Sid and Marty Krofft

During the 1970's, brothers Sid and Marty Krofft produced many TV shows that I adored during my childhood and still adore today. The shows were all produced in the United States, however I find it interesting that there is a Canadian link to the Kroffts. According to Hal Erickson, author of the biographical book Sid and Marty Krofft: A Critical Study of Saturday Morning Children's Television, 1969-1993, the Krofft family is originally from Greece, but had moved to Montreal around the 1920s. As such, Sid and Marty Krofft were both raised in Montreal. Wikipedia goes a step further and states that the brothers were born in Montreal, which would make them Canadian citizens. In the 1950s they moved to the US to tour their marionette shows, and the rest is history.

Sid and Marty Krofft photo found at: http://www.zimbio.com/Sid+Krofft

I've been a fan of Sid and Marty Krofft since childhood. Whenever H.R. Pufnstuf came on, my brother and sister and I would to run to the TV to watch. This was in the mid 1970's when the show had already been cancelled and was playing only in reruns. I would sit right in front of the TV to see all the goofy characters up close. In my house Pufnstuf, Witchiepoo and Jimmy had a huge presence. We also watched the Krofft Superstar Hour that featured the Bay City Rollers!

Here's a photo that I find captures the essence of the HR Pufnstuf TV show!
The site I found it at has a lengthy article about the program with many other photos:

H.R. Pufnstuf, produced in 1969

Created by Sid and Marty Krofft, the H.R. Pufnstuf TV show premiered on NBC in Sept 1969 and ran for 17 episodes. The shows were re-broadcast numerous times throughout the 1970s moving to ABC in 1972, and gaining fans of all ages. However Pufnstuf wasn't the only star. Who can forget the awesome Billy Hayes as the comical villain Witchiepoo, and her bumbling henchmen: Orson Vulture, Seymour Spider and Stupid Bat!

There's also Jimmy, performed by 16 year old Jack Wild with a remarkable talent for dancing and singing. The year before H.R. Pufnstuf was produced, Sid Krofft had seen Jack Wild as the Artful Dodger in the musical film Oliver and decided to cast him in the part of Jimmy. My favourite song from the TV series is "How Lucky I Am" from episode two. There is also an episode in which Jack Wild as Jimmy wears a costume similar to his Artful Dodger character.

Jimmy's pal Freddy Flute and other puppet characters make the program even more enjoyable. H.R. Pufnstuf is an imaginative TV series that I'll always enjoy. Thank you Sid and Marty Krofft for making this awesome program!!!

Witchiepoo and Orson the Vulture

Here is a link to Billy Hayes' website showing several photographs from HR Pufnstuf and other Krofft programs. You can order photo prints directly from the website, and Billy Hayes signs each one! How awesome is that! http://www.billiehayes.com/photos.html

Here is the HR Pufnstuf bobble head that came with the DVD set. It's made by Funko in 2003. Below is a back view showing Pufnstuf's tail. A variation of this Pufnstuf bobble head was also made. It has a green body instead of dark orange, and a purple nose, and was sold in a boxed set with a Witchiepoo bobble head.


In 2000 the company Living Toys produced a series of action figures based on Sid and Marty Krofft TV shows. Above is the figure of H.R. Pufntuf as the Mayor of Living Island (this is the only figure I took out of the package!). A figure of H.R. Pufntuf as President was also made along with the bumbling policemen Cling and Clang as a two-pack set. The other two figures in the series are from other Krofft TV Shows: Electra Woman and Sigmund the Sea Monster. Below is the back view.
 



This is the package for H.R. Pufnstuf. Below are the Cling & Clang action figures, each one has a fabric jacket.

 


This is the figure of H.R. Pufnstuf as President. This variation of Pufnstuf wasn't shown on the back of the card packaging. Below is the Electra Woman figure which comes with a fabric cape.



Last is the lovable little Sigmund the Sea Monster with his pet lobster. This is the heaviest figure in the set. I've included a closer look at the Sigmund figure below.
 
 
 The back of the card for all the figures is the same.
 
This is a really well made series of figures. It's too bad they didn't make figures of Witchiepoo and Jimmy to compliment the H.R. Pufnstuf set. I also would have liked to see figures of Stupid Bat, Orson Vulture and Seymour Spider along with characters from various Krofft shows such as Hoo Doo, Mark, Big Foot, Wild Boy, Will, Holly and Rick Marshall, Cha-Ka, Enik, and a Sleestak. That would have been awesome!

