Funko Posts

13 Advertising Spokes Characters Who Aren’t Just for Breakfast

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

We recently looked at collectibles connected to our favorite food mascots (cereal and otherwise), but there are lots of beloved Advertising Spokes Characters for non-edible markets, too.

The granddaddy of all spokes characters has to be Bibendum. You might know him as The Michelin Man (which is actually his official name in the U.S.). Even though he’s French, his name is a Latin approximation of “I drink nails.” Bib has been around since 1894 when tires were white or light gray.

bibendum pep boysAlso from the world of automotive service, Pep Boys decided they needed not one but three spokes brothers. Manny, Moe, and Jack have been around since 1921. They are based on the three company founders, who are not brothers and none of whom are named “Pep.”

A perfect example of target marketing, Bullseye the miniature bull terrier has been the spokes mutt for Target stores since 1999. There have been various stuffies and toys of this mutt, most of them presumably exclusive to those stores. 

bullseye geoffrey snoopyAnother famous store mascot hasn’t fared as well lately. Geoffrey the Giraffe was the spokes mammal for Toys “R” Us stores since their inception and was there til the end when the chain finally went belly up.

Snoopy is really just a cartoon character, but honestly, he’s probably as well known as a spokes pup for, well just about everything, including MetLife Insurance. He isn’t available as a true spokes collectible, but he is represented in countless toys, possibly more than any other comics character in history.

 

reddy kilowatt naugaElectricity shouldn’t be a hard thing to sell. You kind of need it for all sorts of things all day. But in the 1920s, electricity was still not the dominant source of power in U.S. homes, especially in rural areas. In fact, a lot of farmers were downright skeptical of it. Enter Reddy Kilowatt, the “electric utility ambassador.” Fun fact: By the 1970s, Reddy changed his message to one of energy conservation, not consumption. Another fun fact: He was once a member of the Grateful Dead. No, really!

Fake leather shouldn’t be a hard sell, either, but Naugahyde brought out Nauga, a spokes monster made of that very substance. His legacy has endured longer than the material has, and it was pretty indestructible.

alfred e neuman bazooka joeSeveral magazines have had spokes characters from “Cracked” (Sylvester P. Smyth) to “The New Yorker” (Eustace Tilly), but none reigned as supremely stupid as Alfred E. Neuman, spokes idiot for “MAD.” Sadly, “MAD”
is ending its print run soon, perhaps allowing Alfred to really focus on his next bid for the Presidency (one of these years, he has to win, right?)

Gum isn’t food, is it? I mean, you shouldn’t eat it. Did you know that’s how Bazooka Joe ended up losing his eye? Sadly, they never really explain it in the comics printed inside the wrappers. And they don’t ever clarify whether he actually owns a bazooka.

Joe Camel tagamet tommyMedicine isn’t food either, is it? Alka Seltzer is kind of the antidote for food if you think about it. In addition to a memorable jingle and soothing action shots of tablets fizzing, the brand had its own spokes guy, Speedy.

Cigarettes are definitely not food, right? And certainly not for kids. Never mind the Flintstones shilling Winston cigarettes in TV commercials in the early ’60s. Of course, the most egregious spokes dromedary was Joe Camel, who swears he wasn’t trying to lure kids to the cool, rebellious life. The backlash against Joe was so severe that not only were cuddly characters banned for tobacco marketing, pretty much all cigarette advertising and sports sponsorships were forbidden.

The greatest spokes organ of all time has to be the Tagamet Tommy. Yes, he’s an anthropomorphic stomach. Which begs so many questions, like does he have internal organs? We’re going to say “no.” 

Freddy FunkoOf course, a lot of the collectibles seen here are Funko products.  Their company spokes figure Freddy Funko has taken on a life of his own over the last twenty years. He started out as a large scale store display Wobbler, and has since appeared in more costumes than you can keep track of. A character created to sell figures of characters created to sell other things… no wonder King Freddy wears that crown.

What are your favorite non-food spokes characters and mascots? Let us know in the comments!

Introducing the ALL NEW Funko PROTOTYPES Database Powered by hobbyDB and NSNBS!

A guest post by Martin Morales.  Martin has been heavily researching protos and fakes since 2016. He is also the creator of No Scrappers, no B.S., a Funko prototype Facebook Community that helps make sure collectors stay in the know about everything protos.

Different from many toy makers, Funko gives their prototypes out to collectors, making them some of the most sought-after of Funko items. Referred to as “protos,” these rare items are given out at Fundays or social media giveaways. With Funko prototypes soaring in popularity, certain issues come up that aren’t something other toy companies have to deal with.

