In the early 80's my mother returned home from her symphony's European tour and she came bearing gifts.....
In 1979 Lego introduced its "Fabuland" line of legos, these legos were to become the go between from duplo to legos, they targeted girls and boys in a very specific age range. Fabuland characters were animals that had people bodies. The bodies looked very similar to the common modern lego man body but it was thicker and wider and the head was much larger, still able to stand and sit on real lego blocks. This was an awesome feature because they could be used with real lego sets and blocks, unlike the Duplo sets where you had to have ONLY Duplo stuff. Each animal had a specific name which was kind of cool, although there were several different kinds of cats, for example, they each had a different name. The one in a blue shirt that came with a fishing pole was called Cornelius, and we had him. My mother brought home the set of a panda and a monkey that came with a cart for them to ride in back in 1985.
I remember the monkey but we have no idea where he is to this day. I still have panda, old and worn out with his joints very loose, I always held a special place for this unique lego toy in my heart and back when I played with legos, Panda was always the old patriarch of my lego city. We had Elmer the elephant and Cornelius Cat and at one point I had Clover Cow but they weren't held in such high regard as the old European Panda.
The idea was to make a tv show and clothes and much more with Fabuland characters but it never happened and in 1989 they stopped making the Fabuland line. The only place to find Fabuland legos today is ebay. I think this was a great idea and a wonderful transition for kids to move from the big bulky Dulpo sets to the tiny detailed world of Legos. I know its probably what got me started into Legos, since I was only 3 when I received Perry Panda and Chester Chimp. (now i know the names thanks to http://www.fabuland.net/ )
Lego should really reconsider coming up with another Fabuland line or one like it to help get the younger kids into Legos, but that's a Lego lovers two cents.