"See you next week!"

Land of the Lost, produced in 1974 - 1976

When we were kids, my brother enjoyed Land of the Lost more than I did. That show freaked me out so I always left the room or turned the channel. I found the "drama" of being trapped in a world of dinosaurs was too frightening. When I was much older though, I became a huge fan of the program and am very happy to have the whole series on DVD. I especially like the slow moving Sleestak aliens!

In 2009 a special limited edition DVD set was sold with this awesome reproduction tin lunchbox. All three seasons were included, as shown below.

Land of the Lost, season 1 DVD set.

The main concept to this TV series is shown only in the opening credits. During a family camping trip Rick Marshall and his two kids, Will and Holly, are mysteriously transported to a world inhabited by aliens and Dinosaurs, where they must survive until they can find a way home. As is often the case working in television, it was unknown if the series would continue for a second season, so the final episode of season one concludes the key storyline in a clever way that would also let the series continue.
 
Land of the Lost, season 2 DVD set

Season two offers more mystery and stories that are as equally entertaining as season one. The Marshall's continue to have encounters with the Sleestak and stop-motion Dinosaurs!

Land of the Lost, season 3 DVD set

The last season is perhaps the weirdest. I have mixed feelings about it as a lot of the episodes throw off the story continuity and logic presented in the first two seasons. Still, they are fun episodes to watch.

This is Will Marshall, played by actor Wesley Eure. Isn't he a cutey!
I must confess to having a bit of a crush on Wesley.

Here's Enik and Will Marshall

There is an episode from Season 1 in which the Marshalls go swimming and find a secret passage way to the Sleestack's cave. Will Marshall (Wesley Eure), goes swimming in a pair of cut-off jean shorts. It's my favourite episode! :) I found these screen captures of Will in his jean shorts online. As the character is marooned in the Land of the Lost, this is the only time in season one that we see him wearing something other than his blue shirt and brown pants.
 
Here is issue number 8 of Starlog Magazine with a photo showing the making of Land of the Lost on the cover. This magazine was published in September 1977, a year after Land of the Lost had wrapped production and was seen on TV only in re-runs. This is an awesome article about Stop-Motion animation featuring Land of the Lost with excellent photos of the miniature sets in the studio during production. My favourite stop-motion creator, Ray Harryhausen, is also featured in the article (it was written a few years before he would make "Clash of the Titans" in 1980).

Here is my Sleestak Wacky Wobbler bobble head made by Funko in 2008! Below is the back view showing his tail!


Krofft Supershow, produced from 1976 - 1978

Here is issue No. 6 of the Krofft Supershow comic, published in 1979 by Western Publishing. This comic features Magic Mongo, Bigfoot and Wildboy, Kaptain Kool and the Kongs, and Wonderbug.

Donny and Marie / The Osmond Family Show, 12 inch and 10 inch dolls by Mattel, 1976 - 1978

Donny and Marie Osmond hosted a very popular TV show from 1976 to 1979. The first year or two of this show was produced by Sid and Marty Krofft. It was an instant hit which lead to Mattel producing 12 inch dolls of Donny and Marie in 1976, which were also extremely popular. Donny is shown above on the right in the purple outfit. I'm missing his shoes and microphone. I don't have the Marie doll. Jimmy Osmond joined the show later on in it's run. Mattel produced a 10 inch doll of the younger Osmond in 1978. I'm missing his microphone. Both dolls are wearing classic 70's disco style outfits! A TV studio playset was also produced as part of this doll series along with several fashions for the 12 inch dolls. The 10 inch Jimmy had to make due with what he was already wearing.

New Zoo Revue, 1972-1977

This was another children's TV show that I watched in the 1970's. According to the the book "Sid and Marty Krofft: A Critical Study of Saturday Morning Children's Television, 1969-1993" (shown below), the Krofft brothers didn't produce this program but they did make the costumes (or at least their company did). The characters on the show included Henrietta Hippo, Charlie the Owl and Freddie Frog. I have a large plush toy of Freddie which is shown below. It's about 15 inches tall from head to foot and was made in the 1970's.

