About Me

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No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 51-year-old Aspergic CAD-Monkey. Sardonic, cynical and with the political leanings of a social reformer, I’m also a toy and model figure collector, particularly interested in the history of plastics and plastic toys. Other interests are history, current affairs, modern art, and architecture, gardening and natural history. I love plain chocolate, fireworks and trees but I don’t hug them, I do hug kittens. I hate ignorance, when it can be avoided, so I hate the 'educational' establishment and pity the millions they’ve failed with teaching-to-test and rote 'learning' and I hate the short-sighted stupidity of the entire ruling/industrial elite, with their planet destroying fascism and added “buy-one-get-one-free”. I also have no time for fools and little time for the false crap we're all supposed to pretend we haven't noticed, or the games we're supposed to play. I will 'bite the hand that feeds' to remind it why it feeds.

Friday, July 2, 2010

F is for Freaky Freddy Frogman and his Filosophic Flipper-Footed Floating Freinds

Although this is one of my 'in depth' looks at something, there is only one acknowledgment tonight, the Philosophic Toad who provided the old advert for Nabisco. As this is also in part a request by her, there's a nice symmetry there somewhere!

The original patent applications for Kellogg's, apparently the first recorded case of someone applying for a patent for a performing novelty diver/swimmer was a German gentleman in 1891. quite how a tin-plate toy would have achieved buoyancy is anybodies guess!! I know - It would have been wood or India Rubber or some such? I couldn't find his application, but found these during the search.

Notable is that A) While both applications were made the same day, it took two more years for the double figure application to be awarded? B) The patent is only sought for a period of 14 years, taking it through to 1969.

These actually throw up the most interesting bit of information to come out of the research for this post; The applicants seem to be two brothers, Henry and Benjamin L. Hirsch who apply as "Assignors to Kellogg Co." Now - with more modern applications say for Tomy, Mattel or similar the 'Assignor' is clearly an agent for the toy company, making a patent application on behalf of and signing over (Assigning) the patent to the toy company. Also there is a complication in US Law known as 'assignor estoppal' which I'm not going to go into here as it's all complicated stuff!

However the Hirsch brothers were - incidentally - the owners of a cardboard box manufacturing facility...sounds frightfully posh? I'm tired...they had a box factory! They also hold the patent - as assignors to Kellogg's - for the diving submarine, and other non-Kellogg's novalty patents.

So what? I hear the more impatient among you mutter as you read through all this drivel so's not to miss anything while really just wanting to get to the next 'pretty picture'. Well, if you've been following these cereal premium posts you will recall I made a tenuous link between a UK paper/board magnate and the production of the Soldiers of the World a month or two ago. It looks as if that link was stronger than even I was willing to credence, and that Kellogg's made a habit of having their packers produce/source/invent their give-away premiums whilst they - Kellogg's - held on to any Patents!

Two of the three Kellogg's figures, I have the limpet mine holder in red but he's so badly chewed there was no point including him in the photograph. I aught to point out that while Kellogg's held the patent (if they renewed it after '69?), they didn't hold the mould, and these figures were available in bagged sets as recently as two years ago, the only difference between them and the vintage ones was the level of rust/corrosion on the stoppers, missing on my example, however see the Manurba divers down the page.

Nabisco went with a different system all together, and probably closer to the original German's idea. While Kellogg's divers use baking soda (or - I believe - certain types of washing powder?) to generate gas (air bubbles) causing the diver to rise until the bubble departs the chamber whereupon he sinks again, with Nabisco, a lightweight moulding holds a small air bubble against the pressure of the water - in this case; in the face cavity - and by pulling/pushing a cork in the neck of the vessel you can produce movement in the diver, or screwing and unscrewing a cap, it's all about air-pressure at the surface changing the density of the water the diver is suspended in.

There was only the one pose of 'Freddy Frogman' and I don't know if I'm searching for a blue one or a Yellow one?

On the left we have a modern take on a combined Kellogg's/Nabisco system, I think these were issued 8/10 years ago, a Nylon/Rayon type dense plastic with both air-traps in the hands AND a gas chamber on the foot. The caps have yet to be removed from the 'sprues'. I don't know who issued them but Quaker and Nestle have avoided mention in this post so far...as have Cadbury?

On the right is most (?) of the Manurba divers who follow the Hirsch patent, the two blue figures still having their metal caps.

These are vintage Nabisco and of the same system, indeed they are the same plastic (a quite soft ethylene) and were a later series, coming with six sea creatures (Turtle, octopus, Pelican Fish, Swordfish,Sea Horse & Stingray) I've never seen?. Of note is the fact that the larger mouldings call for two air-traps to produce the same effect, as the mass is greater.

A look at the five types seen above for the comparison of sizes.

Known Issues;

Kent Sprecher over at the Toy Soldier HQ has some smaller versions which he credits to the '54 issue, which makes sense as they have larger powder chambers which are not the same as the patent application drawings. so adjusted list;

US Kellogg's 1954 - Smaller versions of the three large ones (Corn Flakes) [Predates the patent?]
US Kellogg's 1955 - The three large ones (Sugar Corn Pops)
US Kellogg's
1963 - The three large ones (Shredded Wheat)
UK Nabisco 1957 - Freddy Frogman (Shreddies)
UK Nabisco 1960 - Powder blue ones with sea creatures (Shreddies)
UK Kellogg's 1987 - The three large ones [Radcliffe]
UK Kellogg's 1990's? - The three small red ones
Toy Racks 2008 (approximately) - The three large ones

US Kellogg's also issued a rubber-bulb hand pump tube operated diver with Raisin Bran in 1961, this would have been a larger toy similar to the submarine I remember getting in my stocking one Christmas as a small boy.

[I notice that this images has been stolen by Ghislain Oubreyrie and poorly 'Photoshoped' for his mostly plagiarised website, there's nothing I can do about it at the moment, the man's a thief, but one day I'll sue his arse, and the more he puts (of mine) on his site the more I'll sue him for, at his current rate of thievery, I'll be getting the price of a small house off him one day...any French Intellectual Property lawyer fancy an easy case? It's just comparing images (with originals) and site-editing dates! meantime; the high quality originals will always be found here] 

19:09:2010 - An additional frogman pose turned up at Joplin's show a week ago, so here's a shot of all three with the markings laid out. They all have Kellogg co. down the left 'sprue' as you look at them in the photo, with the given number clear on the other arm and blobby/blurry on the reverse of the bottom of the left (right - as you view) foot/lump.


leesa said...

This is fantastic!

Thank you so much for all this info!!!

Hugh Walter said...

Cheers Leesa, if you click on 'Divers' in the tag list you'll find more on them and similar bath/water toys/novelties.


leesa said...

Thanx again!

With your obvious expertise, I was curious if you knew anything about Baking Soda Rockets from the late 50's? My Dad said he had these Pump Water Rockets that you pumped-up with a little Handle... AND he swears he remembers similar Rockets that you filled with Water and Baking Soda and capped them... then bazoom! I've used the google Machine and can only find the Water pump versions. any ides?

Hugh Walter said...

I may have encountered them while surfing, but not to the point of taking notes! The Pyro/Merit pair may be? But I think they are just water, they sound a tad dangerous! I wonder if your father and/or his friends were experimenting with a standard water one, you can get spectacular results with a bottle of cola and a Mento (look for proof on YouTube) so I can see how they would work, but it's getting to two to mix safely?


leesa said...

He's not sure... it was long ago... hehe. He said he thinks it was water, but maybe it was Vinegar, and there was a small Wafer you dropped into it. Maybe it was a Vinegar + Baking Powder.