Tuesday, April 14, 2009

An Odd Memory, Peculiarly Revived

I was trolling through Entertainment Earth, looking for new treasures to fixate on, when what to my wondering eyes should appear but Captain Crook. And along with him came a bizarre flood of memories. But let me digress a bit.

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I have a warm and brightly colored fondness for the show H. R. Pufnstuf. Because of the popularity of this show, the McDonalds company, when they were transitioning from a mere drive-in to a sit-down restaurant as well and needed to come up with a new marketing ploy, decided to pick the brains of the show's developers, Sid and Marty Krofft. They consulted a while, dismissed the Kroffts, and soon thereafter came out with the concept of McDonaldland, a suspiciously Living-Islandesque land with milkshake volcanoes, apple pie trees, and french fry bushes. Besides Ronald McDonald it was people by various living foods and the villains who sought to take them, as Witchiepoo tried to nab Freddie the Flute. Put Mayor McCheese next to Mayor Pufnstuf, and you have to ask, "Separated At Birth?"

The Kroffts promptly sued them, and after a legal struggle lasting twelve years, they finally won. As a result "McDonaldland" was phased out of marketing, and its' remaining characters re-tooled into softer images. The "Evil Grimace", who sought to steal milkshakes, lost two of his original four arms, and was downgraded into a lovable doofus. The Hamburglar had a cosmetic make-over, and Captain Crook, who craved fish fillets, disappeared entirely.

Years ago there was a McDonaldland playset, peopled with Mego-like dolls of Ronald, Grimace, Hamburglar, Mayor McCheese, Captain Crook, and the Professor (remember him?). Now Huckleberry Toys has re-issued five of these (sans Professor--surely a Dr. Blinkie clone). All available from Entertainment Earth.

Very weird to see Captain Crooks' glassy eyes and droopy moustache again.

1 comment:

John said...

I don't remember the Professor, but I had completely forgotten about Captain Crook until that picture brought him back in a Proustian Rush. How utterly bizarre to see him again. I thought that campaign was fun, and it only made it more painful as a kid to not have a local McDonalds. Now who gives a fig? Do you remember that weird Sesame Street playset we had that was made out of that kind of pillowy plastic enveloping cardboard? I always liked the idea of having a playset of some of these imaginary places, Mr. Rogers neighborhood was a particular dream. Strange to think on't...