As you can see, the doll has a light green felt "F" glued onto his shirt. The doll also has cardboard (or something) in the mouth to keep the shape. Although the eyes are all scratched this Freddie is in good shape for it's age, as they are quite rare to find. One time on e-bay I saw a variation of this doll that had the same fabric body but the head was plastic. Small bendy figures of the characters were also made. My sister used to have a pink Henrietta Hippo plush toy that she won at the exhibition, but that's long gone. It may not have been an official licensed toy though, as I recall Henrietta and Freddie specifically were quite popular in the mid 70s and there were many knock-off toys based on them.

Other Krofft Items

Sid and Marty Krofft's Saturday Morning Hits DVD
 
This is a great CD set for Krofft and Pufnstuf fans that was available in 2010. Sid and Marty Krofft's Saturday Morning Hits has a selection of episodes from several of the Krofft's best programs, including HR Pufnstuf, Bigfoot and Wildboy, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Lidsville, and several others. It's awesome!

Sid and Marty Krofft: A Critical Study of Saturday Morning Children's Television, 1969-1993, by Hal Erickson

This is an excellent book with tons of information about every single Krofft TV show you can think of. There are no photographs or images, but as a Krofft fan I found this to be a fun book to read and was amazed at the amount of research that went into this book. It was published in 1998.

McDonaldland Characters, debuted in 1971

Although Sid and Marty Krofft did not directly create the McDonaldland characters, I consider toys based on these characters as Krofft collectables. The entire concept for McDonaldland was an unauthorized imitation of the H.R. Pufnstuf TV series. (Ronald McDonald was the only original McDonald's character). Not only were the McDonaldland commercials produced without the Krofft's permission, but according to Hal Erickson, author of "Sid and Marty Krofft: A Critical Study of Saturday Morning Children's Television, 1969-1993", an advertising executive from the company that had created the first McDonaldland commercial had previously visited the Kroffts under the pretence that they were to form a business deal. In the end, the advertising executive only wanted to learn the tricks of the trade (how the costumes and puppetry were done) and then he cut the Kroffts out! As you would expect, the Krofft's took McDonald's to court for copyright infringement and by 1977 had won their case. Erickson states "Since that time, the Kroffts have regularly collected checks from McDonalds".


Unfortunately by the late 1970s the McDonaldland situation had diminished H.R.Pufnstuf's appeal to the general public. People were confused and unimpressed, believing that the Krofft's had used their children's characters to advertise fast food... even though the Krofft's had not done so! Strangely enough, several of the actors who had performed the Krofft characters on H.R. Pufnstuf also ended up performing the McDonald's characters for the McDonaldland commercials!

Setting aside the unpleasant history of how the McDonaldland characters came to be, and having grown up in the 1970s with these fast food commercials, I have always enjoyed these McDonald's characters. I'm especially a fan of Grimace. What the heck is Grimace? He's just a big purple blob!
 
In 1976 Remco produced a complete series of dolls based on McDonalds characters. Shown above is the 7.5 inch Ronald McDonald doll missing his costume, and the 6 inch Hamburglar doll missing the large brim for his hat.

The dolls have a lever on the back to make the head turn side to side. Hamburglar's lever comes through the back of his cape.

A small rag doll of Ronald was made in the 1970s and was very popular. I don't know who the manufacturer was. This doll measures 3 and 7/8 inches. I've shown it next to the 7.5 inch Remco Ronald doll for size comparison. Several large sized rag dolls were also made of Ronald, and at least one of Hamburglar.
 
Here is a closer view of the small rag doll. The back view is below.

 
Here are the plastic bag puppets that were very popular during the 1970s. These were given out free to customers as the "treat of the week", with a different character available each week. I found the above two puppets on e-bay years ago, while the Mayor McCheese puppet below is the original one I've had since the mid 1980s!

 
This is a ceramic piggy bank of Grimace from 1985. Just what every room needs. This is my favourite Grimace item from my collection!
 
This is the first complete set of friction cars sold through Mc Donald's restaurants in 1985.

This is the second complete set from 1988. Grimace replaced Birdie as the fourth character in the collection.
 
Here are a few random McDonalds figures. The First item is a Ronald McDonald pen lid that originally had a red pen with it, made in 1980. There were three other figural pens in the set: Grimace, Hamburglar and Big Mac. The next item is a PVC Grimace figure made in 2000 that looks like it originally came with a straw. The next PVC figure is Birdie from 1990, which originally came with a small pink tricycle. The last PVC figure is Grimace wearing a ball cap. There's no date or copyright info on the figure, it's just marked "Made in China". 
 