Funko Prototypes

Here are some of Martin’s protos!

Protecting Proto Collectors

Funko proto collectors follow a strict guideline also referred to as “doing the homework.” This entails tracing back the owners of the proto as far back as they can to get to Funko HQ (where they are distributed from). Since Funko distributes protos regularly, we do not accept factory rejects or scrap pieces taken from the factory as these would ruin the proto market.

Funko Prototypes

Courtesy of Helen Smith

Following this guideline allows us to stay afloat despite many efforts from China factory workers to sour the market with cheap, rough and oftentimes beat up scraps known in the community as “scrappers.”

All of these factors make it a bit difficult to become a new proto collector or navigate the proto market. If you are not careful and educated, you can get burned easily.

Tricera Ops production model and color prototype

Tricera Ops production model and color prototype owned by Gavin Ng

But then it’s worth it!

Two years ago, I started a Facebook community called No Scrappers, No B.S. The Community was built to research Funko prototypes and fakes, so we could help inform and protect proto collectors worldwide. We track and assemble albums based on releases and keep albums of scrap and mindstyle pieces. Over the years, the group has attracted the best of the best proto collectors around, including more than 15 Funko Hall of Fame members. We also now have a resource library with over 700 photos of legit pieces.

Funko Protos

 

Now we want to take our mission to the next level. To help further protect proto collectors far and wide, we’ve decided to partner up with hobbyDB (the world’s largest collectibles database) to bring you educational information on collecting as well as a database of legitimate Funko prototypes to assist you with your homework. You can see the all-new Funko Prototype database here.

Within the database, you’ll not only have the ability to research your protos, but you’ll also be able to add items to your digital collection and wish list. You’ll also discover the Collector Showcase page where you’ll be able to easily share and show off all of the awesome items in your collection.

Funko Prototypes Database

hobbyDB will also be powering a marketplace where you can sell your prototypes. This will be heavily vetted so you can have a safe and secure place to purchase Funko prototypes. The secured marketplace will also help us with lineage as the proto owners can be listed if they are members of hobbyDB. Pricing will be more accurate here as curators will focus ONLY on Funko prototypes with a team of highly skilled Curators.

The Funko Prototypes Database Price Guide to Come

As most proto sales happen behind closed doors, marketplaces such as eBay or hobbyDB are really the only places to get pricing on sold protos. However, different from hobbyDB, eBay doesn’t have the resources to keep up with shill bids or scrappers or other junk in the marketplace. Moving forward, we’ve decided to start with a clean slate or baseline price in the prototype database. These baseline prices come from the community who shared their purchases and pricing during the planning of this database. Other baseline prices will come from community auction groups. As people start selling on hobbyDB those prices will also be reflected in real-time.

The goal is to create a safe and secure database and marketplace for Funko Prototypes. hobbyDB is providing the platform and along with a team of Curators from NSNBS, will be looking at this as the future of buying and selling Funko Prototypes.

19 Food Mascots Who Want You to Join Them for Dinner, Snacks or Dessert

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Last week we looked back at some of our favorite cereal spokes characters from big bowlers like Cap’n Crunch to the soggy, forgotten ones like Quake. But there are more meals to the day than just breakfast, so let’s take a look at other Food Mascots from healthy veggies to fast food.

Back when Funko started in the late ’90s, their Wacky Wobblers were heavy on retro, even forgotten, food spokes characters. It was a fun dose of nostalgia, with some deep dives into long retired mascots who still could provide a smile to those who remembered.

big boy toysmcconalds bobblheads

Big Boy was the very first Wobbler, and he has since been immortalized with other figures. During the restaurant’s heyday, vinyl figures and banks representing Big Boy were widely distributed. Bonus fact: It’s fun to guess where someone is from by whether they identify him as Bob’s, Shoney’s, Frisch’s, Azar’s and so on.

