When I first discovered this little plastic man with a movable mouth in an auction lot of winnings, I thought the was Uncle Sam or something because of his red, white, and blue coloring — and the hat. Well, he’s red, pinkish, and blue… And the hat wasn’t your typical Uncle Sam hat, but that’s what I thought. Until my mom schooled me that he was Mayor Phineas T. Bluster from the Howdy Doody Show.
Sometimes you’ll see these vintage plastic figures called “cake toppers” but while there’s nothing to stop anyone from using them on top of cakes, these are little plastic toy puppets made for children who were fans of Howdy Doody. They were early television show merchandising tie-ins from TeeVee, Kagran Corp.
According to one of the original point-of-sale display cards, there were five characters from this classic TV show: Mr. Buster, Clarabell, Howdy Doody, Princess Summerfall-Winterspring, and Dilly Dally.
The display card encourages kids to “Put On Your Own Puppet Show.” To make them talk, “simply jiggle the lever in back of his head.” That’s a bit less than Buffalo Bob Smith had to do. *wink*
Staying in character, Clarabell does not talk — instead, kids could blow his “musical” horn.
The toys stand about four inches tall and are made of plastic, not celluloid.
Additional Image Credits:
Original Tee Vee display card via 69ferrari69.
Photo of all five vintage Tee-Vee Howdy Doody toys by Kagran via PACKRAT-COLLECTIBLES130.