Wednesday, March 21, 2012

eBay Oddities

Every Wednesday is "eBay Oddities" here on Unpunched.

Amidst our random searches on eBay we often stumble upon weird and wonderful treasures.

This week I present to you: Puppet Kooler Hogan

The great thing about posting oddities from eBay is that you get to find and research stuff that you'd previously never known existed before. Many items unfortunately don't have a back story (and are just plain weird). This little eBay gem is a bit different in a way. It's kind of mysterious.

Puppet Koolers seem to be an idea that didn't really catch on, even with a bunch of popular licenses (various sports stars, Mario, Hulk Hogan, Micheal Jackson.) it didn't take wings and fly.

I couldn't really find much information on this oddity, all I could piece together was this:

- They were made in 1989

- You can use it at a can cooler, to hold a drinking cup or as a pencil or toothbrush holder
- It includes a drinking cup that sits inside the Kooler.
- This toy was sold through Bloomingdale's of New York City and also by mail order.
- Every puppet Kooler came with a certificate of authenticity.

It's interesting that the company "Puppet Kooler Industries" and the product itself was not documented in anyway, shape or form. I was expecting at least a Wikipedia page or something.

Here is a video of the Micheal Jackson Puppet Kooler being unboxed:

Let us know if you owned one of these things before! Maybe you have some more information!


  1. These are awesome, I would buy the set if I saw them in stores today, but not if it was a Justin Beiber one.

  2. Heh heh! My wife (Marsha Johnson) designed & sculpted all the puppet kooler originals in the late 1980's. In the youtube video, You have the very rare earliest packaging Michael Jackson; Marsha had to sculpt him many times before Micheal approved. And the hat, shoes and arms were separate from any other puppet coolers. The Puppet Kooler was NOT our idea, but evolved from an idea of a "beer buddy" or "sports Fan" by Lance Ayon and produced by Steve & Bobbie Lipman.
    Marsha Johnson sculpted hundreds of different prototypes characters from Fred Flintstone, ice hockey to heroes of desert storm. If there was popular person in sports or cartoons it was a prototype or in production.
    There were no women Puppet Koolers as an early version of Betty Boop revealed 'legs wide apart'.

    Marsha Johnson was the artist for packaging & everything! Everything! Hey, it was a fun gig while it lasted........

    1. Wow! That's interesting! Your wife did a fantastic job on these. I would have never thought there would be a problem with women puppet koolers, but I guess you'd have to produce one before that 'issue' dawns on you.

      Are you guys still in the collectables industry at all?

      PS. Alas, the video isn't of us. I just swiped it from youtube (maybe should have made that clearer).

  3. Jeremy; it is just interesting how the real story of how strange products get onto the market.
    The twists and turns of idea development, and the learning curve of ordinary people going into production of a manufactured item, all the way to the marketing...
    The whole idea came from a 'freezable one can drink cooler' from a young man(Lance Ayon) at 'Inventor's Workshop International' get together. The first horrible prototype had the 'Boz'(Brian Bozworth) face on the front and was named "Beer Buddy" ...then the idea just grew like a cancer from there.
    There was a primary investor, Hal Kirsh who was a 91 year old multi-millionaire, poured a million into this company. PKI (Puppet Kooler Industries) Arleta, Ca...
    Puppet Kooler was voted as upcoming "Product of the year" by many retailer magazines, collectible publications and the general gift/holiday/ retailer market. We secured the license of so many sports, movie and pop characters (hundreds) was destined to be the home-run product of 1989.
    Except;.. it is a bizarre "what is it, what does it do" $30. retail joke. The Kooler was on a lot of T.V. talk shows as a butt of prop jokes (and there were plenty.) With the strap Reggis Philbin had a long swinging Magic 'Johnson'; there were "New Kids on the Pot" jokes; believe me we heard plenty and came up with our own jokes. (I never believed in the product from the beginning, it was bizarre)
    And No, we are not into any collectible creations, and have been taken advantage of by numerous shysters in the industry; and there are plenty. (all because we are prototype makers.) But, I hope the value of these weird kitschy items goes up so we can sell some of our "collection". But who on earth is interested in "New Kids on the Block"? I'm glad you liked the weirdness of this; i think it has a kitschy funk appeal. Mario, (of Mario Bros.) seems to be the most popular, followed by Michael Jackson. Least favorite is George Bush 1 & Colin Powell.

    1. Wow what a great story, it is very interesting to hear some of the details behind the collectibles we see on the shelves.
      It would be great to see some of the prototypes, do you have any you could share? For some reason I can't get enough of these guys.

    2. Thanks for sharing some of the backstory Kenny, it's very much appreciated! I can only image some of the problems you guys faced with such an 'interesting' product. Hopefully it didn't jade you guys too much.

      If you come back and read this, maybe I could ask a couple more questions?

      - How long were the Puppet Koolers around for? Did they only see shelf space in 1989?

      - Did you guys have commercials at all? Or did you rely on the Talk shows for marketing? (I imagine the joking didn't help)

      - Out of the Hundreds of licenses, which ones did you feel should have been made? I can't imagine why the Colin Powell one didn't sell (haha)

      I don't know if these would survive in today's regular market, but bizarre stuff seems to sell now (especially with the internet). I hope Puppet Koolers find their way into some sort of weird following. Heck, I didn't know about them until a few months ago and I wouldn't mind picking one up. (and Malcolm already did haha). Thanks again for the insights!

  4. Jeremy & Malcolm; Thanks for your interest....
    To answer questions;
    #1. It seemed to take forever to actually have a product; I think it was on the shelf from late 1988(Christmas) to 1991. The product changed names to "Superstar Collectibles" and we were hitting the consumer electronics retailer shows with some "radio in the base" puppet koolers I made.
    #2. No paid commercials; just odd TV spots, magazines, trade magazines and trade show booths for retailers to buy.
    There was a Thriller Micheal Jackson "Look-a-like" dude that went to trade shows also, with Steve Lipman the ceo.
    There was an action 'point of purchase' display that would have Micheal Jackson dancing all day, in an arctic scene.
    #3. We made any possible Pop character at the time from sports, music, animation and politics. Whatever character prototype that would be pre-ordered in significant enough numbers, would get produced. Disney characters maybe could have helped; but Disney license is hard to get.
    (KISS would have been cool)
    There is NOTHING that could have made this product successful; it was too costly to produce, had no reason to exist......
    As a collectible, People buy the Image of the character; they aren't buying a 'drink cooler'. The CEO kept treating the 'collectible' as a drink cooler/toothbrush/pen/pencil holder/ with strap; With FACE of pop star!... if like 'more is better'. When "more" actually becomes more bizarre.
    Today 2012, Bizzare is what makes it....interesting, funky, weird, "what-were-they-thinking", what does it do?..etc.
    Maybe I'll send some photos of other koolers, some prototype faces and other dorky idea attempted. (All guaranteed to bring a laugh.)
    Lance Ayon and Marsha (my wife artist) went on to produce "cyber kids" some plastic kid & animal characters based upon living in an adventurous circa 1989 computer world.
    A cartoon show was considered by Hanna-Barrera based upon their adventures.....It is quaintly retro today.

  5. Awesome! thanks for the response Kenny! If you'd like to share some photos with us feel free to send them to unpunchedblog (at)! Maybe I can ask you a few more questions and we can make a proper post with all this information? (Instead of having it buried in these comments)