Kids' show characters are going small -- We look at this new trend, from James Bond Jr. to the Muppet Babies

By Frank Lovece
Updated May 29, 1992 at 04:00 AM EDT

Cars have shrunk to get more mileage, so why not heroes? From Young Indiana Jones and James Bond Jr. to the Muppet Babies, the Flintstone Kids, the Tiny Toons, and even Little Dracula, the trend is to downsize kids’ characters.

While some junior versions of popular figures have existed since Edgar Rice Burroughs’ ”young Tarzan” stories of 1916, more and more heroes are getting smaller and smaller. Why? ”You try to drag in a younger audience and increase your franchise,” says Mac B. Inc.’s John Parkinson, the exec in charge of James Bond Jr. ”Kids probably associate a little more closely with (junior versions) because they are that age themselves.”

But child-development author Penelope Leach (Your Growing Child) cautions, ”We have no actual reason to assume they are appealing more to children than do adult heroes. If children are looking for a hero or heroine figure, it seems to me they would require that figure to have adult skills, adult choices, adult competencies, adult wisdom. Something to look up to, literally.” In short, the new juniorization craze might really be just another case of adult small-mindedness.