Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Play With Huck

There seems to have been no end of merchandise for kids featuring the Hanna-Barbera cartoons, and it wasn’t just put on store shelves for Christmas. To the right, you see a newspaper ad from August 1960. The U.S government copyright catalogue states the playbook was copyrighted on June 28, 1960 while a similar Yogi book was copyrighted August 16. Whitman had a couple of other products that year. A Huckleberry Hound magic slate was copyrighted August 25 (it allowed kids to colour, wipe off and colour again), and there was a Quick Draw McGraw sticker book that was registered on May 13.

We’ve mentioned a number of times when the Huck show was first aired in 1958, the studio didn’t just use its stars in merchandise. It just didn’t have enough stars with only one show on the air. So that’s why you’ll notice in the ad that Li’l Tom Tom, Ziggy the crow and Iddy Biddy Buddy are advertised as if they’re on the same level of fame as Huck and Yogi. Well, Biddy later became Yakky Doodle (though in early publicity material, he was known as “Doodles Duck”).

In peering through the 1960 catalogue, there are a few other interesting items that are now memorabilia. Golden Press bought rights for some H-B products. A punch out book with Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy was copyright September 22. Pixie and Dixie had a stencil book (featuring Huckleberry Hound), copyright May 26. There were colouring books (one drawn by Harvey Eisenberg, another by Pete Alvarado, another by Chic Otterstrom) , comic books, Little Golden Books, a Huckleberry Hound stamp book and my particular favourite—the Quick Draw McGraw search game (for 2, 3 or 4 players), licensed by Milton Bradley and copyright February 27 (a little early for Christmas). And that’s just “books and pamphlets.” It doesn’t include dolls and other kinds of toys. All of which was no doubt designed with the idea that it could make people rich on eBay 50 years later.

By the way, the newspaper ad doesn’t tell anyone, but one of the cutouts is of everyone’s favourite cartoon dog. Yes, one that goes “Yowp! Yowp!” I’m afraid this was about the end of the line for poor Yowp as a Hanna-Barbera product, except in cartoon reruns.

Kids today weaned on every conceivable electronic thing they can wheedle out of their parents’ credit card might be puzzled by the attraction of a $1 playbook. All you do is push out the characters from the pages, slip the parts together and stand them up. That’s it. They stand there. They don’t do anything else. Well, in a way they do. They inspire a kid to use his/her imagination and make up their one little Hanna-Barbera cartoons on the spot as they play with the figures. $1 for imagination is a pretty good bargain.


  1. I am with you, Yowp! The gadgets may have gotten fancier and pricier, but the amount of enjoyment derived from those simpler toys and books was beyond measure. Kids today have so little imagination, because it is all done for them.

    I, too, remember those minor characters being presented in merchandising as if they were stars in their own right. (Well, perhaps Yowp should be allowed an extra measure of fame, huh?) I specifically remember encountering Yowp as part of a playing card set--and then later recognizing him when one of his Yogi appearances was run on TV. Yet, as a kid I accepted that if a character was important enough to appear in merchandising, then it didn't matter how many or few appearances he made in the actual cartoons--it obviously was a noteworthy character if it warranted its own appearance in a coloring book or punch-out book, card set, or whatever.

    1. "Kids today have so little imagination, because it is all done for them."

      And this is why I fear the future.

  2. Yowp, You are absolutely right. Hit the nail on the head. We did buy these punch out toys, put them together, and let them stand. .I would do my best Huck or Yogi impressions, use my imagination, and create new episodes that never existed. Those "original " episodes have long been shelved somewhere in the recesses of my mind, only to be brought back to life by this blog. Thanks for the memories.