Saturday, March 23, 2013

Newspaper Comic Character Toys

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Newspaper Comic Character Toys

    Cartoon characters were very popular in the early years of newspapers. Although I was born in 1948, I did see large whole pages of newspaper comic characters. At that time newspapers were also much larger.  However, even before 1948, cartoons and the comics were very popular and readers read them every day.

    The history of the Nifty Brand is quite interesting. The best place to read up on this "brand" of toy is to go to Scoop, an e-newspaper. As it turns out, a man by the name of Mr. Oscar Witt who had been employed as a comic strip cartoonist (artist).Later, he designed board games for children's play.   Eventually,  Oscar Witt, came up with the idea of designing toys with newspaper comic characters. He was the owner of the Nifty Brand which people at th time thought was the actual manufactuer of the toys. However, as it turned out, the toys were made in Germany by H. Fisher, and distributed in the USA by another company,by the name of Geo. Borgfeldt.

   Many of the cartoon (comic) characters of the times were clumsy or always fighting. As a result, Oscar Witt decided to design many of the Nifty Brand toys with that idea in mind. If you look at the
photos, you'll see below most of them a small write-up describing how the comic characters moved.

"The Powerful Katrina" was a character from the newspaper syndicated entry titled "Toonerville Folks". Katrina was a very strong woman,and so to illustrate this point, the young boy is held up by 1 hand. Being a wind-up toy, KAtrina moves and the boy rises and falls through her movement.

With this wind-up toy, the "characters" bounce up and down, almost falling out of the truck, 
as it moves along.

"Mr. Jiggs" was a copyrighted cartoon characgter by Mr. George McManus through International Features Service (also a copyright owner). As the car moves, Mr. Jiggs head moves and bobs ina jerky motion.

The Nifty Brand also manufactured other toys besides the highly-successful line of cartoon toys. 

Here's BArney Google, another famous cartoon character from the 1920's-1930's. 
This is simply a push toy that will roll after it is pushed.

Another of the trucks made by the Nifty brand. THis one is a wind-up, but with an interesting mechanical movement. AS the truck moves forward, the bed will tilt towards the back. Eventually, the tailgate will open.

Here's another wind-up toy with another interesting movement, similar to the truck above. The truck moves forward, stops, the flatbed tilts, and the cans, I assume drop out. NOtice the cleverly though out wheel at the back. That prevents the truck from tilting too much and falling over.

Mr. Jiggs, whom I mentioned before, had a partner in the newspaper comics by the name of Maggie. THey'd always get into an argument in the papers, and would eventually hgave a "falling out" (fight). He'd use the cane, and her "weapon" of choice was the umbrella.

"Felix the Cat" was one of the most popular cartoon comic characters of the "Platinum Era of Comic Characters". I remember seeing him, and of course "Mickey Mouse" on TV in B & W, and of course silent (no sound). in the ealry 1950's.  The toy is another windup, and Felix moves forwards and backwards as the tricycle moves forward.

Another pair of newspaper comic characters called "Buttercup" and "Spare Ribs" (the dog).  This toy is a pull toy as you can see from the string. As the toy moves, Buttercup's head and the broom move up and down. 

What's interesting about all of these toy is that they have managed to survive 90 years or slightly less. The process of lithography on tin certainly made the paint adhere to the metal well. What's also interesting, is that most of the comics in newspaers were at the time in black and white. Adding the colour to the toys must have made these characters all the more intertestin to the children who received them.

Thgankd for dropping by,

and have a restful weekend, or weekday,wherever you may be.

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