As Consul indicates, pop culture has been a major source for toys long before children’s fast food meals came with figures from the latest blockbuster film. Li'l Abner (1934-1977) was an American comic strip set in Dogpatch, Kentucky which satirized Southern life—mostly in good humor. The strip found its niche in being the first American slice-of-life comic set outside of the Northeast and became wildly popular. The original 1925 patent for this complex, wind-up operated gearwork toy was held by Unique Art Manufacturing Company. Over the years the product was repainted and repackaged a number of times until 1945 when Unique purchased the rights for Li’l Abner, and created Li'l Abner and his Dogpatch Band. Instead of bland musicians playing a song not at all befitting of the complexity of the device, when Li'l Abner and his Dogpatch Band is wound up it is the leading cast of the comic performing a spastic song and dance. Therein was a world of difference. The toy became one of the most popular on the market until it and the Unique Art Manufacturing Company went out of business due to unrelated difficulties. For a time though this lively Southern-themed plaything marketed as “a unique toy for your girl or boy,” was just one of a number of interesting and unique holiday gifts given in the first half of the 20th Century.
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