51 Shades of Geek

Q*Bert PVC figures (1983)

As previously seen in ToyBox, Kenner hoped they were latching on the next big thing in the world of post-Star Wars toys when they landed the license for the Q*Bert video game characters.

Q*Bert figurines - photo copyright 2000 Earl Green / theLogBook.com Q*Bert figurines - photo copyright 2000 Earl Green / theLogBook.com

Q*Bert figurines - photo copyright 2000 Earl Green / theLogBook.comEasily the highlight of their line, and now among the hardest-to-find, of the Kenner Q*Bert toys were the small-scale PVC figurines, not unlike similar lines of toys produced by Coleco to reap the licensing harvest of Donkey Kong and Pac-Man. These figures had the odd disctinction of featuring some of the most – and least – game-related spinoff products devoted to this particular game. Such depictions as Q*Bert on a disk, standing next to Slick, or in the clutches of Coily the snake are right out of the game. But Q*Bert on a skateboard? Q*Bert wearing a Walkman? Q*Bert preparing to “pitch” a baseball from his nose? These seem like they might have been inspired by the barely-game-related Saturday morning cartoon based on the characters.

Q*Bert figurines - photo copyright 2000 Earl Green / theLogBook.com Q*Bert figurines - photo copyright 2000 Earl Green / theLogBook.com

As the toy industry changed, and the video game industry took a nose dive late in ’83, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Kenner didn’t stick to their guns when it came to the Q*Bert properties. But when one looks at the quality of these figures – easily the best Q*Bert merchandise to hit the stores – and then thinks about such sequels as Q*Bert’s Qubes and the 1999 revival of Q*Bert with tons of new characters, it’s sad that Kenner (later bought out by Hasbro, whose interactive division released the new version of the game) didn’t have a little more foresight. Still, it’s unlikely that further Q*Bert characters would have flown out of the stores, so again, it’s understandable.

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