Here are some toys of the Happy Meal puppet characters. In each TV commercial they would say their slogan: "Hamburger, Soft Drink and Fries, all medium size!" The small train car toy is from 1994, and the plastic toy cup figure is from 1988. Both were sold at McDonald's restaurants.

Here are two drinking cups from McDonalds restaurants. The plastic one on the left is from 1996 and the cardboard one on the right is from 2000. I kept them because they featured Grimace!

I rotated the cups to show the complete image on them (shown above and below)

 
Here are some PVC figures of Hamburgler, Ronald, Grimace and Birdie, all made in 1995. Grimace is hollow plastic rather than a PVC figure. All four originally had a one piece plastic Halloween costume that attached on top of the figure.

Here is a large 12" plush toy of Grimace that I found at a thrift shop in the 1990s. There is no copyright date on the toy at all. I've found a Sears catalogue image on the Sears Canada webpage which confirms that this toy existed in 1988, so it may have been produced that year or the year before. In any case, with the Sears documentation, I think it's safe to say with certainty that this toy is from the mid 1980's. Here is a link to the page with the photo in question:
I find it funny that Grimace's mouth is made with hot pink fabric. No doubt the result of eating so much radioactive fast food! Grimace is wearing a jogging outfit, complete with sneakers, headphones and a headband, because eating fast food is so healthy and energizing that it makes you feel like jogging.
 
This plastic Grimace mug doesn't have a date or any copyright info.
The only markings say "Made in China".
 
Mac Tonight is a newer character. I believe he first appeared sometime in the 1990s to promote the restaurants being open late. This is a 2 inch square pin that staff wore. There's no date or copyright info on this item, the only markings say that it was made in Toronto.
 
This is a finger puppet of Ronald McDonald from 2003 that was sold as a fund raiser for Ronald McDonald House Charities. The doll is 6 inches tall with a plastic head, and came packaged in a small box shaped like a house. The arms of the doll are made to be controlled with your finger and thumb. Below is the back view.

 
In 2008, Huckleberry Toys produced this series of 8 inch McDonaldland dolls, which is based on the Remco McDonaldland dolls but they are not identical reissues. Shown above, L to R, is Captain Crook, Ronald McDonald, Hamburglar, Grimace, and  Mayor McCheese. The back of the box is the same for all five and is shown below. All of the characters are plastic dolls with removable cloth costumes with the exception of Grimace, which is a stuffed toy.
 
The back of the box also says "Look for series 2 coming soon" but a second series was never produced. I've seen pictures online that show prototypes for Bic Mac, Birdie (Early Bird), Professor and several Fries Kids which I assume would have been series 2. It's too bad they were never made as they looked well designed. I've also seen pictures online of all the series one dolls on card packaging, but I suspect these are also just prototype images or a collector's hand-made "customized packaging". It seems however that Huckleberry Toys did produce a carded "1971" version of Grimace with four hands as a limited edition of 500. There is also a 12 inch Grimace made in a limited edition of 300. Both of these limited edition Grimace items are stuffed toys.

Here's a look at the set out of the box.

Here's a comparison of the Remco Ronald and the Huckleberry Ronald. When placed side by side it's easy to see how different they are. Of course, one of the key differences is that the Huckleberry dolls do not have the lever on the back to control the heads, which the Remco dolls have.

Here's a comparison of the Remco Hamburglar and the Huckleberry Hamburglar. It looks like Huckleberry reused the same head but painted the eyes and mask differently. Huckleberry also made the tie out of fabric and sewed it all around the edge onto the costume, while Remco has a loose tie made of vinyl that is only attached at the top near the neck.
 

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Text and photos of collectables © Mike Artelle 2011, 2013

7 comments:

  1. I have the same freddy the frog but I cut off his tag :/ any idea who made him?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Amanda
      Mine has the tag cut off as well, so all the info I have about the Freddy plush toy is included above. He's a mystery to me! Hope you manage to find out more about him. All the best. -Mikey

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  2. my sister used to have a Ronald McDonald mug like that

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    Replies
    1. Hi Muppetmaster 314
      That pretty cool, thanks for letting me know. I've only ever seen Grimace in this style. Cheers -Mikey

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    2. Oh by the way Mike, what's your favorite Krofft show?

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