Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Play With Yowp

Want to make money from cartoon characters? You don’t do it with cartoons. You do it with merchandising. Walt Disney knew it. Walter Lantz knew it. Even Charlie Mintz knew it. And so did Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.

In 1958, the Huckleberry Hound Show became a TV fad. Huck, Yogi Bear, even Pixie, Dixie and Mr. Jinks were bankable characters with loads of licensing potential. But after that? Well....

The marketing people at H-B Enterprises and Screen Gems (and maybe Leo Burnett, the sponsor’s agency) needed more. About all they could was pick out secondary characters that may have had enough popularity (and screen time) to be marketable. Boo Boo was an obvious choice as he appeared in some, but not all, Yogi Bear cartoons that season. After that, it was down to wishes and hopes. Iggy and Ziggy, the crows that harassed Huck, were in two cartoons so they got a push. So was Li’l Tom Tom, the Indian boy; girls love child dolls. And then there was that little duck that came over from MGM and showed up in a pair of Yogi Bear cartoons. If Bill Hanna loved him, the rest of the world could, too. Even Cousin Tex appeared on merchandise, though his time on the screen was limited to one cartoon.

Naturally, I’m saving the best to last.

There were two cartoons in the 1958-59 season (and one in 1959-60) featuring a dog that went “yowp.” That was good enough for appearances in bits of merchandise—a gin rummy game, birthday table cloths and napkins, a Huckleberry Hound/Quick Draw McGraw lampshade, a Huck giant playbook by Whitman, a rubber stamp set, even wash-off tattoos. Not bad for a dog that can only say one word, eh?

Whether Keith Semmel reads this blog, I don’t know, but he found another way kids can play with Yowp at home. A company called Tower Press in Britain came out with a card set to play a variation of Old Maid. Huckleberry Hound “Booby” featured 18 pairs of cards plus two Booby cards (only one was used in the game so it wouldn’t match). Keith points out a fine individual has posted scans of the cards on line. The game was created in 1962 but it still has some minor characters that faded away (except for the annoying duck) as the studio created more and more stars.

Here’s Yogi ironing a shirt he doesn’t wear. There’s also one of the Booby cards.

Pixie and Dixie are playing cricket; ask your English friends what an over is. Huck is a London bobby (not booby) as he was in Piccadilly Dilly. Yakky Doodle was named Iddy Biddy Buddy in the first season of the Huck show before getting his own cartoons in 1961.

Some nice personas for Huck in this set. Wasn’t he a magician in one of those little cartoons between the cartoons?

The kangaroo is Kapow, who bested Jinksie in one solitary cartoon. Iggy is the crow with the straw hat, Ziggy is the other.

Cousin Tex, Li’l Tom-Tom, Jinks in formal wear and a red-eyed Yowp.

Times have changed. I’m not really certain what kids play today. I doubt it’s a two-or-more-person card game. For one thing, young people seem to spend a lot of time alone punching letters on a handheld. And cards are low-tech and, in an era where Donkey Kong is quaint and nostalgic, really old fashioned. But I’d like to think those of us approaching senior citizenship had good times with simple board games and cards, and that’s the main thing. I suspect Hanna, Barbera and Screen Gems were happy about it, too.


  1. Great entry Yowp. Never had any of these card games. Hey, even in this day and age of keyboards and pads, we still have made a point to bring up our sons since youth, on board games and cards at every holiday get together. Yes, they have all the high tech gear, but as adults, they also love playing " low tech " games. It was important to instill those things in their life.

  2. I have this card game, though I've never played it. As an employee of a store with a sizable toy section, I can attest that there are certainly plenty of card and board games on the shelves, and they must sell or they wouldn't be there. Not everybody seems to be on computers 100% of the time. (Me, it's more like 45% of the time. I don't own a cell phone.)

  3. Red-eyed Yowp obviously had been up late playing cards. Nice find.

  4. Personally endorsed by Bettin' Freddy.

  5. Hey Yowp - I am, in fact, a faithful follower of your blog. Thanks for the shout-out!

  6. I can't speak for today's kids, but these cards would have been a favorite of mine in the late 50's....