Monday, January 4, 2010

Sic Transit Gloria Magic Mummy

It may have been a little hasty of Murgatroyd's PR people (AKA the Franco American Novelty Company) to say that he was a bigger phenomenon than the King Tut Magic Mummy. There wasn't anything bigger than this in the novelty line in the late 1940s! King Tut had Mystery Action, for one thing, which is more than motionless Murgatroyd had. Plus he came in bright colors like Blue Raspberry Popsicle blue or Chemical Green Apple green. And his sarcophagus has that snappy red lining.

And please note the WARNING on the ad (from Billboard, December 18, 1948):

The manufacturer of the original KING TUT MUMMY is going to prosecute to the full extent of the law all imitators and infringers of this item. Be on the safe side buy the original in the blue and orange box called KING TUT, THE MAGIC MUMMY.

Or else! Or else you may find a few hundred of these things flying through the air to give you a smack on the head!

Well, but what does King Tut do? Oh, he comes to life with Mystery Action, that's all! You have to help, though. Just keep him in the plastic sarcophagus and then hand him over to someone else. He will fly right out of there, pronto. 

This is sort of like being half asleep on Monday morning and then realizing that there is coffee nearby. So you jump up, of course! Without flying through the air. Mostly. I wish I knew King Tut's secret. My theory is that it involves caffeine in some way.

Actually, I can tell you the secret because I found the patent, here. It has to do with magnets, one in a false bottom of the sarcophagus (if you want more details by all means please click on over to the patent and enjoy). If you want the mummy to stay put you tilt the sarcophagus so that the correct magnets line up. Hand it over to an unsuspecting friend, who will hold it lying flat - and King Tut jumps up like a Starbucks barista just called out that his Gingerbread Latte is ready for pick up.

You can see a picture and description of a green King Tut Magic Mummy here at Time Passages Nostalgia. The picture of the blue one is from Byemylife. Thanks to them, and to Rob's Puzzle Page, too, which cited the 1949 patent for this toy. They still make these today, by the way. And the gingerbread latte is from here, of course.


brett said...

Hi Lidian

here is the patent drawing if you are interested:

...yikes that is a long link! how do you make those tiny things? Is that patented too?

wngl said...

This could be the spokespharoah that Starbucks has been looking for all these years. Imagine how quickly and completely skeptics will be silenced once they've experienced the Mystery Action of a caffeinated King Tut. These can be handed out at airport kiosks as a promotion (perhaps as a consolation for body scans?), where travelers will marvel when Tut pops up out of his sarcophogus grinning with all his mummy teeth, a brimming venti latte in his gauzy grip. Ronald McDonald beware!

Barbara said...

Now when he was a young man,
He'd never thought he'd see,
(King Tut)
People stand in line,
To see the boy king.
(King Tut)
How'd you get so funky?
(Funky Tut)
They said you do the monkey.
(Born in Arizona, moved to Babylonia, King Tut)
(King Tut)
Now if I'd known,
They'd line up just to see him,
(King Tut)
I'd've taken all my money,
And bought me a museum.
(King Tut)
Buried with a donkey,
(Funky Tut)
He's my favorite honkey.
(Born in Arizona, moved to Babylonia, King Tut)
Dancing by the Nile,
(Disco dancing)
The ladies love his style.
(Fox Tut)
Rockin' for a mile,
(Rockin' Tut)
He ate a crocodile.
He gave his life for tourism.
(King Tut)
(Tut, tut. Tut, tut . . .)
Golden idols!
He's an Egyptian!
They're selling you.
(King Tut)
Now when I die,
Now don't think I'm a nut.
(King Tut)
Don't want no fancy funeral,
Just one like old King Tut.
(King Tut)
He could'a won a Grammy,
(King Tut)
Buried in his 'jamies.
(Born in Arizona, moved to Babylonia, he was born in Arizona)
He's got a condo made of stone-a. . .
(King Tut)

Eric said...

Well there's a shabti that's not too shabby.

The Crazy Suburban Mom said...

You know what I think? I think people used to be much more easily amused! LOLe

Tori Lennox said...

Hey, if you buy these by the gross (which I had to look up to learn was 144) you can save a ONE WHOLE PENNY per Tut! What a bargain!!!

Rob said...

Looks like a 50 cent gimmick from a vending machine near the grocery store checkout lane.

Lidian said...

brett - Thank you for that long link! It was very nice of you (and you are far more patient than I am!) I think that you can get to the drawing from the link I put up, though - it's sort of all one unit, as far as I can tell. And those tinyURL thingies are free for all, here's one I use -

Barbara - I was thinking of Steve Martin and this song and how much he'd have liked these (should have put up a YouTube clip!)Thank you for typing all that out, you and brett are so nice and so patient!

Eric - Well, quite!

Tracy - I still am ;)

Tori - I didn't notice that, that is incredible!

Rob - Oh, but this is so much more fun than a plastic Smurf or a gumball!

DrJulieAnn said...

You know in The Graduate when Whatshisname tells Dustin Hoffman that the future is in plastics? I'm thinking it is because Whatshisname is really the creator of all of these novelty items and thinks that they are the greatest thing since, well, sliced bread.

I think you were right--they just had so much plastic after the war that they had to figure out SOMETHING to do with it. Lucky for us, they figured out how to turn it into yarn and call it polyester.

Richard @ The Bewildered Brit said...

I want one of these!!!!! :)

Lidian said...

DrJulieAnn - I remember that from The Graduate, yes (such a great movie, I must see it again sometime). You're right about the plastic, it's perfect for this sort of thing. I can't imagine this being made out of, say, Bakelite!

Richard - Well, you are in luck, because they still make them. But not in the blue and orange box - you've been warned!

Richard @ The Bewildered Brit said...


Health said...


The Crazy Suburban Mom said...

LOL, well...okay you got me there because who am I to talk? I go to a website and read old catalogs! That I even read before... for hours!

Hairball T. Hairball said...

"The manufacturer of the original KING TUT MUMMY is going to prosecute to the full extent of the law all imitators and infringers of this item. Be on the safe side buy the original in the blue and orange box called KING TUT, THE MAGIC MUMMY."

Wouldn't it be simpler to just have King Tut put curses on the imitators?

Brett said...

yeah, duh Lidian...I didnt see how to get to the drawing part in your post and went to USPTO cause I just have to see the drawings. Then I realized my dufus mistake and tried to post again yesterday and messed that up too. I blame it all on cheap coffee.

P.S.I love your blog!

Lidian said...

Tracy - I go there and read the old catalogs, too (as you know)!

Hairball - You know, that would be much easier.

Brett - I always blame coffee - or lack of coffee! And thank you...I can't tell you how much it means to me to have people like my writing, it is amazing to me, really :)