Time Warp Toy Box: Week 3
Welcome back to our third installment of Time Warp Toy Box for Christmas 2007. This week we are showcasing some unusual presents from Christmas past. Every item featured this week came from a Christmas catalog so someone must have thought they would make good Christmas gifts!
Let’s start out with an item that qualifies for this column for multiple reasons – Bop Bags (or “Punch Me’s” as this violent ad likes to call them)! First off did anyone ever actually like these? Sure they were supposed to help kids work out their aggressions but wasn’t that really what younger brothers and sisters were for? Second, why would anyone want to hit Batman or Snoopy? Shouldn’t that be the Joker or Lucy on those bags? The King Kong bag actually has some pretty cool graphics and the Frankenstein one is a very rare item from the short lived Monster Squad Saturday morning television series (starring Fred “Senator Gopher” Grandy). Last but by no means least is John Travolta and his fellow Sweat Hogs on a Welcome Back Kotter bag. This is definitely the bag I would have enjoyed punching the most as a kid or even now but I don’t think it would last too long against a Louisville Slugger!
I don’t know about you but I would have run like hell the other way if Otis O’Brien had popped up under my tree one Christmas morning in the 70’s! Ventriloquist dummies are scary enough on a good day but this guy looks like a close relative to Chucky from the Child’s Play films! Even the less flamboyant dummies in this ad like Charlie McCarthy and Danny O’Day (who looks like he just got flashed) are still a little creepy. No doubt about it, as soon as I got done with Barbarino, Otis O’Brian would be next in line for the bat!
They say you’re never too young to start training for a career and back in the 70’s Pizza Hut tried to get the jump on future candidates for minimum wage restaurant positions with these toys. Slower children who couldn’t master the instructions for the training oven could still find gainful employment at the take out window, provided they could distract impatient customers with a puppet show! I had almost forgotten about the stereotypical Italian waiter character Pizza Hut used to use in its advertisements! Mama Mia!
Now here is an unusual toy that would be a perfect gift for most Fanboys and aspiring makeup artists. Hugo combined a hand puppet with a disguise kit and gave kids a doll they could make into all sorts of characters. This toy was actually designed by makeup artist, screenwriter, and all around horror icon Alan Ormsby, who just a couple of years prior had given us Death Dream, Deranged, and Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things! According to Ormsby, Hugo started life as a practice dummy for training makeup artists and ended up a child’s toy (after they swapped out the spirit gum for a washable glue stick). There must have been a lot of kids like me who wanted these for Christmas and never got them because Hugo commands major bucks on eBay these days!
Our final item this week comes at the special request of one Andy Lalino, who remembers these puzzles fondly from his childhood but could not recall the name. The Creepy Creatures puzzle line came out in 1975 from HG Toys and featured rather generic looking versions of the classic Universal monsters. I had all four of these as a kid thanks to my mom and Toy King! The Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde puzzle was a major pain in my 10-year-old butt because the graphics were printed on both sides! Even though they tried to use a different color scheme for each side of the puzzle it still seemed like a lot of extra trouble to me!
Check back next week for a special anniversary and another installment of Time Warp Toy Box!