Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Mr Spock

I pity the poor child who got given this Spock costume. Let's just gloss over the fact that it says 'Super Hero' on the packet, it's definitely meant to be Mr Spock. So you get a promisingly large box which contains a costume and mask.

OK, I can see the mask is not perfect, but it's got pointy eyebrows and ears, that's the main thing. Even if you're not a Star Trek fan, you'll know what Mr Spock looks like, and it looks passable. However, even if you've never seen an episode of Star Trek in your life, you will know that his Star Fleet uniform does not look like this - 
No, Mr Spock does not go around wearing a picture of himself on a bright yellow plastic tabard affair. Nor does he wear cheap blue nylon trousers.

It just doesn't make any sense. If they can draw a picture of Mr Spock wearing a plain blue top and print it on the costume, why didn't they just make the costume like the picture? Of course, if they had, we would have missed out on this rather fine piece of artwork, which shows that angry Mr Spock has either eaten his Ready Brek or is being electrocuted.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Jolly Swagman

I rather like costume dolls. My especial favourites are the 'Dolls of the World' kind. Rather than being souvenirs from a particular country, a manufacturer just makes a range of dolls to represent different countries. The dolls themselves are all identical (though some might have a different skin colour), and just their outfits are different. I'm not sure if that is how this Australian Swagman doll was produced, but certainly this doll was never intended to be a man.

Nope, not even a thick false beard will do it. (Makes me think of the stoning in Life of Brian - "Are there any women here?")

Monday, 28 November 2011

Pom Pom Mascots

It's a well-known fact that when you stick googly eyes on a pompom, it becomes a mascot.
OK, let's just do a pompom mascot roll call. Blue poodle. Orange cat. Brown spotty cat. Yellow bear. Orange lion. Red mouse? Green...bear?
If you add arms made from a peg, it becomes a clip-on pompom mascot.
So let's just see who we have here. A monkey and a lion on the top. Then... a lemur? And... a wolf. Close enough, that'll do.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Baby Face

More from my postcard collection today. A very good friend of mine has been about to give birth for the last week, so I'm hoping these lovely pictures of babies will encourage her to get on with it!  

The one above is truly bizarre. The headscarf, the elephant, the off-centre composition, the thing just out of shot - all very unsettling.
All these postcards were found in Crete. We were on holiday about ten years ago, and discovered a souvenir shop with an entire stand of these kitsch old postcards of children, families, couples. I bought about a hundred of them. I wish I'd got more, but at the time it seemed crazy enough to be buying that many!

I think it is (or was) a European phenomenon to publish postcards of quite ordinary domestic scenes. I can't imagine who would want to send or receive these cards. Or why that baby above was considered photogenic enough to merit two different postcards in different outfits.

Mind you, I find the next one positively menacing. Is it just me, or does she look like a wrestler about to come out fighting from her corner?
This last one is Italian - 'Buon Compleanno' means 'Happy Birthday', but that child looks about to burst into tears. Probably because some photographer has smeared his face with cake.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Cross Spaniard

 I'm always surprised at how many people find old dolls 'creepy'. I generally find them funny, or sometimes just plain ugly. These dolls made me laugh for just being so very cross! And startled, too!

I suppose they are a bit scary... So you have to wonder at the process of manufacture. Did no-one ever think that maybe this wasn't the most attractive and friendly pair of dolls to send out into the world?

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

It Must Be Love

Another postcard from my collection. It's a classic isn't it?

I think that odd shape is the outline of a flower, but even if it is, that doesn't really explain it. It's an odd montage, isn't it? Larking about in a field on a cloudy day. I'm not sure their pose really says 'togetherness'. She could just be trying to get away from him and his scary beige crimplene flares. But even if you want to believe they're having fun, I don't think that any real-life couple have ever really held hands and swung each other about in that fashion. Not in earnest.

On the plus side, I LOVE her outfit. Those boots!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Let Them Eat Sweets

This is a vintage sweet tin. I love its kitschiosity (yes that is a real word, thank you).  And I am in awe of the weird inspiration of dressing up children like Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI and making them pretend to play chess. And then deciding this is the perfect image to sell sweets. Perhaps they were just bored with kittens, roses, thatched cottages and the like.

