7/4/14

Diener Thimble Theater Popeye and Friends...bootlegs or?

I've had these little plastic Popeye and friends figures for a few years now. I found them at the flea market, so I had no idea what their provenance was. They are merely marked with the copyright symbol and '1980 K.F.S.' They seem to me to be like game pieces or something, but today I read over at Little Weirdos that there were Diener erasers that look just like these guys.

But all of mine are a hard plastic - not eraser material at all! On the right is an actual Diener eraser figure - we all had these back in the day...I think they were even some of the early McDonald's Happy Meal toys...but my Popeye bunch aren't even remotely made of the same material. In addition, the Diener robot actually has 'Diener' on his back. Could the Thumble Theater players be bootlegs?

I have two Popeyes, a yellow one and a blue one.

I also have Brutus (not Bluto) which is cool, because I don't own any other Brutus merchandise.

I like the blue Popeye best, the color really brings out the design.

A yellow Olive Oyl.

An orange Swee' Pea.

And last but not least, an orange Wimpy.

Here's another look at that Diener eraser Zama robot. These guys are super soft and squishy. I know later Diener monsters and such were of a harder rubber, but still rubber. The Popeye cast and crew are a solid plastic. So I am not entirely convinced that what I have are official Diener figures. I think they may be bootlegged versions made into plastic, unless Diener sold the molds later on, or possibly released them as figurines too?

UPDATE: According to this post at Neato Coolville, the Diener figures were made in different degrees of hardness. These Popeye figures may just be made of the hardest material they produced. Not effective as erasers, but let's face it, none of us used these things as actual erasers, they were useless as such!

UPDATE #2: Reader Alan C. emailed me to inform me that these figures are Popeye's Chicken Kid's Meal toys from the eighties. Makes perfect sense, considering Diener's association with fast food restaurants, and, well, Popeye/Popeye's Chicken. Unfortunately I also learned there is a Poopdeck Pappy figure, so now my collection feels incomplete!

9 comments:

  1. Very cool and nostalgic for sure!

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  2. These look awesome and i was talking to someone at work about those Diener Erasers and how they were a major part of my younger school life.

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  3. There isn't any Popeyes toys and having these is good. Details quite good!

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  4. I used to have Porky Pig,Bugs Bunny and other eraser figures like this as a kid.And you're right,i used them like any other toy and never as an eraser.

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  5. Very cool! I have never seen the hard versions. As you mentioned, it could be that Diener just produced them in different materials like they did with other lines. I have hard and soft versions of the Diener Space Creatures.

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  6. i remember these as a kid. they would give them away for kids meals at popeyes chicken places. we would get ours at a victoria, texas locations

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  7. i use to get these toys at a popeyes chicken place in victoria,texas

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  8. i remember these as a kid. they would give them away for kids meals at popeyes chicken places. we would get ours at a victoria, texas locations

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    1. Great info - I bet that's exactly where these came from. They're pretty awesome, I am glad to have found them. Around what year do you recall these being sold?

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