Cheap and Cheerful – Imperial Toy 1973 Catalogue
No 70’s childhood is complete without at least one Imperial Toy memory, I bet you all have one, you just may not know it…
Remember those little plastic parachute guys that you hurled skyward or chucked off the Grade 5 balcony, and then stood entranced as his little chute magically popped open and floated the crazy commando safely back to Earth? PoopaTroopers they were, just one of Imperial’s little plastic delights. Imperial made many of those wonderful pocket-money plastic and rubber novelty toys that clogged pharmacies and supermarket checkouts from Melbourne to Montreal. “Rack Toys” as they are officially known were often great little earners for the shop keeper and excellent sanity-preservers for Mum.
I couldn’t begin to calculate how many Teeny Bouncers disappeared in my schoolyard back then, I wonder where they all went?
In one of the greatest moments of serendipity the toy world has ever known, Imperial where able to pull of a visual slight of hand with the naming of their Hong Kong Gorilla (below), clearly aping the original Kong but wrapping themselves in the legitimacy of the manufacturing state of origin of their rubber gorilla! What a triumph! Beers all round on that day I’m sure.
The visual merchandising of Imperial was a lesson in how it’s done. From full colour printed counter display boxes to self-supporting Toy Fun Centers like the example below, the products popped from the displays like a comic-book novelty page come to life. Kids could not resist nagging Mum for one on every visit to the shop.
In Australia Imperial Toy debuted in Safeway Supermarkets with bubbles and blister-carded novelties, thanks to the work of John Hunter of Len Hunter Toys, who secured the Imperial agency on a trip to the New York Toy Fair in the early 1970’s.
Good one John, the kids of the 70’s owe you a 21 Party Popper salute.
PS – Check out my mate Brian’s Imperial Toy page on his uber-blog Plaid Stallions