Or maybe I've missed the point entirely and these were famous child film stars in their most popular roles? ... Nah, I prefer to think it's more random than that.

Monday, 21 November 2011


A cross-eyed ceramic cat bell. Why, oh why, oh why?

Friday, 18 November 2011

Judy for Girls

The Judy Annual for Girls might not seem like a curious object, but when you look at it closely, it's pretty odd. The cover photo looks like a snapshot taken in someone's lounge, and that's exactly what it is. They encourage readers to send in their photos, which is quite endearing, and it must have been rather thrilling for young Melissa and her cat Daisy to be on the cover.

Even in 1980, the stories in girls' comics revolved around looking after children and animals.

'Wee Slavey' and 'Orphan Island' also fall into the category of poor but good girls being given a rotten time by the rich and mean. There was a lot of that in olden days, it appears. There are also a few 'girls in peril' stories and ghost stories.

Judy was after my time, but I never read girls' comics much, (I preferred The Beano). It's no wonder, when you see the restricted choice of role models in these stories. In the comics I remember, like Bunty, the career choices for girls were nurse, ballerina, air hostess or showjumper. Unless you were good-looking enough to become a model. Nothing much had changed by 1980, it seems.

However, contemporary culture does make an appearance. A comic strip about Johnny Nash. (I must admit I struggled to remember who he was.)
In that limited world of girls comics, pop stars and ponies sit side by side. 
And the most potent reminder of how long ago 1980 was - a 'computer' made of cards and string. 
Lastly, my favourite comic strip, the bizarre 'Fish Twins'.

Not quite sure how they reconcile their fishy friendships with their adopted father being a commercial fisherman...

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Growing Girl

I think it says a lot about my over-familiarity with kitsch, that I rather like this little ornament. There was a funny trend in the 1960s, in the US in particular, to portray cute little girls with their eyes closed. (That's another book waiting to be compiled - 'Dolls and Figures with Closed Eyes'.) There was another trend to put 'real' hair on ceramic figurines. However, the trend, if it ever existed, to have long-necked girls growing out of plants is unknown to me.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Fish in the Desert

One day I might compile a book of inappropriate souvenirs.
This souvenir portrays pastel-hued marlin (or sailfish or some other kind of ocean-living fish) on giant shells. Las Vegas is in the middle of the desert.
Who cares? I didn't, when I saw such a lovely bit of kitsch.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Rubbish Jubilee Souvenirs

Sometimes I even surprise myself by how long I've been collecting what is, quite frankly, rubbish.
I was 15 at the time of the Silver Jubilee in 1977, and even then, I was amused at some of the ridiculous royal memorabilia. Which is why, today, I still have this random collection of stuff. You may love the Queen or consider her an unnecessary anachronism, but by any standards, these things are rather odd tributes.

Amongst other things, I present a box of Jubilee tissues (not to be sneezed at, ho ho!), the wrapper of a Lyons Maid Jubilee lolly (pineapple and strawberry flavour), the top of a Silver Jubilee Mousse (raspberry, peach and vanilla flavours), an empty can of Co-op Jubilade (strawberry flavour fizzy drink - yuck!) and the Jubilee issue of Buster comic.

Having kept this pointless stuff for nearly 25 years, in a mood of wild optimism and cupboard clearing, I tried to sell it on Ebay last year, but got no takers. I can't remember what the starting price was, but I must have been a bit too optimistic about the foolishness of royal memorabilia collectors., as there were no bidders. However, I am still open to offers...

Monday, 14 November 2011

Futuristic Antique Postcard

Lady Constance was somewhat disappointed with the accuracy of the Princess Leia costume her mother had selected for her, for the fancy dress ball.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Table Decorations for Every Occasion

How does a German book on table decorations end up in a Bristol charity shop?  'Unwanted Gift' probably covers it, but whatever the reason, I was happy to find this classic insight into the imaginative world of the author, Sibylle Haenitsch-Weiss.

