Jul 26, 2013
Back in the seventies when I was a little nipper I lived in London. Just like every other kid on this great island nation, for the most part, I had three channels to choose from for all of my television watching. No one I knew had a VCR, cable was something unknown, so barring my imagination my choices were greatly limited. Now I live in the US it is always interesting to compare how similar/dissimilar offerings were back then on either side of the proverbial pond. More often than not the American shows that were popular in Britain were either huge in America, or they were nondescript B-list material. As a kid I didn’t care, TV, after all, was still TV.
One of the more second string shows that made it big in England was none other than Hong Kong Phooey, affectionately known as the “number one super guy”. Here he is in his full glory.
Penfold “Penry” (and not Henry as he is mistakenly called more often than not) Pooch was skillfully voiced by the late, great, Scatman Crothers. I couldn’t get enough of his silly antics and loved how Spot, his striped cat, always saved the day leaving our canine friend to take all the credit.
Believe it or not, the show initially only ran for one year in America, 1974, and had a total of just sixteen full episodes! That’s it. No wonder there are so few Hong Kong Phooey items out there. Luckily for me I recently scored a cool one to add to my collection.
At almost 18″ tall this plush item is pretty darn cool. This rag doll style toy was one I just chanced upon while cruising eBay and was completely unknown to me. I bid immediately, and as it turns out, I ended up being the sole bidder. Apparently just my buddy, and frequent commenter at ToyNerd, Gary and I have love for this classic canine martial artist. Such a shame.
I don’t know much about this toy, but I can tell it has seen better days. It clearly looks as though it was released back in the seventies and if I had to guess I would say it was homemade. You may remember back then, or perhaps not, people seemed a little more crafty. Moms would regularly knit sweaters, grandparents would make Halloween costumes instead of buying one at the store, you get my point. Anyway, toys like this were popular back then. You would buy what was basically a sheet of cotton material and on it were printed the pieces needed for the toy along with a set of simple instructions. From experience I know that they went something like this.
Step A. cut out the front and back panels of the character toy being made.
Step B. put them together, printed sides facing each other and pin together.
Step C. sew around the edge along the guide line provided. Be sure to leave a small gap at the bottom.
Step D. turn the fabric inside out so that the printed sides now face outwards.
Step E. insert stuffing in to the toy via the small gap in the seam that you left unstitched.
Step F. when filled to the desired plushiness close up the hole by finishing the seam.
Bingo, there you have it, a toy you built yourself. What a great rainy weekend project that could be done cheaply at home with minimal supervision by the parents.
These were easy to manufacture and characters appeared, and then disappeared, quickly depending on what was popular at the time. I own a cool Fonzie one as well as Mork from Ork, and I see McDonalds characters all the time at flea markets.
Value wise? No idea. I paid $10 for my Hong Kong Phooey and was thrilled.
A word to the wise, experience has shown me that if you get one that is grimy or stained (which is typically the case), hold off on immediately throwing it in the washing machine. Each one was usually filled with random, unidentified, left over stuffing. Once washed I have found they can become hard and lumpy. They will usually clean up just fine, and I can’t say I have ever experienced one bursting open from the physical force of the wash, so if you don’t care about losing the cuddly feeling then go for it. I usually stick with a surface clean only, the choice is yours.
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