Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Collecting the Flintstones

Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera needed more cash to finance their growing cartoon studio than the money they were getting for the cartoons themselves. The solution? Merchandising. Soon, Hanna-Barbera started licensing all kinds of comic and colouring books, games and puzzles, toys and dolls. Fans of 1960 seemingly couldn’t get enough. There was so much produced, a book documenting it has been written by Tim Hollis. Read about it HERE.

That merchandise has become memorabilia and fans still can’t get enough. Hanna-Barbera collectors proudly share pictures of their prize possessions, and chat about them, on social media. How different were things way back in those pre-internet days (some of our younger readers may not be able to fathom such a time). One collector who looked to share his love of his collection with someone other than his wife told his story to the Alleghany Times on June 19, 1994.

Hopewell Township collector leaves no stone unturned in quest for Bedrock souvenirs

By Debra Utterback
Times Staff
Either you yabba-dabba-doo or you yabba-dabba-don’t.
Pete Pesut, Jr. yabba-dabba-does.
Loves the Flintstones, that is.
The Hopewell Township man goes pre-historic ape over the modern, Stone Age family. He collects just about anything related to Fred Flintstones and friends.
“I’m like a little kid back in my childhood,” says Pete, a 34-year-old postal carrier for the Aliquippa post office. “It’s a fun collection.”
Stuffed Fred dolls rest on the back of an easy chair in the corner of the basement of his Spring Street home. Ceramic Fred and Barney Rubble banks keep guard under the TV. Dozens of drinking glasses and juice jars bearing Flintstones faces clutter a table.
“This is my Bedrock basement,” says Pesut, who began his stash of Flintstones knickknacks about 10 years ago—long before the hype of the live-action movie with John Goodman thrust the cartoon family into the spotlight again.
The small basement is swarming with color. Hundreds of Freds, dressed in traditional orange-spotted tunics with bluish-green tied, take the form of dolls, banks, keychains and other toys in the room.
Likenesses of Wilma, Pebbles and the Rubbles—Barney, Betty and Bamm-Bamm—appear on beach towels, lunch boxes, and alarm clock and on the faces of more than a half dozen watches.
Pete also treasures his Flintstones dominoes, a Fred bowling game and blow-up punching bags. An inch-high Dino toy that rolls across the floor is the smallest souvenir. A 3-foot cardboard cutout of Fred is the largest.
Pete proudly shows off a smiling Dino Halloween costume made by his mother-in-law. To Pete, Dino is hot, Barney is not.
“I tell everyone there’s only one original purple dinosaur—that’s Dino,” he says.
The Flintstones fan credits his own Wilma—blond-haired Tricia—with helping him start his collection. He winces at the memory.
“I’ll show you the piece that started it all,” Pete says, lifting a small clothing hook bearing Fred’s picture. His wife gave him the hook, which sits in its original plastic wrap, as a joke because he always said Fred Flintstone was a favorite.
Tricia, a secretary at St. Titus School in Aliquippa, never realized the token would lead to a cartoon compulsion.
She never dreamed they would be dining repeatedly at Denny’s restaurant, Wendy’s and Pizza Hut, week after week when free Flintstoens toys were given away with meal purchases.
She never thought his obsession would almost cause them to miss a flight when he “just had to stop” in an airport shop before board a plane when he saw Flintstones squeeze bottles.
“Sometimes I think he’s 4 instead of 34,” Tricia says, smiling as she teases her husband. “He talks to me like Fred was a real person.”
To Pete, Fred is like part of the family. The Beaver County resident has been tuning into the syndicated Hanna-Barbera cartoon since shortly after it debuted in 1960.
“When I came home from school, I always watched ‘The Flintstones,’” says Pete, who attended Aliquippa grade school and later graduated in 1977 from Quigley Catholic High School in Economy.
He preferred “The Flintstones” over “The Jetsons” as a child. He, like hard-working Fred who toiled daily at the quarry, comes from a strong, blue-collar community. Fred is like Everyman.
“I’m a lot like Fred. I’m klutzy and lazy.”
But with good intentions, chimes in Tricia.
Unlike Fred, Pete is tall and slender. He doesn’t share Fred’s 5 o’clock shadow—he sports a mustache. The only resemblance to the Flintstones shows up on his clothes. Today he wears a white T-shirt with a happy Fred emblem and brightly colored sweat pants dotted with Flintstones characters.
“I constantly get kidded down at the post office about my Flintstone boxer shorts,” says Pete.
He also owns 50 Flintstones T-shirts, 15 neckties and numerous baseball caps. Add to that a Flintstones shaving kit. Plastic Flintstones dolls from Argentina. A 1962 Flintstones Viewnmaster disc. A Flintstones rock guitar. Even a Flintstones gelatin mold.
Pete has mixed feelings about the attention the new Flintstones movie is stirring. He and his wife haven’t seen the flick yet, but they are planning to go soon.
On the one hand, Pete is excited about the attention the Flintstones are getting. And he gives his nod to Goodman to play Fred. On the other hand, Pete isn’t interested in all the movie-related merchandise flooding stores.
“He was afraid it would devalue his collection,” Tricia says.
He usually collects only cartoon-related keepsakes he finds in magazines, stores, at toy conventions and flea markets. Friends and family contribute to the lot.
“I have things from the ’60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. I look for older stuff. I try to find unique things,” says Pete. “I’m always looking. Betty is the hardest one to find. So when I see a Betty, I have to have it.”
Since he considers his Flintstones collection just a fun hobby, he refuses to spend much money to purchase pieces.
Two things remain on his wish list: two Flintstones snow domes made in the ‘60s and ‘70s and a metal toy which features Fred operating a dinosaur crane.
Tricia insists on just one thing regarding her husband’s Flintstones mania: Bedrock stays in the basement. She’s made an exception for the small wooden cutout of Fred that waves “hi” and “bye” in the couple’s front yard.
She doesn’t want the Flintstones to overtake their lives. Like Wilma, she tries to keep her own Fred in line.
“I will draw the line. I will not name our firstborn Fred,” Tricia says.
Pete has met just a few folks like himself who love the ‘Stones. “I’ve been trying to find a Flintstones Fan Club,” he says.
His wife suggests a better organization.
“Flintstones Anonymous,” she says.


  1. "To Pete, Dino is hot, Barney is not."

    Whatcha talkin bout, Pete? I like both Dino and Barney...

    "'I tell everyone there’s only one original purple dinosaur—that’s Dino,' he says."

    Oh... THAT Barney. Yeah, that Barney is definitely "not hot." At first, I thought the piece was referring to Barney Rubble... :)

    "His wife suggests a better organization. 'Flintstones Anonymous,' she says."

    Ha, ha. That sounds just like something Wilma would say to Fred :)

    1. Dino's color scheme varied from episode to episode that first season - he's cobalt blue (with a lime-green muzzle!) in the opening and closing credits ("Rise and Shine" version), burgundy in "No Help Wanted", and violet in "The Snorkasaurus Hunter". I suppose purple would be a better match for tie-ins with Welch's products. ;)

    2. "I suppose purple would be a better match for tie-ins with Welch's products."

      You never know, could be... I never thought about that. :)

  2. On the Sticker Fun book, it's a little disquieting to see Pebbles so happily playing with Fred's decapitated head.

    1. Oops! Better get my grisly terminology correct. That should have been "disembodied head."