Sunday, August 05, 2007

Nursery Comics Merchandise

When Karenina was sending me information on her father, Ron Garner, she also sent a photograph of a Moony, based on the character Moony From the Moon who appeared in Harold Hare's Own Paper in 1959 and continued his adventures in Playhour when the two papers merged in 1964.

The plastic Moony doesn't actually look very much like the "little black and white spotted chap" who appeared in the comics. "As for the Moony doll, they were awful, weren't they?," says Karenina. "I had an inflatable one as well, which was far more like the comic character, but I imagine that the plastic/rubber perished long ago."

The Jack and Jill group of comics inspired more spin-offs than most British comics. Not the merchandising blitz we've now come to expect thanks to Star Wars but there are certainly quite a few collectable items based on the various characters. I'm still looking for a lot of these items to add to our little archive of related ephemera.

Amongst the most collectable items are the John Beswick-produced nursery-ware based on characters from Jack and Jill and Playhour. This covered a range of decorated mugs, beakers, eggcups, cup, saucer, babyplate and oatmeal. Beswick was bought up by Royal Doulton who kept the range running until the end of 1970.

One of the nicest spin-offs was a series of Ladybird-style books featuring many of the characters from Jack and Jill and Playhour. The series ran to 18 volumes with a further 2 advertised but I'm convinced they were never released.

1 Jack & Jill and the Friendly Badger. Mar 1962.
2 Harold Hare's Garden Party. Mar 1962.
3 Katie Country Mouse to the Rescue, illus. Philip Mendoza. Mar 1962.
4 Around the World with Freddie Frog. Mar 1962.
5 The Jack and Jill Book of Jolly Jingles. Apr 1962.
6 The Travels of Little Red Squirrel, illus. Harry Pettit. Apr 1962.
7 Gulliver Guinea-Pig's Magic Diary, illus. Philip Mendoza. Apr 1962.
8 Jack & Jill and the Old Castle. Apr 1962.
9 Uncle Ben's Woodland Friends, illus. Sep E. Scott. May 1962.
10 The Adventures of Tom Thumb, illus. E. T. Coelho. May 1962.
11 Jack & Jill and the Baker's Nightingale. May 1962.
12 Pixie Pip at the Fair. May 1962.
13 Little Red Riding Hood. Sep 1962.
14 Katie Country Mouse Goes to London. Sep 1962.
15 Judar and the Magic Treasure, illus. Ron Embleton. Sep 1962.
16 A Medal for Spangles. Sep 1962.
17 The Magical Adventures of Aladdin, illus. E. T. Coelho. Oct 1962.
18 Gulliver Guinea-Pig's Mystery Trip, illus. Philip Mendoza. Oct 1962.

advertised but not released:
19 The Boy King Arthur.
20 Teddy & Cuddly and the Lost Gosling.

A further four books were released by Purnell in 1966. Not quite as nice a format and no dust-jackets, but quite nice none-the-less.

Fun with Pixie Pip.
Hallo, Harold Hare.
Katie Country Mouse and Her Friends.
Teddy & Cuddly at Home, illus. Bert Felstead.

1966 also saw the release of at least one jigsaw puzzle from Philmar -- Philipp Marx having been a minor publisher of the late 1940s and early 1950s who produced a wide range of jigsaw puzzles.

The 'Twin Jigsaws' contained two separate puzzles and I was lucky enough to pick up a box recently which contained both puzzles complete.

There were other spin-offs that we don't have. One reader, Marilyn Fielding, who contacted me through the Look and Learn website, recalls having a Harold Hare record which featured Harold singing about "Lovely crunchy carrots." "It was a flexi-disc which we had to put on top of a real record in order to play it and it must have been given away with something because the quality of the recording was so crackly and poor. But it gave me and my two sisters tremendous pleasure for many years and Dad would sing it to us even 40 or 50 years later as he brought carrots to the table. Good old Harold Hare!"

If anyone recalls any more nursery comics spin-offs (or can locate that record), let me know.

(* All characters © Look and Learn Magazine Ltd. Sorry about the quality of a couple of the pictures, nabbed from eBay. The photo of Moony is by Karenina Bennett.)


  1. Fantastic stuff as usual Steve. I hadn't realised I knew a lot of those comic characters including that ghastly plastic Moony! But the mystery of why I do lies so deep in my unconscious that it would take a lot to prise it out!

    One question, is that 'friendly' badger REALLY licking that boy's face?!?! How times have changed!

  2. Good grief, no. They're hugging. It's completely innocent and platonic. Or the badger has his teeth sunk into Jack's ear judging by the scream he's letting out.

    Let's keep this clean. I don't want to see "squatting over a baby badger" turning up in Roger's Profanisaurus as a euphamism for anything.

  3. I'm afraid upon showing the picture of the Moony doll to a work colleague, they said perhaps it was the original idea for a sex doll! I can see what they mean.



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