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Weebles "Weebles Wobble But They Don't Fall Down" By Tori Mask
When Hasbro aquired Romper Room Inc. in 1969 the Weebles were on their way
to Toy History. The Romper Room Show itself began in 1954 and was
syndicated or franchised across America until the early seventies, when
Weebles toys hit the marketplace.
The genesis of these little toys that wobbled but never fell down was actually the Romper Room Punching Clown -- Weebles are tiny plastic versions of "bop-bags".
The first version of the Weebles was a fatter, squatter family than most Weebles people remember. They were "peelable", with the litho uncoverd and easily scraped. Within a year, the Weebles were improved and all new packages touted the Weebles as "Improved Peel Proof Weeble". The original family was a dark-haired father with a red shirt or blue v-neck sweater, a blond-haired mother in a green dress, a boy in blue jeans and a white "W" tee, and a red haired girl with green pants. There was a brown family dog, too. A baby was soon added to this line-up; she was pink and held a blue balloon.
The treehouse and cottage followed in 1973. The Weebles popularity grew with the line. Soon the Weebles family had its own vehicles, a boat (the S.S. Lilleputt), a playground (swings, slide, and merry-go-round), pop-up camper/trailer, train, marina, airport and plane (a plane was also included in the Weekender set), haunted house (with scared girl, boy, witch and glow-in-the-dark ghost), blimp (with pilot), circus (with Wobbles the clown, Gina the trapeeze artist, and Bert the Ringmaster), race-track (with Weebles numbered 1-4), and a submarine (with diver). Some of the most rare vehicles include the dairy truck (not sure what the Weeble looks like that came with this one) and firebrigade truck with firefighter.
Disney got into the Weeble mania and approved the production of the Magic Kingdom set, the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse set, a Winnie the Pooh treehouse, a Winnie the Pooh cottage, and a Winnie the Pooh circus. The Disney weebles include: Mickey Mouse, Billy and Karen the Mouseketeers, Donald Duck, Goofy (in two forms), Pooh, Tigger, and Christopher Robin.
From literature, the Weebles sprang up in a Treasure Island set (complete with pirate ship and four pirate Weebles) and another version of the treehouse for Tarzan and his ape friend.
The Wild West had its own Weeble line -- The Weeble West Ranch, a Western Train, the Wagonmaster, and Indian Wigwam sets. The wagonmaster is larger than the cowboy girl and boy and Indian girl and boy from these sets.
Holiday Weebles were produced in carded sets of two: Christmas had Santa and Rudolph; Easter had a bunny and chick dressed in their Sunday best. For Halloween, you could find the glow-in-the -dark ghost in his purple ghost van, or buy a SuperWeeble -- his back is opaque and when you turn him he becomes a mild-mannered ice-cream truck driver, with his super-identity cleverly hidden! He came with an ice-cream truck and his nemesis was a black-haired fellow known as Mr. Trouble, who carried a bomb in his back pocket.
The Flintstones family and Raggedy Ann and Andy were carded sets as well.
Tumblin' Weebles came in 1978 as a variation on the standard Weeble. The weight was free to fall into the larger head so that, on an incline, the little guys sommersaulted down. A fun house and a few other sets were produced.
The last of the Weebles were the Sesame Street crew, in the early 80s. These include: Big Bird and plane, Ernie and Helicopter, Cookie Monster and Sailboat, Bert and convertible, and Oscar, plus a Sesame Street playground.
Other Weebles merchandise included puzzles, a big bop bag, and jewelry (you could wear a charm necklace of your favorite weeble to school!)
The Weebles also had a big following overseas in Japan. You can occasionally find these sets in their foreign boxes. Some paint variations from the U.S. versions do exist.