History

1919

Robert Henry Pelham was born 28th February in Ripon North Yorkshire.

 

1947

Bob Starts Wonky Toys Ltd registering on 20/5/1947.  Victoria House Marlborough was the first mini factory. In Pelpup News Number 14 Bob states he bought 186,742 toggles that he bought from Government surplus for £15.

 

Bob creates Chloe.

1951

The first Pelpup News was issued.  Featuring Stories, Plays, Coming soon and How to guides.

1952

A Pelpup Tea Party was held in Harrods on the 10th January at 3pm with Ron and Joan Field performing special shows with Pelham Puppets.

In The December Issue Bob mentions that Icen skating puppets will be on TV on the 21st December.

1953

Bob shares a photos of the Ice Skating Puppets featured on TV.

1953

Ceasar was introduced February.

Pelham Puppets secured the right to make Disney characters for the first time.

Donald Duck was introduced March.

Goofy was introduced April.

Mickey and Minnie Mouse introduced May.

Pinocchio was introduced in June.

Pluto was introduced in July.

Noddy and Big Ears were introduced in August.

Carrot Top and Lili characters introduced in November.

Hank was introduced in December.

Ceasar
Donald Duck
Goofy
Mickey & Minnie Mouse
Pinocchio
Pluto
Noddy and Big Ears
Carrot Top
Hank

11th December 1953 @ 7.15 Bob Appeared on a programme called Westwood Ho.  The video below is believed to be the footage.

1954

In December a 7’ high Clown was placed in Harrods Toy Department.

1955

Colour strings were introduced, any puppets sent back to the factory for re-stringing after this time were all colour.  Hence why some earlier puppets may have coloured strings.

 

After the clown had finished he stay at Harrods it was re-dressed in the tailcoat, check trousers and bright waistcoat, which has been, his uniform ever since, and was named BIMBO.

 

1956

BBC’s Panorama programme did a feature at a Toy Fair, which included shots of Bimbo, and as a result, a very enthusiastic American called Mr. Sylvestri ordered 100 Bimbos.  They were sold all over the USA.

 

1957

12th July Reginald Leeper  (best known as Gil) died as a result of a car accident.  He was a great loss as a friends and craftsman.

 

1960

February saw the last Pelpup news printed using the Gestetner Duplicator.

 

For 6 months of the year almost the entire output from the factory was sent to America.

 

1961

In January the first new Pelpup News was issued 6000 – 7000 issues were needed.

 

1962

New Gepetto and Pinocchio were introduced.

 

Bob states how many workers he has – 101 in the factory (90 women and 11 men including Bob) and 101 Women (Including Ann Pelham) who work in there own homes.  He also states he gets through just short of 1000 miles of stringing thread a year.

 

In December an animated window display of Supercar landing on the moon was placed in Harrods.

 

1965

Iz & Oz were introduced and described as “Two comical Ostriches whose antics should be seen to be believed” and were priced at 9/11d.

1966

Jul/August World Cup Willie was introduced for the price of 9/11d

1967

Mr Rusty, Florence and Dougal from the Magic Roundabout were introduced as Rod Puppets.

1967

Year of the Dougal (Bob writes in Pelpup News issue 13).  Bob introduces Mrs. Dougal and Mini Dougal.  Florence, Mini Dougal and Mr. Rusty were also introduced as Glove Puppets.

December 1967 many puppets were sold half price, many of these are the sought after 63 range, Bob states the reason they didnt sell well was the range was too big for shops to stock them all so only sold certain characters.  These were sold off at 18/- which would be about £11.57 in todays money.

1969

More puppets were sold off half price.  These were Bull, Cow, Tiger, Daschund, Hedgehog, Scottie Dog, Katie Caterpillar, Pig, Pirate Mouse, 3 Bears, Goldilocks, Jimmy Gibson, Dr Beaker, Steve Zodiac, Prof. Popkiss, and SM Devil.

 

In October Bob travelled to New York to the Toy Department at FAO Schwarz on 58th Street and Fifth Avenue.

 

1970

The SL Frog was elected Toy of the Year in France by ‘Elle’ magazine

 

Over 100 shop selling Pelham Puppets in France the most popular characters were Wolf, Frog, Bimbo and clown.  In Germany Bimbo and Horse were best sellers.

 

1972

April saw the firm celebrate its quarter centenary.  There was a grand party; Giant Bimbo greeted the 400 guests.  There was a two-tier cake in the form of the Magic Roundabout.  500 25” Pelham branded balloons hung from the ceiling in a net which was released at the end of the night.

 

Bob names the current popular puppets as Bimbo, Horse, Witch, Cat, Skeleton, Mother & Baby Dragon and Vents.  Bob states his all-time favourites were the Donkey and Wags the Dog.

 

1974

Bob states in Pelpup News that supplies are becoming hard to find and becoming higher in price. Bob had a saying (As long as we get our precious screw eyes out puppets will hold together”

 

1975

The Vent Clown was introduced priced £6.85

 

Due to fire safety regulations the production on real furs was deemed too flammable so they had to move to synthetics materials.

 

1976

Drum Kit is introduced as an experiment, only sold directly to Pelpups unpainted at a cost of £2.90.

Full set of Wombles now available.

1977

Rod Hull's Emu was going into production along with a female version named Dolly Bird

 

Due to issues packing MacBoozle in the new style boxes his head was reduced to 2 5/8" as per other SM Characters.  His stockings also changed to being silk screened onto sticky back felt and then rolled onto each leg.  The feet were also made heavier to work better. (Pelpup News 34).

It was announced Animal and Rolf from the Muppets would be available in 1978 with Kermit and Miss Piggy to follow.  Here is the Image from Pelpup News 34.  These are Prototypes and unfortunately Rolf never made it into production due to Jim Hensons not feeling he looked right (the same happened to Miss Piggy) also Animal here has full moulded long arms these were changed to have two part arms and holding drum sticks.

1978

Snoopy was introduced (Pelpup News 36).

1979

Smaller display Bimbos Introduced.

 

1980

19th June saw the death of Bob Pelham.

 

The new factory theatre was completed.  Based in the animation hall is had seating for 100 people.

 

A new version of Lullabelle was introduced with painted lips instead of rubber.

 

1981

Glove puppets were re-introduced and a new range of Glove Puppet using the adapted 63 head moulds were introduced.

 

1983

Henry VIII and his wives were introduced as a collectors range.

 

1984

Collector’s versions on Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket were introduced.