More Fun with hoops&yoyo and How They Help Keep One Military Family Connected

A few weeks back we shared an interview with hoops&yoyo, the irascible characters featured in a line of Hallmark eCards.  One of their greeting cards went into each Family Care Package, too!

Today we bring you an interview with the creative team behind hoops&yoyo.  But first, we have the firsthand account of how one military family – the Hendersons – uses these characters to stay in touch during Dad’s deployment.

Some thoughts from mom Kimberly: “So, regarding my pink and green buddies… where to START!

I happened across hoops&yoyo cards one day while picking up some things at Hallmark.  They SO cracked me up!  The kids and I then started buying the talking cards and sending them to Roger [her husband, who is currently deployed. -ed.], about once a week.  We quickly went through all the available cards at our local store!  Then, we found the e-cards, which are even more fun.  Those we send to his office email, so we hope they get everyone’s attention and bring them all a smile!

Riley and Kyle Henderson stand next to their favorite eCard characters...and show their support for our Troops! (USO Photo by Em Hall)

The kids really love these crazy characters.  When we got to meet them at the USO event, it took forever to wind them down afterwards! Kyle loves Yoyo and Riley’s favorite is Hoops.  The kids just think “They are SO FUNNY!”  They like the “Heellloooooooo!!!!!!  I miissssss yoooouuuuuuuu!!!!!!” card.  And, I must admit, we all LOVE the “Do you like Waffles?” song. [Be sure to check their website to hear the song. -ed.]

Roger has kept all the cards we’ve sent him, and he has them all lined up on the windowsill in his room, over in Korea.  He said that when he is having a long, rough day, he will see all those cards and they make him smile.  :)  What more could we ask for?  Other than having him home, of course, we look forward to all the smiles and seeing what next silly and crazy cards they come out with.”

Thanks for sharing, Henderson family!  Let’s hear what Bob Holt – the creator and designer behind hoops&yoyo (and provider of yoyo’s voice)- and Mike Adair  - co-conspirator and voice of hoops – have to say about the characters.

USO: Where did the idea for a comic duo of a bunny and a kitty come from?

Bob: Well, hoops (the pink one) came first. I was up against a tight deadline to make a 4th of July e-card animation. So I started with a little green bunny I had made at home, and he transformed into hoops. I realized later that hoops really needed a pal, so my original green bunny came back to life and became yoyo.

Mike: When Bob decided he needed to give hoops&yoyo voices, he asked me to join him. The rest is history. We have agreed to stay true to the spontaneity of these characters by recording fresh, fun audio with no scripts. We’re armed only with coffee, donuts, and an occasional diet soda.

USO: Kids and adults alike love hoops&yoyo, which makes them such a great way for folks to share things like e-cards and stay connected. How do you keep their appeal so cross-generational?

Bob: We talk about everyday things that pretty much anyone can relate to. And no matter what age you are, there are at least a couple things that everyone appreciates…like laughing and having fun. Our fans give us great feedback, too. We figure they’re our REAL bosses, so we’ll try our best to keep doing what they like!

Mike: Both Bob and I are long-time Hallmarkers, so our sensibilities to taste and appeal are well within the safe zone. Our fans trust us to not push the boundaries too far so everyone can enjoy it. Also, these guys have strong opinions on things that don’t really matter. Who doesn’t like that?

USO: We included a hoops&yoyo greeting card in every USO Family Care Package – did you ever imagine that these characters would travel to military bases in Afghanistan and Iraq and then find their way back to families in the States?

Local children enjoy hoops&yoyo plush toys.

Bob: What’s really nice is that we know these characters HAVE been to Afghanistan and Iraq! We have great friends serving in the military who have sent us e-mails and photos of themselves with the hoops&yoyo plushies while serving overseas in Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea, to name just a few. One of our favorites is a photo of a soldier handing out hoops&yoyo plushies to little children in Iraq. That is a real heartwarmer. It makes us realize how privileged we are to do what we do…thanks to those who serve.

Mike: I can’t imagine half the life these characters are having! They certainly get around, and I’m so proud that they (and we) can be involved in something like this.

USO: We love the “Manners: Sipping a Drink” video that you created and think it’s perfect for parents to show with their kids. Anything else on the website that’s a must-see for families?

Bob: It’s all must-see. Every single bit of it. Well, most of it. Can I get back to you?

Mike: All the Manners stuff is really popular, and the office humor found in The Studio series is fun. My personal favorite is an old Thanksgiving e-card we did where we sang songs while waiting for the food to arrive. Still cracks me up! And all the monthly homepages should be viewed daily.

USO: Thanks for your time; this has been a really fun interview. But one last question: We noticed that “Sergeant hoops” is giving yoyo a really hard time for St. Patrick’s Day! Can you give a sneak peek at any of their upcoming adventures, say, around Memorial Day or 4th of July?  Inquiring minds want to know!

