NEWHALL – The story of plush toy maker Dakin & Co. took another unusual twist Monday when closeout retailer Big Lots bought the rights to the imperiled brand and pledged to revive it. The retailer’s investment arm, Big Lots Capital, paid more than $835,000 for the brand, which dates back more than a half-century. Known as a high-end train and stuffed toy maker, the brand merged with Woodland Hills-based Applause LLC in the early 1990s, then fell on hard times when Applause encountered difficult financial straits in recent years. In the midst of a corporate turnaround last summer, Dakin’s fortunes foundered further when Applause’s charismatic owner and top executive Bob Solomon committed suicide. After emerging from more than a year of bankruptcy reorganization in October, its creditors’ committee elected to sell the brand to a better-capitalized operator and move on. “It’s a relief that it’s over,” said David Socha, Solomon’s nephew who served as interim general manager of the company during the bankruptcy. “It seems like a long time ago the tragedy happened, even though it was only over a year ago. It’s good for the family to put it behind them and not have any loose ends.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake After entering bankruptcy, the company sold the Applause brand name to toy maker Russ Berrie & Co. last October for $7.5 million. It renamed itself Dreamworld LLC, intending to use the Dakin name to market its Dream Pets stuffed characters. Facing a tough toy market and a debt load of more than $13 million, special counsel Gerard Casale Jr. said, the company had slimmed its work force to fewer than 10 employees and put itself up for sale. “Many of our creditors got fatigued,” Casale said. “The end of the year was coming, so they just wanted to see an end to it. It just seemed like the right time.” Whether the employees would stay on with Big Lots or lose their jobs had not been decided by Monday afternoon. Big Lots, which began its capital investment arm a year ago to revive distressed brands, intends to use the Dakin name to manufacture toys to sell in its own stores and to independent toy shops. In addition to Dream Pets, it now owns the rights to the Sad Sam and Honey and Lovies brands, though it’s entertaining offers by other manufacturers to take on the lines. “Dakin is synonymous with quality plush,” said Seth Marks, vice president of Big Lots Capital. “We think as we put a greater emphasis on quality in our stores, it’ll be a great fit.” Brent Hopkins, (818) 713-3738 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!