I seem to recall reading (although I can't remember where or even if my recollection is accurate), that there was a feeling at Disney that Elmer would be "the next big thing" in an effort to broaden the line of recognizable characters. To my thinking, Elmer was the iconic Nerd of his time -- picked on by those at school, some who liked a girl that would never notice him.... You get the picture... in the same genre as "Ugly Better" or "Mean Girls" or one of a dozen coming-of-age films. While interesting, the Elmer Project never really developed any traction. But the characters were cute and I could certainly picture a line of plush toys....
In this first posting, here are items from the Ingeborg Willy Scrapbook...
Elmer Elephant Scrap
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From "Elmer Elephant" (1936). Pencil sketch of Elmer Elephant from the Ingeborg Willy Scrapbook.