That tiny thing next to the register?
That, my friend, is a peculiar little treasure, one I had for years before I knew anything of its background.
It's called a Popsie:
Made in Japan by Pride Creations in the early '60s, these guys were designed by Rolly Crump.
This Rolly Crump.
One of the first and surely the most unique of the legendary Disney Imagineers, Crump was a key designer for the look and effects of the Haunted Mansion, the Enchanted Tiki Room, the Adventureland Bazaar, and likely his most popular and best known design, the incredible clock and facade for It's A Small World. Few people who ooh and aaah at his work know the name of the artist who has just moved them so.
These little figures are also called Push-Down Popsies, because when you push them down...
... a little tombstone-shaped, irreverent message pops out of the figure's head!
In this case, it's like a little voodoo doll, a fetish figure, and I keep one of the needles in that message so that it doesn't retract back into his head.
When I found this little guy at a junk shop some 12 years ago, I had no idea what it was. I'd never heard of the product line, and had certainly never seen one, and therefore had no idea it was associated in any way with Rolly Crump, one of my heroes.
Then again, I did see it from quite some distance, ran over to the shelf and grabbed it knowing it was a rockin' design, so the Crump influence must have been showing even if I was ignorant of it.
It was sitting on the shelf with the message retracted, and when I picked it up, I noticed the feet kind of bouncing, and knew I had to push down... and I fell in love with the odd little thing. I think I paid fifty cents for it, maybe seventy-five.
According to a number of collectors, there were some 175 or so different designs in this line. Some devils, bats, Frankenstein-type monsters (looking quite a lot like this fella) can be seen here and here.
Rolly Crump is still alive, still creating, still inspiring others to create.
I also recently had a collector tell me that the less-than-a-buck I paid, even a dozen years ago, was a pretty absurd little price -- apparently these guys are quite collectable.
As I began this post, I went looking for images of other Popsies, and now I'm very much afraid that I have a new obsession brewing.
Golly, Rolly... I think you deserve a lolly. Prol'ly.
Thinking of you...