By: Gregory Stringer
In the days of antiquity, people played a game called Astragals. It used the knucklebones of sheep which had been carved and painted, and the pieces were tossed and thrown against each other. Because the figures would bounce in unexpected ways, they came to be called, “crazy bones.” These games endure today in the form of jacks and marbles.
In 2009, and I was standing in the check-out line at a local Walgreen’s when I happened to notice a basket of small sealed packages, each containing a single toy figure, and a sign attached stating, “Free – Take One.” I felt a bit sheepish, but, what the heck. It said “free.”
I had no idea that when I got home and opened the pack that it would be the beginning of an obsession, one which would take me around the world, at least virtually.
Gogo’s Crazy Bones, in altered forms of montsers, aliens, and other oddities, began sales in 1994 all across North America. The sales ended in 2014. During that time tens of thousands of different figures were released. They were among the hottest toy items ever sold during the nineties, and became so popular they were banned from many schools since playground fights often broke out, as well as numerous claims of theft.
The overwhelming admiration and acceptance of these toys is odd considering the marketing plan did not include traditional television advertising. Instead, rallies were held along with special events at schools to publicize the small pieces of plastic. Promotional rarities, available only at these events and through the distribution company’s Facebook fan page contests, became miniature holy grails to collectors.
The figures were manufactured by Magic Box Int., designed in Spain, and factory-made in China. They were distributed across the globe, with series from the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, U.K., Netherlands, France, Spain, Germany, and Israel. Corporate partners included Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, Panasonic, and Nestle’ among many others.
Commemorative series were issued, celebrating such events as the 2012 London Olympics along with the 2010 World Cup, and contained up to 120 different characters.
My own passion eventually netted me figures from every series released–a total of over 50 different sets. I have classic figures dating from 1994 to 2008, such as Marvel Heroes and Toy Story 2, and contemporary pieces released from 2009 to 2014, including a set of Disney Gogo’s which were never released.
EBay has been essential in gathering together so many different characters from so many different lands. I’ve also been fortunate in trading with other hard core collectors, and virtually every rarity issued is represented in my collection.
It feels strange to have reached the point where there is little left to find. Nevertheless, I continue to enjoy my Gogo’s, and hope that one day there may be a new obsession that will serve as further evidence of my misspent youth.
The Knoxville Toy & Comic Expo is October 10-11, 2014.
© Gregory Stringer, 2014.