a soft, plush, seamless surface texture. And the team added a extra sense of whimsy with fewer fingers, “simplified hands,” and a bouncy tail that floated and bobbed above the ground.
After many consultations and collaborations between Irene Corey and the creative staff, the iconic purple dinosaur was born! And he can still be seen—romping to the hearts and homes of adoring children, translated into many languages worldwide.