To start with, the cover does not do justice to her take on fine Italian cuisine. Pasta stuck on a wine bottle is not enough - the meal should be presented on a photographic tablecloth of pasta.
That's better! Food strewn across the table seems to be a theme that Sibylle enjoys. Here is her interpretation of Americana. Admittedly, the popcorn thrown everywhere makes you think of a particularly bad multiplex, but hey, that IS America.
And you do get a personalised ketchup bottle.
This next one is Sunday brunch. Obviously, the Germans do brunch differently...
My German is very rusty, but I'm pretty sure the next one is called 'King Ludwig Invites You'
If you're ever asked to do the decorations for a 'medieval banquet', Sibylle can show you what to do. Wrap fake fur round your knife and fork handles and put some plastic knights on the table. Brilliant!
I would love to go to one of Sibylle's swanky parties. I bet they're so much fun! Look at this Hollywood-themed table. Um.. why is the serviette in a fag packet? And why is there a small boulder on the table?
Google translate cannot seem to cope with the word 'Zwergenfest' - it comes up with 'fixed dwarf'. I think what Sibylle is actually trying to convey is the fun of having some sort of celebration with garden gnomes. My, that's a busy table!
 And last but not least, why not invite your friends around for an Alien Visitation? Wow, it's like you're really eating in Outer Space!
 Sibylle advises spraying everything silver - a water pistol becomes a laser gun, a pebble becomes a meteorite, and a washing-up bottle becomes... an extra-terrestial? (Honestly, that's what it says.)
Sibylle Haenitsch-Weiss, we salute you!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Let the Dog See the Rabbit

OK. Why am I showing you Japanese stickers? Well when I got these (probably early 1990s, but might even have been in the 1980s), they were certainly very unusual. Now we've been overwhelmed by Japanese kawaii (cute) stuff, but back then it was pretty weird to see in the UK. They belong to that era of trendy Japanese T-shirts with random English phrases on them. ("Cool Beer Dynamo Orange!" "Happy Peace Flower Strawberry!")

These stickers are still weird, though. It says they're for children, but... A dog has a date with a rabbit. They go to the beach, the dog tries to take a photo of the rabbit getting changed (I think?) They drink beer and wine, and smoke. They dance and kiss, and the dog drives the rabbit home.
(If you want to see for yourself, click on the image to see it large size).

I just unearthed these from a box, and they made me laugh, so I decided to share. Bit late in posting today - I hope I haven't kept you waiting! I'm still having lots of fun with this blog, and I don't think I'm in any danger of running out of odd things, so I hope you're still enjoying it too! Many thanks for the comments - it's great to know there are some people out there who share my appreciation of the weird and wonderful!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Beat Gonks

Do you remember gonks? These hairy critters came in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some Scandinavian versions (possibly trolls rather than gonks) were made of wood with fur hair and string arms, like the ones above.

Apparently, they also came in a strange, Beatle-inspired version. I'm assuming they're modelled on the Beatles because of the hair, (and because of the likelihood of cashing in on their popularity) but I could be wrong. This one looks very cross.

His drummer friend is not much happier...

That's some mop-top!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Sinister Kitten Postcard

This postcard cannot possibly be intended for cat lovers. Would you sit a small kitten between two lighted candles? No, the red velvet background gives the game away - this is obviously some sort of satanic rite.

I'm not sure if the kitten is a sacrifice, or whether she is actually an evil minion of the dark lord. Look at those eyes. A Hypno-Kitten maybe?

To add to the overpowering effect, this is an extra-large postcard (6" x 8"). On the other side it says 'If more than conventional 5 word greeting, Letter Rate applies.'
I'm just guessing, but I suspect the conventional 5 word greeting is "All Hail, Your Satanic Majesty!".

Monday, 7 November 2011

A Dolly You Can't Refuse

Recognise the tune? Yes, it's the theme from The Godfather. How is that appropriate? And why has the dolly got such enormous feet?

Friday, 4 November 2011

Bright and Beautiful?

Another mildly baffling piece of religious kitsch, picked up in a religious shop in Rome. It's a plastic rosary, yes, but better than that, it's a glow-in-the-dark plastic rosary.
Better still, it's a giant-sized glow-in-the-dark plastic rosary.
(It's also the hardest thing in the world to photograph and our garden bench was the best thing I could find to show the scale.)