Tuesday, October 17, 2006

50s-60s forms-fun toys, off model and wrong colors

Jessica Borutski just contributed this beautiful Jinks the Cat with black fur!


A major trend in character toys in the 60s was to make famous cartoon personalities that every kid knew exactly what they were supposed to look like in the wrong colors.This is a good thing. It helps kids' brains grow and gives them the idea that it's ok to be open to weirdness and fun.


Knickerbocker toys went further than anyone in the department of making the toy characters look different than the cartoon versions. Not only did they use the wrong colors, they sculpted the characters way off model and added lots of details that weren't in the cartoon designs.
Here Yogi has a flesh colored face and a yellow shirt with a red tie. Good.
Here's Yogi's delightful little underage green martian friend, Boo Boo.
Blabber, a grey mouse in the cartoon of course has to be purple as a toy. I love the attention to airbrushing and whisker stubble!
The highly detailed pie cut eyes and iris' really do it for me.
Whoa! 2 versions of Pixie and Dixie. The one on the left is Knickerbocker and is waaay off model and stubby. The one in the middle with the cheese I think is Mexican. It is only slightly off model but beautifully sculpted and completely the wrong colors. The mouse on the right is not from a cartoon, but she's hot and I figured the boys were lonely so I gave the 3 of them a wife which is legal in cartoons.
70s Yogis that by some weird fluke happen to be funny. And a killer alien Bugs Bunny!
Yes!!!




Fred coming out of a bag with tiny down syndrome eyes, and his friends.

43 comments:

Matthew said...

That was interesting. Thanks.

Do you think this was really a consciously thought out trend or do you think the manufacturers were taking advantage of the fact that a lot of people still had black and white tv and wouldn't know the difference if the toys were made using the wrong colours of paint and other materials? That way they could use whatever was cheap or already lying around.

Take your point about imagination though.

Cheerz!

M.Pheuz said...

the first yogi cracks me up, he's got such a funny look on his (apparently shaved) face

Anonymous said...

...That's just stupid.

When kids buy toys of their favorite cartoon characters, they want the character, not some weird off shoot version. This kind of thing only appeals to old creepy over obsessed toy collecter like yourself.

Bearuh said...

interesting to see how toys use to be... thats pretty cool that they made them different than they really looked in the cartoons! Where did you find ll of these?? Thats a big collection!!

Evan said...

in this day and age, it just seems unfathomable that a client would ever let you work off-model.

Dr. Strange-Q said...

Those are so hilarious! I'll be laughin' about that Yogi the rest of the day. Bought the Weird Al CD, loved the cartoon and the song. I thought it was the best song on the CD. Man, the rest of those cartoons...

Anonymous said...

That's what happens when toys aren't made in America!

John A said...

Since most of these cartoons were originally broadcast in black and white, I doubt H and B were really all that concerned about matching the characters' cel colors,I'm guessing they just wanted them to be "colorful". I think that as a character became better known,they put more emphasis on making it closer to the approved model. I remember that the Yogi Bear toys I had (from about 1965)were a lot more faithful regarding color and design.(not that I wouldn't have wanted some of these more wonky figures, there's something about them that automatically make you smile.)

Freckled Derelict said...

Yeah! I love these toys. I have a bunch of classic off model toys and I love them!

jessicaLynn said...

POST JINKS thats the prettiest KNICKERBOCKER face!!!!!

professor bosco said...

beautiful collection....
i love the detail on all those faces.
sigh...back when toys were toys...

Max Ward said...

Were these suppose to be intentional?

Vanoni! said...

in this day and age, it just seems unfathomable that a client would ever let you work off-model.

I don't know, Evan -
this looks pretty off model to me

I think the better question is could you get a company to manufacture a toy that cost them more than .003¢ per piece.

- Corbett

Shawn said...

I always sort of liked how the colors were different on all the characters, but I never knew why they did that. A lot of old Huckleberry Hound toys are red instead of blue.

I remember seeing a Bugs Bunny doll in your toy collection with a really cool looking plastic face, and parts of his body and behind his ears had floral designs on it, as if he was made out of an old table cloth or something. Kind of weird, but creatively inspiring!

