Monday, July 07, 2008

Crater Critters

There was a time in my childhood when I would wolf breakfast cereal down, bowl after bowl after bowl until I was so full of sugar and dietary fibre that I couldn't sleep or afford the risk of breaking wind. This was all about obsession. Not food obsession but premiums obsession. I collected the small plastic premium figures that were given away by Kellogg's and other companies in a miserly one per packet way. Boo! If I wanted the set, I had to eat a lot of cereal.

The set you see at the top of this post is the only one I have left. It's the Kellogg's Crater Critters set from around 1970. There were eight in the set and they came in a variety of colours. There was pointy-eared Lunartik, fish-like Bugsy Backbone and the svelte Miss Venus. There was the odd Upsy-Downsy with his black straw boater and King Crater with his black crown (mine lost his years ago). And there was bat-eared Jodrell Jim and the wonderfully named Gloob and Glubber. You never knew which figure would be inside (what they call 'blind boxed' in the world of designer art toys these days) or what colour it would be as each figure could be one of seven colours. These kinds of collectible figures were the prototypes for today's fast food premiums - like the McDonalds toys - and the whole designer toys market.

As I say, this is the only set I have left but at one time I had several. I have no idea where they all went - it's just one of those mysteries that attends the move from childhood to adulthood. Or, in my case, larger childhood (I can't say 'second childhood' as I am altogether unconvinced that I've actually finished with my first yet). I remember a kind of underwater orchestra with fish and octopuses and clams all playing instruments. And a stackable series of bizarre hollow heads that created a Totem Pole. For years I wondered about them ... but then the internet came along and I found other childhood obsessives who'd also kept their toys and posted them online.

Want to relive your childhood (Of course, I'm talking mainly to the boys here. Girls were never this silly about collecting toys)? Then visit the Crater Critters site where they have them all. I spent hours rummaging around and discovered that the fishy band were the King Nep-Tune set (of course!) and the heads were the Totem Tribe. I also found a load of others that had quite slipped my mind. How could I have forgotten Vegetable Sports, Tooly Birds and the Wacky Walkers?

Ah, nostalgia. Its heady scent is intoxicating.

19 comments:

Minx said...

Oh Goddess, I remember the totem thingies. I am a girl but I think I had a passing interest in the internal doings of Frosties at one point. I also fell out of the apple tree and broke my arm - twice.

Stevyn Colgan said...

Minx - it's okay ... collecting small plastic pieces of crap is not the sole preserve of the boys. We just happen to be more anal about it. Arm broken twice? Ouch. But what were you doing in the apple tree ... ?

Stevyn Colgan said...

Oh, and having checked out your very fine blog I see that you are based in my home county too. Bless you. And as we used to say back home ... I'll pop back dreckly.

Minx said...

I was probably being a bit anal about apple trees at the time - I got over it, sort of.

And thank you for the complimentary blessing - I suppose being as you are fellow Cornpad I should go and prepare linkage....

Stevyn Colgan said...

Cornpad ... I rather like that. Mkes me feel useful and comforting.

Stay out of the apple trees. Buy your fruit at a local grocery - preferably organic. It's less dangerous. Unless the grocer is a psycho.

x

Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

You bet your cereal box I collected toys, and I'm a girl!

These things look like gummy bears and actually now looking at this post I am seized with a craving for gummy bears...

Stevyn Colgan said...

Lavina! Lovely to have you back and a nice new photo too. I've always associated collecting - or at least the fevered 'must get the whole set!' type collecting - with boys. Maybe I'm wrong? I always thought that your 50% of the population were far more sensible!

Stevyn Colgan said...

Mmmmmm .... gummi bears ....

willow said...

I was a tad too old for these particular Crater Critters, but I do remember them and my little sister actually had the green guy pictured on the far left of the cereal box. I loved collecting the Cracker Jacks prizes when I was little. Girls are great and hunting and gathering!

Stevyn Colgan said...

Willow - Too old? You jest ...

This post has been a real eye-opener. Maybe it's just Brit girls. Or maybe it's just the girls I know! It's something of a revelation (and a comfort) to discover that the ladies can be just as mad as the blokes. I'll sleep better tonight for knowing that.

x

Big nose said...

Bloody hell you get around! My brother Steve was looking for his long lost Purple Jodrell Jim and found him here! He always suspected that he was kidnapped or abducted by aliens!!

From an old Helstonian can you guess who?

Stevyn Colgan said...

Hey Big Nose - I can only think of one old Helstonian with a brother called Steve and a facial Himalaya ... get in contact via the email address you old sod. And if I'm right, love to Jo. x

Wil said...

One of my lasting early childhood memories is of coveting an orange Upsy-Downsy owned by a friend ( I wasn't allowed Sugar Smacks as I didn't actually like them that much and Mum got wise after a few times of pouring the whole packet into a bowl to get the Critter only to find that I then wasn't that interested in actually eating the cereal) so, now in my forties, I started down the route of Ebaying my childhood back. Trouble is, I've found, that if it isn't the actual item I had back in the day I very much get a sense of anti-climax in actually owning the item after the thrill of the chase. So I've taken to just saving out the pics from Ebay auctions or websites and browsing them whenever I get a case of the 'ah I remember the days of...'

The Tavernmaster said...

Just came accross this site when searching for old cereal toys. I still have 3 of the Critters, but does any one remember FUNNY UGLIES, little plastic characters that joined together to form a totem pole?

I still have about 6 of them, carefully hidden away from my 7yr old daughter (ha!) but can't find any evidence of them on the internet!

Stevyn Colgan said...

The Tavernmaster - I remember them well and even have a couple. Here's the set: http://members.ol.com.au/rgriffin/Critterworld/totempole.html

The Tavernmaster said...

Awwww Fantastic! I hadn't seen Owl Eyes but have the others! I remember as a youngster (45 next week, sigh...) having a little torch that I used to put the Uglies over and illuminate them under the covers.

magical :)

Stevyn Colgan said...

Tavernmaster - Thought you'd enjoy that! x

Stevyn Colgan said...

Tavernmaster - Thought you'd enjoy that! x

Tavernmaster said...

Cheers Stevyn!

I note you like Jim Moray, me also. Is he touring anytime soon?

Check out my website at www.hobgoblinstavern.co.uk

Anyone remember Tunnels & Trolls???

:-)