Monday, December 22, 2014

The Christmas Toy

Over the course of the last few weeks, I've posted all sorts of holiday-related images--angels, Santas, inflatable Nativity scenes, Chuck Norris, etc.

The item pictured above? It is not any of those things.

It is, in fact, a gorilla.

It was made and distributed by Louis Marx and Company, a toy manufacturer that produced windup toys and action figures from just after World War I to the end of the 1970s. He stands about eight inches tall (slightly more with his arms raised as shown above). He has a button on his back that's supposed to make his arms move back and forth and wheels on his feet so he can roll across the floor.

The gorilla was given to me as a Christmas present from my grandmother sometime in the mid-1970s.

And he is the only Christmas present to survive from my youth.

Of course, this gorilla wasn't actually purchased by Grandma, even though she lived only a couple of streets over from a Toys R Us. She rarely left her small cottage on McLean Avenue unless she was on her way to the hospital for one reason or another. He was most likely bought by Mom at the aforementioned Toys R Us and stuck under the tree on Grandma's behalf.

I have no idea why I still have him, of all of the toys I got for Christmas back in the '70s.

It's not that I didn't love the gorilla. I did. I do. He fought with my Mego superheroes many a time and was often called upon to play the part of King Kong while a rubber crocodile--who also, oddly enough, survived and is still with me to this day--stood in for Godzilla.

It's just that there were other toys I loved more--the Megos and the Universal Monsters, all of which were given away by my Mom to the family next door when I was a teenager and, in her estimation, way too old to still have such toys. (To this day, she maintains that I agreed to this. To this day, I maintain I did not.)

Yet, there the gorilla stands.

He's been trough tough times, like all 40-year-old toys. The button that's supposed to make his arms move doesn't really work anymore--now when you press it, he just sort of shrugs. He's got "melt marks" on his body where it came into contact with other old plastic and had a bad chemical reaction. And his teeth had lost their enamel within a couple of years after I got him. I painted over them with Wite-Out back in the day (what do you want? I was a kid). Even that wore off eventually, though, so recently I gave the teeth a proper paint job and, while I was at it, added a little white to the eyes (which, if I'm not mistaken, never had any color at all).

He looks pretty goof for 40, I'd say. And he doesn't just come out at Christmastime--he's on display all year round in La Casa del Terror, hanging out with other ape figures like a couple of actual King Kongs (one modeled after the 1933 original, the other released in conjunction with the 2005 remake), as well as a nasty-looking Ultra-Humanite.

The gorilla more than holds his own with his simian playmates. He has seniority, after all.

1 comment:

JB said...

What a cool story! Every toy, whether beloved or neglected, has a history.