My good friend Larry (yes, he of Franks and Beans fame) recently added to my Thing collection (there are weirder things to collect...I think) when he found the object in the center of the above picture at a used toy shop somewhere in the magical land of Pittsburgh. The bottom is made from a hard plastic, but from the waist up it's built from a flexible, hollow rubbery substance, and to top it off, there's a medium sized straw-like protrusion sticking out of its back. This was, of course, rather perplexing to both of us, but a little bit of research shed some light on this strange figure.
This Thing was made in 1978 by the Funstuf company, and it seems I have an incomplete version of the toy (though, obviously, I have the most important piece). The complete version comes with a pump, clasps to hold the arms down, and a...well, a box to put it in. Check out this 1970s commercial to get a better idea of the hours and hours of fun you can have with this toy:
Just think! If I had the pump and the box, I could do things like put the thing in the box, pump twice, and see him break out! Then I could...uh...put him in the box again, pump a couple more times, and...see him break out. After that, I could...well...put it back on the shelf.
What a bizarre figure. As Larry pointed out, though, you'd be hard pressed to get a toy that did ANYTHING back in 1978, so perhaps I'm being too critical. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that this is the ugliest Thing in my collection - but I love it for just that reason. Now to look for that box...
To think, if this were twenty years ago (and I was just a wee lad at eight years old), I would probably be beating my head against a wall trying to figure out what in the world this toy was and what its purpose could possibly be. But thanks to the wonder that is the Internets, all it took was the copyright information on the bottom of the Thing's foot, about ten minutes and a Google link to YouTube to come to this satisfactory conclusion. Thank goodness for it.