Many other restaurants have mascots, but most are on the fast side of the food spectrum. McDonald’s began rolling out friends for Ronald McDonald in the late ’60s. If you’re someone who finds clowns terrifying, you should the original Hamburglar. Also Grimace used to be Evil and had extra arms. The entire cast of characters exploded to enormous size by the 1980s, and has been scaled way back since.

kfc halloween maskIt’s hard to conceive now, but at one time Col. Harlan Sanders was an actual person, not a character played by an ever rotating cast of comedic actors (and also recently by another spokes character, Chester Cheetah!). Burger King used to be a real person, too, possibly a deposed ruler of a far away country, but more likely an actor. Either way, the rubber headed king of the last decade or so has been repping the restaurant and possibly scaring kids since.

kool-aid manwyler's funny faceThe Kool-Aid Man started off as a face drawn in the sweat on the outside of a pitcher of ice cold powdered beverage (didn’t we all?). Eventually, he grew appendages and then an affinity for smashing through walls. Many figures and toys and replica pitchers have honored him over the years, but the best was the early ’80s Kool-Aid Man video game cartridge! Fun fact: Bugs Bunny drank the Kool-aid briefly, too! In the mid ’60s, Wyler’s tried their hand at the powdered juice game with Funny Face. Each flavor had its own distinct character, although they may have tried too hard. While some of them are available in collectible form, several were based on, umm, questionable stereotypes that have not aged well.

poppin fresh familyMany of you know the Pillsbury Dough Boy has a name: Poppin’ Fresh. But did you know he had a family of dough people? Joining him in the 1970s were a wife (or maybe girlfriend, they never specified… Poppie Fresh), a son (Popper), a baby daughter (Bun-Bun), and pets named Flapjack and Biscuit. There are also some older folks, presumably someone’s parents, as well as good ol’ Uncle Rollie. The main family and pets were available as figures and finger puppets for several years.

hostess spokes character toysIf you prefer your baked goods already well, baked… Twinkie the Kid was your guy. Why he dresses as a cowboy is anyone’s guess. There is also a chocolate version of the Twinkie the Kid, also named the same name. Less enduring, but worthy of the Funko treatment were King Ding Dong and Fruit Pie the Magician. Spider-Man and other heroes got in on the Hostess gig for a while as well.

j k simmoms m&mThe kings and queens of the anthropomorphic snack world have to the the M&Ms characters. Starting with just a few different colors, they have added on to the crew increasing diversity, and even an occasional cannibalism joke (well, what do you call it when one candy eats another of itself?) Fun fact: Actor J. K. Simmons has been the voice of the yellow M&M for over 20 years. No, seriously!

jolly green giant toyscalifornia raisins video gameSpokes characters aren’t always trying to lead consumers astray… the Jolly Green Giant seems genuinely interested in selling you healthy vegetables. And of course he had a sidekick… apparently despite the family resemblance, young Sprout was an “apprentice.” Theoretically, the California Raisins were doing the same service, but honestly, they sold a lot of merchandise and stimulated an interest in Motown hits more than they did for shriveled grapes.

noid toyOf course, we need to address perhaps the most annoying, reviled, and despised restaurant mascot of all time… The Noid. Even in the pre-Twitter rage era of the early 1990s, the reaction to this mascot for Domino’s Pizza was swift and unified in revulsion. He was meant to represent the bad, incompetency of “other” pizza chains, but the stink stuck to Domino’s nonetheless. So of course, Funko has honored the Noid with a Pop! figure. The Garbage Pail Kids also did a more fitting tribute.

Of course, many non-food companies have memorable (and sometimes forgotten) spokes characters… we’ll look at those soon, too.

Who’s your favorite food spokes character? Let us know, and if there are relevant toys and collectibles add them to our database.

hobbyDB Now an Official Funko App Marketplace Provider

hobbyDB is proud to announce that we are now an official marketplace provider for the Funko App.

PPG MarketplaceWe’ve partnered with Funko once again, this time opening up our extensive marketplace directly to your mobile device via the simple click of a button.

hobbyDB is home to thousands of sellers and tens of thousands of items from your favorite Funko franchises, characters and more. With such extensive inventory, 50% of all Funko items found in the App already have something listed for sale.

Conveniently go shopping via any item page on the Funko app by locating the hobbyDB “Shop Now” button below the “Add to Collection” and “Add to Wishlist” features.

How it works

Our marketplace is special as we’ve done away with long-winded protection policies in favor of one big policy that protects both buyers and sellers from fraud. We collect payment immediately after a buyer places an order, but hold it in a safe account until the successful and satisfactory fulfillment of the purchase. This protects both parties, allowing for easy payment of the seller or a refund for the buyer in the event of fraud.

Pro tips for sellers

Already a seller on hobbyDB or one of the many Funko-themed marketplaces that we power (including Pop Price Guide)? Try these tips to maximize your sales.

