Friday, July 13, 2012

Seriously, there were Manimal toys


I don’t think this would be headline news anywhere else but here. If you recall NBC’s “Manimal”, the TV show that kind of made a laughing stock of the network for a period in the 1980s. The show revolved around a crime fighter who just happened to be able to turn into animals.

So it was a lot like that video Yes did for “Owner of a lonely heart” but slightly longer. Each week, our hero would save the day by turning into a snake, panther or eagle. He could turn into other animals but the budget only let you see the aforementioned snake, panther or eagle transformations, which were well done but I digress.

The series got crushed in the ratings and only aired 8 episodes, so merchandise was out of the question, or so I’d thought. I’d heard rumors that a toy company did have the license but only recently came across them in person

More after the jump.

The biggest problem with merchandising Manimal other than it was quickly removed from airwaves wasthat the premise isn’t very “Toyetic”. He’s a guy and then he turns into an animal. So you’d either have to make a figure of a guy or a toy of a snake. Children could likely reenact the show just by reaching into their toy box and using their (dreaded by toymakers) imagination.

However rack toy legend Fleetwood Toys didn't let cancellation deter them and came up with a novel concept.


Make figures of him in mid transformation! Before you ask, this really  is officially licensed stuff, that's the series logo and the packaging bears the 20th Century Fox copyright.

Of course, that's just a scan of a catalog, did the toys actually get released?Feast your eyes below:

It's my first Manimal inaction figure! I'm sure in the past I've seen these loose at toy shows and completely ignored them, not realizing their inherent greatness.

There is two reasons this brings me joy, 1) it's something that if I'd found out about after my Rack Toys book was published would have upset me and 2) after six years I finally  have a "Manimal" tag for the blog. I'm sure to use that plenty.


phairhead said...

Thank you! I was going crazy not being able to remember the title of that stupid show

Sir A1! said...

The level of stupidity of the show is reflected best when the hero teaches himself kung-fu by watching nature videos which is followed by a montage of him observing a particular animal and then mimicking the action; it culminates with him faux licking his hands like a beaver which is THE deadly kung fu move as any informed martial artist will tell you.

Martin-El said...

Wow. To think I was the only person that loved this show. I met Simon MacCorkindale once too and talked briefly about it with him - he was absolutely charming and flattered I mentioned it, RIP...

Anonymous said...

Longtime reader here, sorry for the long post.

Your blog never fails to amaze me, Love all the things you have unearthed
You are doing such a great job preserving these things, thank you.:)

I was born in 84, so I missed out on a lot of the ral vintage toys, series and movies.
Of course MOTU, MASK, Transformers will forever hold a very special place in my heart, but I was always really intrigued with the 70s toys that I got as hand me downs and stuff I picked up at yardsales like Big Jim, Star Wars etc.
These toys were always a big mystery to me, cause finding info on them without the interwebs was damn near impossible.

My parents are both hardcore hippies with a huge record collection, so at least music wise I got the proper upbringing, before crappy drumcomputers synthesizers and hairdos messed that up hehe

Thanks again for painting a picture and giving insight of how life was in the 70s.
I dont know if it has to do with growing up, but everything looked so much purer back then.
I feel pretty blessed with the toys I had in my childhood, especially when you compare it to the stuff kids nowaday have to grow up with.

Greetings from Holland



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