Sunday, June 1, 2008

We Have Met The Detergent Premiums, And They Are Ours

In 1969, Walt Kelly, the creator of the Pogo Possum comic strip, together with animator Chuck Jones of Loony Tunes fame, produced the Pogo Special Birthday Special. To promote it, Walt Kelly himself sculpted six figures of his main characters, which were then offered in various brands of detergent, among them Biz.

My mother, always on a lookout for a bargain and toys for her brood, was over the months that they were available able to get us three characters: Pogo Possum, Churchy laFemme the turtle, and Howland Owl. This was supplemented by our Omi with a spare Pogo from her detergent, thus making up a character each for us four boys, as we were. We loved these toys because they actually looked like their characters (which was rare at the time), because we could switch their heads, and because they were so tough.

Not tough enough, alas. With the carelessness of youth we eventually lost Churchy's head and arms, and Howland first lost the tips of his feathery ears, then his arm, then the top of his head to a gnawing dog. Only Pogo, with his single point of articulation (the neck), survived intact, but one of them was lost to our Poppa's unsentimental cleaning outs.

It was always our ambition, since the first, to get a complete set. Eventually we got a Porkypine from a garage sale, but that was it for a long time. Then eBay came along, and suddenly much seemed possible. Prices ranged from reasonable to unreasonably high, and for a long time my natural caution and unfamiliarity with on-line bidding kept me a pining on-looker.

Just last week I saw a seller offering a complete set, and I went to my friend at Z's Toys and asked him to put in a bid for me. The opening bid was about $5, and I told him I was willing to go up to $60, with shipping. Then I sat back and nervously waited. On Friday I learned we had won. On Saturday I learned the toys were in. Just today I went in at 12:30, and the dream of thirty-nine years was fulfilled, for $46.

The full set is here: Pogo Possum, Albert the Alligator, Porkypine, Howland Owl, Churchy laFemme, and Beauregard Hound. A little aged here and there, a little loose in a joint or two, but then aren't we all since then?


AlanDP said...

Excellent title!

John O Khan said...