Gumby, much like any other entertainment figure (or in his case, figurine), has had an up-and-down career.
As he turns 40, the gray-bearded green boy claymation creation of Arthur Clokey is on the rise again, having found a new audience among Nickelodeon viewers, and regaining his old audience, their parents. Ironically, this is one instance in which mom and dad know a children’s character better than the kids themselves, creating a dual market, according to Tony Marsiglia, president of AJM Marketing, which licenses Gumby-related products.
Gumby licensees are expected to double this year to about 25. Marsiglia said that he is exploring fast food and packaged goods promotional partners. Rather than over license the character, he wants to create quality products with solid play and entertainment value.
Here’s how Gumby’s life has been molded:
- 1956: Gumby makes his TV debut on The Howdy Doody Show.
- 1956-1972: The Gumby Show becomes a Saturday morning staple.
- Early I980s: Eddie Murphy says, ‘I’m Gumby, damn it,’ on Saturday Night Live, sparking mainstream interest in Gumby for the first time in a decade.
- 1985: Gumby creator Art Clokey develops new episodes, which are syndicated by Warner Bros. Warner Bros. holds all merchandising rights, but d’es little to develop the brand.
- 1985: Responsive Marketing forms the Official Gumby Fan Club most members are college students.
- 1989-1993: Gumby drops out of sight. Clokey regains the merchandising rights and designates AJM Marketing, a division of Responsive Marketing, as the licensing agent.
- 1994: Trendmasters is brought on as master toy licensee. Marsiglia chooses Trendmasters because he wants to work with a company that will treat Gumby as an integral part of its overall line rather than just an add-on. First products out on the market are bendable figurines, which hadn’t been available for several years.
- 1994 Nickelodeon begins airing The Gumby Show.
- 1995: Gumby: The Movie is given marginal distribution by Arrow Films.
- 1996: Trendmasters debuts the first of several new Gumby toy products: playsets featuring bendables, talking and non-talking figures with movable parts and ‘color-me’ plush toys.
- Gumby: The Movie is released on video by WarnerVision and becomes a top-10 best-seller in February.
- As 1996 continues, new licensees include Cronies (T-shirts), Innovative Time (watches) and Ross Apparel (youth T-shirts). Trendmasters is formatting a Gumby CD-ROM for a late 1996 release.