Thunderrobot(aka Chet) said...

I dont like the messed up colors.

JohnK said...

Thank God for Chet.

Lori said...

These are great! My eyes almost got as big as Baba Looey while looking at 'em. So, when can I come over and stare in amazement at your toy collection?

jamie said...

as a kid I always thought that the toys were off color/weird looking because the company manufactoring them couldnt get the rights to the actual characters...so they tweaked them to avoid copyright.
I also didnt believe in santa claus and enlightened any of my friends who would listen.
I was a pretty cynical little shit.

Art F. said...

that Alvin is freakin' COOL!!!

S.G.A said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
S.G.A said...

check out my stuff , my inspirato is old Knickerbocker and Rushton,

www.steveameysculpture.blogspot.com

cemenTIMental said...

Hehe amazing collection of mutations! ^_^

Jorge Garrido said...

John do you like those 60's sodomite Yogi & Snagglepuss toys where you wind them up and they walk together, butt to crotch? They're alwasy on Boomerang (moreso than teh actual cartoons!)

Marlo Meekins said...

HAAHAH My gut hurts from laughing.


A lot of people don't understand that these old toys are supposed to look silly and weird on purpose. A lot of kids would think these are creepy toys, but the weirdness in them makes them hilarious, retarded and so much fun.

spid3r said...

"Fred coming out of a bag with tiny down syndrome eyes"

Is the funniest thing ive ever seen.

Tom Dougherty said...

For some reason, I especially hate the way all of the licensed shit today has been perfectly color matched so that all of the colors are exactly on model. That pisses me off almost more that the designs.

We live in the age of crap.

Brandon F. said...

This is a response to this post and the one before it...
I agree with your hatered of modern toys (and pretty much everything else), but the reasoning I don't agree with. I think it all started in the mid1930's when mass media took over and individuality and imagination were destroyed by corporations (like disney) who started telling us what we should like and buy. Different things took longer to die, music went first, toys finally died in the late 50's. You're not looking past american pop culture. Before mass media took over humans were not bound by rules like cost and market. Just look at any tribal art or folk art from anywhere, or kids art before they get to beaten down. I have dozens of books full of photos of tribal carvings and kachina dolls that are just as cool looking as old toys. Humans have been beaten down so much in the last 80 years that imagination, weirdness and individuality is alien to them. So they just blindly buy the new eminem album or go see the next disney movie or whatever's hip, they don't know anything else.
That's the best I can explain it...

Anonymous said...

Fred coming out of bag! Haw
Vincent

Anonymous said...

Fred coming out of bag! Haw
Vincent

C. A. M. Thompson said...

This post made me laugh out loud, thanks, John.

I also really love Mexican piñata versions of cartoon characters. Half the fun is trying to figure out who it's supposed to be.

David DeGrand said...

Hey John, awesome post! Really makes me wish toy companies gave a shit like they used to. Check out these awesome Hanna-Barbera toys:

http://davedegrand.blogspot.com/

Vanoni! said...

I also really love Mexican piñata versions of cartoon characters.

HA! Yes!
I grew up near Mexico and I also loved the plaster cast banks I was constantly given as a kid. I had forgotten about them. They looked a lot like these toys John's posting.
I was constantly thinking, "It looks like Elroy Jetson. . .but he's been in a fiery car accident and seems to be wearing someone else's clothes!"

- Corbett

I don't really care said...

I always assumed those were unlicensed knock-offs trying to get around copyrights.

Anonymous said...

I agree with "I don't care"'s assessment. Many of these were non licensed knockoffs, "off model" so that they could not be sued for infringing on a trademark. Often, they were the quick reworking of a pre-existing mold (Charlie Weaver Battery Powered Bartenders, and many mexican marionettes come to mind.

It is just that the trademark police are much more prevalent these days. 40-50 years ago, these toys were often 'approved' or allowed by the trademark holders, they just were a lot more lax at what was allowed to market.

