Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Wanna Buy a Huck?

There was, and I suppose still is, more to cartoons on TV than just watching them. Many kids wanted to carry on with their enjoyment of their favourite characters after the set was turned off. And cartoon studios were ready for you. And hoped your parents’ bank accounts were, too.

Games and toys were all part of a cartoon studio’s bottom-line. The more successful characters a studio had, the more chances for successful merchandising. And marketing stuff to kids was a huge aspect of cartoondom; in reality, it went back to the silent days of the 1920s when mom could get you a stuffed Felix the Cat doll. In the ‘30s, Walt Disney started taking advantage of merchandising. And in the TV era, so did Hanna-Barbera.

Daily Variety crunches the numbers about licensed products in this article from August 13, 1962. Mention is made of Marx’s Rosey toy. Marx signed a licensing deal and then apparently complained that it was making a huge investment only to discover Rosey wasn’t going to be a regular character. My guess is she was included in the end credit animation to placate Marx.

The story also talks about the studio’s budget for the coming season and plans to leave the cinder block bunker studio at 3501 Cahuenga for larger and far nicer digs down the street.

By the way, if my parents had ever bought me one of those Huckleberry Hound or Mr. Jinks dolls that Knickerbocker put out in 1959, I’d probably have asked them “Who’s that?”

Hanna-Barbera's Huge Merchandising Bonanza
Merchandising, a handsome money-in-the-bank offshoot of vidpix, continues to flourish for those series which have caught on with the public, and makes millionaires out of producers.
Latest illustration of the fancy dividends from the merchandising end is Hanna-Barbera Productions, which reports merchandising from its various cartoon characters grossed $39,000,000 past fiscal year.
The H-B cut for licensing is 6%, and this is split with Screen Gems, which distribs the H-B series. The take thus will be $1,950,000 for H-B and as much for Screen Gems. Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, partners in the animation telefilmery, say that Eddie Justin, head of merchandising for SG, estimates the gross on their merchandising will hit $50,000,000 in 1963.
What manner of merchandise triggers such huge sales? Well, it ranges over quite a spectrum, including a Flintstones pool toy, a Huckleberry bath salts, Flintstones pajamas, Huckleberry sheets, pillowcases and drapes, pencil cups, Yogi Bear and Flintstones comic strips syndicated by McNaught in 238 newspapers, with the Flintstones also seen abroad. Over 60,000,000 comic and coloring books have been sold, over a million records.
In Sweden, an enterprising candy manufacturer put out a Flintstones candy—rock candy, of course—and reported he sold 1,000,000 boxes the first day it was on the market. This year's royalty cut from merchandising is a record for H-B, topping the previous fiscal year considerably. In fiscal year ended June 1, 1961, their products merchandise grossed $22,000,000 which brought home a royalty pie of $1,100,000. If the SG estimate on the next fiscal year proves correct, the royalty dessert will add up to $2,500,000.
The partners have issued over 700 licenses for various venders of their animated by-product. Strongest of the characters merchandisewise were The Flintstones and Yogi Bear, they report.
As a rule, merchandising doesn't get underway until a series is on the air and a proven success—for obvious reasons—but on H-B's upcoming "The Jetsons," which bows this fall, a merchandising deal has already been made with toy manufacturer Louis Marx for a Jetson character, the maid, called "Rosey The Robot." Other Jetson characters are now being licensed also.
In addition to their record take from merchandising, the Hanna-Barbera team is shelling out a record $8,500,000 for new product for the coming season. The breakdown goes like this: $2,000,000 for 26 "The Flintstones"; $2,000,000 for 24 "The Jetsons"; $1,900,000 for 156 syndicated five-min. cartoons on three series, "Lippy The Lion And Hardy Har-Har"; Touche Turtle And Dum-Dum" and "Wally Gator"; $140,000 for 12 "Loopy De Loop" cartoons for theatrical release via Columbia; $900,000 on commercials for their shows; $1,200,000 for a Yogi Bear feature for Columbia, to be released in June of 190%. Not included in this tabulation is a "Flintstones" feature planned for Columbia in June of 1964.
Hanna and Barbera said they expect additional orders on "Huckleberry," "Yogi" and "Quick Draw McGraw" this fall, but even without these the production coin outlay is of record proportions.
H&B's "Top Cat" series, which was on ABC-TV for only one season, will be seen on that web next season, on daytime, in reruns.
H&B, because of their expanding operations, are going to construct a new building, one with 38,000 square feet. Near the present site, the structure will cost $1,100,000. It will be ready by Jan. 1.
Expansion is the capper on a Hollywood success story not too often seen these days. Neither partner is a novice — each is 52 — and when they headed MGM's animation department they created the "Tom And Jerry" theatrical shorts series while there. In 1957 they exited MGM to go it on their own.
Renting space at the old Chaplin studios, they spent three years there but began to build so rapidly they had offices in four different locations as well as the studio, before leaving for site between Hollywood and San Fernando Valley.
But they're still growing, and are headquartered in nine separate buildings; hence the decision to construct one which will encompass all their activities. High production costs killed the once-prosperous field of theatrical cartoons, and for their upcoming theatrical product, H-B "have geared the cartoons to the present economy," they say.


  1. In the photo of the dolls, Yogi is missing his hat. I have the Huck and Yogi dolls. Huck is a fairly new edition to my collection, while I’ve had Yogi since I was a little boy.

  2. I never had any of the Knickerbocker dolls though I looked at them for hours in '59 and '60. I don't know exactly why I wanted them, since, as you say, they don't much resemble the characters--but I know that they were in every Christmas catalgue--Sears, Ward's, et al.--as the only figural representations of my favorite cartoon characters. There were also Quick Draw, Baba, Snuffles (!), Snoop, Blab, Augie, Doggie Daddy, Loopy, Fred, Barney, Dino and Baby Puss, as well as a Cindy Bear in her blue period, all with those vinyl faces and plush bodies, and weird pie-cut eyes with eyelashes that made them all look feminine. No Pixie and Dixie in the series, I guess because they were of a different scale than the others. Alternative three-dimensional figures didn't exist before Marx did their Tinykins a year or two later (which I never saw), but even in '59-'60 I was bothered that I'd never be able to afford (to ask for) all the characters at $4.95 each (yikes!), and if I couldn't have them all, I didn't want any. Such is the thought process of a seven-year-old H-B fan.

  3. Huckleberry Hound "bath salts".

    No comment.

  4. my kids also wanted Wanna Buy a Huck thank for told about buy huck r not i want same your this article on this site ( THE CAT CONCERTO TOM AND JERRY )

  5. If Rankin/Bass productions was jealous of Hanna-Barber's success i would not be surprised.