Bob: Well, that’s actually a leprechaun who sounds a lot like Sergeant Hoops. I think they’re cousins. Can you imagine that family reunion? Let’s see, 4th of July…let’s just say there will probably be fireworks involved.

Mike: You’ll want to keep a sharp eye out for the “Ape”-ril homepage – I won’t tell you what it’s about. I like the idea of Sergeant Hoops making an appearance for the fourth. He really runs a tight holiday!

hoops&yoyo Show their Support for Military Families!

hoops&yoyo

If you saw yesterday’s photo essay on the launch of the Family Care Package from the USO, you probably noticed two very familiar, very colorful characters bouncing around – literally. Hallmark’s hoops&yoyo were in attendance!  And lucky for us they had some time to chat with the USO about the event, how they have fun, and their “awe” of military families…

USO: Why do you feel it’s important to support military families?

hoops&yoyo: Well, USO pals, it’s like this.  If it weren’t for military families, we would not have the FREEDOM to, say, go out anywhere we want for coffee, like, 16 times a day. Or the FREEDOM to run down to the local donut factory when we’re supposedly at a “meeting” for work. Did you catch the key word there, people? Listen up, now – chaaa, it’s about FREEDOM!!!! Those awesome peeps make sure we have it. And their families all give up A LOT while their loved ones are out there doing their super-important work. We have a pretty cushy life because of military fams. They’re all very extremely brave and courageous and generous, and we totally want to thank them a zillion times!  Starting now! Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you (you can talk amongst yourselves, this is gonna keep us busy awhile) thank you, thank you, thank you…

USO: How has this event today changed your perception of military families?

hoops&yoyo: We were already soooo in serious awe of military families. But ya know what? Now we are in super-supremely-SERIOUSLY-serious awe! They have to go months and months without dad or mom around to hug them and make them waffles and run through sprinklers with them. Then, when mom or dad come back, they’re sooooo happy and all of a sudden it’s waffles for breakfast every day and humongous hugs like, WHENEVER, and — awwww, doesn’t that make you wanna smile as big as you can??? Hey, military families, you are AWESOME!!! TOTAL SHOUT-OUT!!!!

hoops&yoyo (L and R) stand on either side of USO's President and CEO Sloan Gibson at the Family Care Package stuffing party, Feb 24, 2010. (USO Photo by Mike Theiler)

USO: What’s a fun thing for Mom or Dad to do with their children when a loved is deployed?

hoops&yoyo: Uhhhhh, hmmmm, maybe send that loved one a hoops&yoyo card??  Or e-card??? (Chaaaaa.) We can think of tons of other things, too! Like, maybe keep a scrapbook of all the things you’re doing so you can show mom or dad when they come home. And make a list of totally fun things you’ll do together when they’re home. And write ‘em letters. And send ‘em videos. And send more hoops&yoyo cards. And send a recording of your voice. With a hoops&yoyo card. (See where we’re going with this? Wink, wink.)

USO: What’s your FAVORITE thing to do when you’re hanging out with piddles, chillibear, marshy, and newbie?

hoops&yoyo: Ooooh, USO pals, we have soooo many favorite things to do!! Like eating pizza together and going out for ice cream and watching movies and eating tons of buttered popcorn and running through sprinklers and climbing trees and playing games and telling jokes and…and mostly, just doing any kind of stuff together. Hanging out TOGETHER is the funnest part of anything.

USO: If you had to choose one word to repeat over and over (and over!) to describe today, what would it be?

hoops&yoyo: That’s easy.  It would be superfantasticalamazingsweetawesomefunimportantniiiiiiceness!

Family Care Packages Will Keep Military Families Connected

Sloan Gibson - President and CEO of the USO - enjoys a light moment with employees of the Family Readiness Center at the DC Armory, Feb 24, 2010. (USO Photo by Mike Theiler)

Members of the DC National Guard prepare items for the Family Care Package stuffing party at the US Army National Guard Armory in Washington, DC, February 24, 2010. (USO Photo by Mike Theiler)

Volunteers preparing for the stuffing party enjoy the antics of hoops&yoyo, Feb 24, 2010. (USO Photo by Mike Theiler)

Dr. Jill Biden spoke in support of the program, then joined volunteers in assembling the care packages, which will be sent to National Guard families in Florida whose loved ones are deploying this month. (USO Photo by Mike Theiler)

A completed Family Care Package includes items to facilitate communication and make the time go faster during deployment. (USO Photo by Em Hall)

All hands were on deck to accomplish the goal of stuffing 3,000 Family Care Packages on Feb 24, 2010. (USO Photo by Em Hall)

Every Family Care Package included a journal for the family, with a special note on the inside cover from their loved one who's deployed. (USO Photo by Em Hall)

Hallmark stars hoops&yoyo were on hand to entertain this military family while Dad is deployed. They're shown with Jodi Schade, the VP of Hallmark Properties (back left) and USO's Sloan Gibson. (USO Photo by Mike Theiler)