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Futurama Writer Saves Tiny Presidents
November 9, 2009 12:06 PM   Subscribe

Futurama Writer Saves Tiny Presidents. Beginning in the 1950's, toymaker Louis Marx released a line of figurines of U.S. Presidents (accompanied by a model White House). Sold as sets and given away as grocery store premiums the figures are still popular collectibles today. The series ended when Richard M. Nixon was president. Patric M. Verrone, writer for Futurama and The Simpsons has carried on the tradition, using appropriate torsos from the old Marx figures and sculpting new heads, he has continued the line up to President Obama.

Verrone hawks these at his web site. In addition to U.S. Presidents, he has sculpted Supreme Court Chief Justices and other historical figures including "President for a Day" David Rice Atchison.

Interesting fact from the "line of figurines" link: During the 1968 election Marx made figures of not only the major party candidates (Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey) but some of the leading contenders, such as Nelson Rockefeller (then-governor of New York), Robert F. Kennedy (NYS Senator) and Ronald Reagan (then-governor of California). Prior to election day Marx created President-series figures of both Richard M. Nixon and Hubert H. Humphrey, hedging his bets over the winner of the election. Nowadays the Humphrey figures still frequently turn up mint in bag on eBay (as well as do most all of the Presidential figures), whereas the other 1968 candidates such as Ronald Reagan, Robert F. Kennedy and Nelson Rockefeller are somewhat harder to find (and more expensive).
posted by marxchivist (26 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
And yes, the "marx" in my user name comes from Marx Toys, which I am an avid collector of.
posted by marxchivist at 12:07 PM on November 9, 2009


Wow, he looks like he traveled here from 1957.
posted by zzazazz at 12:13 PM on November 9, 2009


Surprised he makes the whole bodies and not just the heads.
posted by tapeguy at 12:14 PM on November 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Verrone's also the president of the WGA and you can read all kinds of interesting commentary about his leadership on Craig Mazin's blog. (Hint: it could be better).
posted by clockworkjoe at 12:17 PM on November 9, 2009


I remember this figurine set. Rather, I remember the figurine of James K. Polk, which somehow made it into my toy collection. I don't know where the other Presidents got to, nor where I'd gotten Polk in the first place. I remember the little square base he stood on, which if memory serves was embossed with his name. This is how I knew his name was Polk.

As with many figures in my toy collection, James K. Polk frequently showed up in the stop-motion animated pieces I made with our ginormous home video camera. Did a whole bunch of these during Junior High and High School, and they were all just way too out there in terms of non sequiturs and stupid camera tricks.

Polk would usually stop the middle of a piece to complain of its complete lack of redeeming social values, like Sam the American Eagle or Graham Chapman's "Stop it, this has become entirely too silly" Colonel. Then he'd turn into a bagel, or get consumed by a giant blob of blue modelling clay, or just knocked over by a salvo of Lego bricks.

This was well before They Might Be Giants had written a song about the gentleman, so I didn't know much about him except that he looked rather stern and it was funny to get the cat to run into the shot and knock him over.
posted by Spatch at 12:18 PM on November 9, 2009 [8 favorites]


Here's a creative shot of your Polk figure Spatch.
posted by marxchivist at 12:21 PM on November 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


My brother had a set of those. I clearly remember him taking the Nixon figure out of the bunch, wrapping it in tape and throwing it out in a fit of rage. I was too young to really understand why, I just assumed he had a good reason.
posted by bondcliff at 12:22 PM on November 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Where are they gonna find jars small enough?
posted by The Whelk at 12:22 PM on November 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


The jars aren't the problem Whelk. Where is he getting the Torgo's Executive Powder?
posted by cmfletcher at 12:28 PM on November 9, 2009


Here's a creative shot of your Polk figure Spatch.

Oh, that's brilliant. He's definitely a strategy game miniature there, isn't he? With a special Manifest Destiny bonus and all.
posted by Spatch at 12:49 PM on November 9, 2009


I think my second grade teacher had these in our classroom, and someone kept stealing them (to the point where the principal called us out of the room, one at a time, to ask if we were the one who'd stolen the presidents).

I never found out who did it, but I had my suspicions.
posted by Lucinda at 12:49 PM on November 9, 2009


I want to see pictures of the William Henry Harrison as Dracula figure.
posted by ooga_booga at 12:59 PM on November 9, 2009


These are pretty cool. But the Obama one looks bad. Something's not quite right about the face, and the right hand looks a bit larger than his head.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 1:01 PM on November 9, 2009


Why is he using a gloss finish?! He could benefit from learning to use washes and dry brushing too.
posted by ursus_comiter at 1:03 PM on November 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I remember being very into this when Wegmans was giving away one president per week. Sadly, the only thing I learned was that Testors Model glue dissolved the styrofoam base...
posted by Marky at 1:03 PM on November 9, 2009


Ah, so that's what he's been doing instead of making the jokes funny.
posted by $0up at 1:18 PM on November 9, 2009


and other historical figures including "President for a Day"...

Oh my god, I was totally hoping you were going to say he made a little figure of President Sterling Watson (1 2 3 4 5), which would have been the most amazing thing EVER.
posted by Ian A.T. at 1:20 PM on November 9, 2009


I don't know...that Taft seems mighty svelte.
posted by ColdChef at 1:38 PM on November 9, 2009


I want to see pictures of the William Henry Harrison as Dracula figure.

William Henry Harrison! He died in 30 days ...and LIVED FOREVER.
posted by The Whelk at 1:43 PM on November 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm kind of disappointed that the W. doesn't have that 'check out my monster lats' gorilla-arms thing going on.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:19 PM on November 9, 2009


These are pretty cool. But the Obama one looks bad. Something's not quite right about the face, and the right hand looks a bit larger than his head.

I love the idea of these . . . . love miniatures, period . . . but either the photos are bad for a lot of these or they actually do look like someone melted the features of many of the figurines.
posted by bearwife at 3:42 PM on November 9, 2009


These would nicely compliment my favorite set from Marx, the Ben Hur playset.

"Row well and live, forty-one!"
posted by Esteemed Offendi at 7:10 PM on November 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Heh. My grandmother gave me President Polk when I was little. Thanks for the background.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 8:56 PM on November 9, 2009


I had the entire set, and the Styrofoam steps, as a kid - I pulled them from a neighbor's garbage can. He had tossed them after failing to sell them at a garage sale. I kept them on a shelf for a couple years, but then ended up losing them one by one. I recall burying a number of them in my backyard sandbox, victims of a terrible earth-tremor or something.

Ah youth - if I had only had an inkling of their future worth!
posted by jazon at 10:01 PM on November 9, 2009


I just came in here to make a dumb joke about the Presidents and White House being Marxist toys.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:08 PM on November 9, 2009


The tiniest president was 5'4" James Madison, followed by Benjamin Harrison and Martin van Buren at 5'6" and John Adams and William McKinley at 5'7".
posted by kirkaracha at 6:31 AM on November 10, 2009


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