  • Take 30 minutes this week to ensure that your listings are current. Make sure that items such as pricing, inventory and shipping rates are accurate.
  • Add real photos. Standard glam images look great, but an actual photo of the item you’re selling will make a real difference. This should particularly be done on all high-value items, especially those listed at more than $50.
  • Check your prices. Scan the Marketplace and Pop Price Guide to get a good idea of what price your item is currently trending at. This will allow you to stay competitive.
  • Stay up-to-date with your email and your seller dashboard to help fulfill orders in a timely manner. This is a great way to build your seller feedback ratings.

Join the fun

Want to join the fun and become a seller? Listing items can be done with the click of a button and the simple addition of your sale parameters. From there you can customize your personal marketplace to best suit your style and needs. Get started by clicking here.

18 Cereal Mascots Who Were Part of Your Balanced Childhood

tony the tiger groucho marx

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

From the first moment someone decided to ramp up the sugar content of breakfast food to appeal to children, Cereal Mascots have been a part of your breakfast table. Some obvious ones come to mind (Sonny, Tony, and Lucky) but we’re also trying to dig a bit deeper here for some more obscure, short-lived brands. So let’s dig in! You might have some flashbacks (or just a huge sugar buzz). And in hobbyDB fashion, we’re mostly concerned with the collectibles related to these characters.

cap'n crunchCap’n Horatio Magellan Crunch has long been one of the heavy hitters in the business, but has had a flotilla of additional characters on board with his campaign over the years. Most notably pirate Jean LaFoote, whose Cinnamon Crunch had a high seas beef with the Cap’n for some reason. The Crunchberry Beast’s motives were less clear, but he seems benevolent. This yellow, spotted shmoo could survive on just the Crunchberries found on his island… just like kids would go on to devour Oops! All Berries cereal and live to tell.

quisp quake quangarooYou remember Quisp, right? Quisp was a staple of breakfast tables in the 1960s and ’70s, who makes frequent comebacks in the grocery store so you won’t forget him. The goofy space alien with the propeller on his head was designed by Jay Ward, who also brought you Bullwinkle, Mr. Peabody and other wacky animation. But Quisp had a rival, a miner named Quake. Quake got his own cereal in the mid ’60s (essentially the same recipe, just shaped differently). They were positioned as having a feud, in which kids could vote with Mom’s wallet. In the early ’70s, kids were given the opportunity to mail in postcards to vote on who got to survive and who would be left soggy and forgotten. I gotta admit, it was a powerful kick mailing that card in!

trix rabbitBut there was a third cereal in the Quaker queue. After Quake was shoved back into the ground, a similar cereal called Quake’s Quangaroos came out, but with a flavor that looked like orange, tasted like orange, but it wasn’t orange. No vote was needed to banish this cereal. (Sadly, there are no collectibles of this character… yet.)

The fate of the Trix Rabbit (did you know his name is Tricks?) was similary tied to the fickle nature of kids’ whims… in 1976, kids could send in a postcard voting on whether the rabbit would finally get to eat the cereal. He won handily. They repeated it in 1980 and again in 1991 with similar outcomes. Who says democracy will never work?

freakies cerealThe Freakies were very much a product of their groovy time. Weird fruit shaped critters with back stories and distinct personalities were a bit much for this extremely, well freaky combination. In addition to early figures and magnets found in specially marked boxes, they have been immortalized more recently.

monster cerealsSpeaking of weird cereal spokesmonsters, General Mills had a huge hit on their hands when they introduced Count Chocula and Franken Berry in the early ’70s. And they struck it big again with Boo Berry, whose purpose was to scare the other two squabbling mascots. But how many of you remember the other monster cereals? Fruit Brute joined the fray for a few years, but was sent to an early grave, as was Yummy Mummy in the late 80s. Funko dove deep and included those fruity monsters in their Wacky Wobblers and Pops series.

sugar beargarbage pail kids sugar crustage sewageHoney Smacks and Golden Crisp cereals share more than similar recipes… They were known as Sugar Smacks and Super Sugar Crisp originally, and featured a frog (Dig ’Em) and a bear (Sugar Bear) as their mascots. Both cereals would rebrand to Honey Smacks (and then just Smacks) and Golden Crisp (although the mascot is stlll Sugar Bear). Obscure fun fact: In its early days, Hanna Barbera’s Quick Draw McGraw repped Sugar Smacks. And naturally, Garbage Pail Kids got a lot of fodder out of such characters.

Of course, we’ve only just devoured breakfast. Sometime soon, we’ll take a look at spokes characters for other meals (as well as some non-edible products).

Who is your favorite cereal spokes character? Let us know, especially if there are relevant toys and collectibles.