Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I'm A Grown Man And I Bought This: Herman Munster Talking Hand Puppet

The year is 1964. Ford unveils the first Mustang, a little game show called Jeopardy debuts on TV and an obscure "rock n' roll" group called the Rolling Stones releases their first album. Meanwhile over in the toy aisle, Mattel introduces a talking Herman Munster hand puppet, based of course on the TV show The Munsters.

There were two versions of the Herman puppet; one had lighter yellow-green skin, while the other had a much darker olive-green complexion. That's the darker version above. For some reason it photographs much lighter than it appears in person.

The Herman puppet had a state-of-the-art pull string record voice box inside it that when activated would say one of ten phrases:

1. Those late late movies are scary!
2. My father was such a friendly Munster.
3. I eat spinach for my complexion.
4. Let's go have a picnic in the graveyard.
5. I'm Herman Munster, how do you do?
6. I'm just a regular green-blooded American boy.
7. Hi there, I'm your new babysitter.
8. Cheer up! It's bound to get worse.
9. When I was a kid I was homely.
10. Oh you look nice, just like Mummy.

Supposedly some early versions of the puppet had a line about the then super mega-popular Beatles: "I like the Beatles. REAL beetles." The Fab Four apparently didn't cotton to the line and forced Mattel to change it.

There was also a doll version of Herman. Had the same vinyl head and hands, but came with legs and feet.

As you may have guessed by now I had one of these puppets when I was a wee lad. I was a huge fan of The Munsters as a kid (and still am) and asked for, nay demanded a Herman puppet for Xmas. I definitely remember having the light yellow green version and I vaguely remember him saying, "I'm Herman Munster, how do you do?" I don't remember hearing any of those other sayings though. It was just too long ago.

I do remember that I loved my Herman puppet though and carried it around constantly for years and even slept with it. We were inseparable.

Apparently at some point after I got my puppet I must have seen the doll version with legs. I'm betting I probably threw a big fit about the fact that mine was legless, because my mom actually made a pair of cloth legs and sewed them to the bottom of my Herman's torso!

Then as so often happens, one day I decided I was too old for toys (HA!) and got rid of Herman. Whether he was sold in a yard sale or donated to Goodwill, I can't remember. All I know is that I got rid of him like an idiot. No doubt as I neared my awkward teen years I was too embarrassed to have any of my childhood toys around.
 
Fast forward several decades to the present, where I continued to regret my bone-headed decision to get rid of my beloved Herman puppet.

For the past several years now I've been seeing vintage Herman puppets and flea markets and horror conventions. I've often thought about buying a replacement Herman to satisfy my nostalgic itch, but they were always pants-crappingly expensive.

A couple weeks ago KW Monster and I went to the Fright Night Film Fest in Louisville. Once again I saw a Herman puppet for sale, but, figuring it would once again be out of my financial reach, I didn't even inquire as to the price. KW asked the dealer how much it was though, mostly to shut me up about obsessing over the thing. Amazingly this time the price was more than right!

After walking around and debating the matter with myself for an hour or so, I finally took the plunge, went back and bought him. So it's official. I am now at that age where I'm rebuying all the stuff I had as a kid in a sad and desperate attempt to recapture my youth.

This Herman's in surprisingly good shape for a toy that's almost 50 years old. Sadly, his voice box no longer functions, but I can live with that. Besides, a working voice box would add have added a hundred bucks or more to the price. Maybe I can figure out a way to get it to work one of these days.

One small glitch- apparently my hand was a lot smaller when I was a child, as I can barely wedge my now adult sized mitt past the voice box and into Herman's head. Sloppy, 1964 Mattel toy engineers. Damn sloppy. The least you could have done was plan ahead for the day when adults would covet this toy more than the children toward which it was targeted.

In the meantime, I'm happy to have a little slice of my childhood back again. Things were better in the old days! The music today sounds like a bunch of noise! You kids get off my lawn!

3 comments:

  1. He's fantastic and I am glad you got a piece of your childhood back :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm wondering how much he cost back in 1964. I'm sure it was a LOT less than I paid for the replacement!

    ReplyDelete
  3. You can restore the voice. Check out www.mattelmrsbeasley.com

    ReplyDelete

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