It seems like I may have seen a Ren doll that looked an awful lot like a reworked floppy ET doll (rather formless) but I think I am inventing a memory. I seem to recall more than one expression being available on Ren and Stimpy dolls, which kept me from buying, if only the goofy expression I liked more/less was available/unavailable. Choice kept me from making the plunge.

the plummer said...

that alvin one is genious.

Vanoni! said...

I should mention for clarity that those plaster banks (and most of those piñatas) were definitely not licensed. :)

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

HawHawHawHawHawHaw!!!!!!!

stupiddemon said...

Creativity in toys is not dead jest hard to find. Most action figures companies do wired off colors toys normally called repaints. Yhay some of this has to do with not wanting to pay for another sculpt of a toy but some of it is really awesome and often better the on color ones. Look at this awesome venom http://www.toybiz.com/showassort.htm?id=72725
The whole Spiderman line right now is keen
I have been buying up most of the guys when I see them

As for off models look at this
http://www.toybiz.com/showbrand.htm?id=30

there are other odd pockets of resistance. The five to six dollar transformers that are never in the show of witch beast machines Vehicons are good examples. One of witch had a small web community devoted to finding new “modes” for it. The McFarlane spawn series 9- 19
http://www.spawn.com/toys/series.aspx?series=35
There was at least one repaint for each of these guys. Not one of them ever showed up in any of the comic books. The horrid is my favorite.
http://www.spawn.com/toys/series.aspx?series=39
These ones are jest cyber animals.
Though now they seem to all be making statues anymore. And in imposable to open packaging no less.

Now granted none of them are cute but that dose not mean there are not cute toys
http://www.toybiz.com/showassort.htm?id=70253
http://www.toybiz.com/showassort.htm?id=70252
Give the hulk a hug
http://www.toybiz.com/showbrand.htm?id=15
gave my sister the captain America and I can say there is a lot of form and personality
http://www.fisher-price.com/fp.aspx?st=2726&e=dinolanding
http://www.fisher-price.com/fp.aspx?st=2721&e=thumbnail&pcat=Imaginext_Adven_Access
cute and cool the dinos are the best ones since the first Jurassic park toys( the rubber dinos not the crap humans). Both menacing and adorable at the same time

Truth, form, and cuteness do still exist. you jest need to keep out a open eye and stay the course.

miles said...

oh hell yeah - i love that i can see all of this without having to join you on 10000000 swapmeet jaunts while we both dig knee deep in hipboots with snowshovels through old stinky shit to find the one good example of these toys left in existence today - and on ebay you get ramrodded - not cool - thanks for sharing some real toys as opposed to the BS that the "LOWBROW" scene offers - what do they know from robots?

georgeborrow said...

Rather than blaming the hippies, maybe one should blame the pharmaceutical industry for doping people up and dulling their basic aesthetic sense. Yes, I know that only 1:10 Americans are using anti-depressants at any given moment, but humans are herd animals, and just as the creative spark no longer flies from those people into the general population, their tedious, smug efficiency is now poisoning everyone else as well.

thedarkredblog said...

Those are great. I'd love to get a tweety, or the ant hill mob. Yeah!

artee15 said...

Hey John.. My name is Art V. I color The Simpsons Comics. I liked your Blog.. Cool Stuff Man! A friend told me I should check out your blog because it had some cool coloring pointers.. While coloring The Simpsons Comics, I have run into a few unique problems. One being that The Simpsons are drawn in a flat 2 dimensional.. So I have to keep in mind things like atmospheric perspective to create depth. Also a lot of the things I color have specific colors I can't change, so I have to compliment the backgrounds to the characters. Thanks for speading the wisdom and for giving some people a better idea of how difficult it is to "correctly" color something like a comic book day in and day out and do it to the standards of a picky fanbase. Color Theory is one of my favorite subjects.. Thanks for Blogging about it!

freqazoidiac said...

I love these pictures, and your comments are tres funny. I have a super little plastic figure.. not sure what era, that I will post the link for in this comment, that may make you smile. My sister gave this to me 10 years ago. I added the headband.. came Naked, as was found at some Goodwill.

This is the link to pics I posted on my Blogger page

http://freqazoidiac.blogspot.com/2007/12/along-for-ride.html