Hugo, Man of 1000 Faces
Kenner Toys, 1975
Okay, I'll say this -- my parents really outdid themselves every Christmas. I don't think my brother, sister, and I were particularly spoiled, but our Christmas mornings were filled with the most awesome collection of toys.
Not only did we usually get the one or two things that we really, really wanted, they also gave us this wide assortment of things (including books, games, puzzles, model kits, you name it) that we didn't even necessarily ask for, but that they knew we would love. And most often, we loved what each other got as well.
Now those of you who have visited my basement know that I still have most of these treasures.
But then there's Hugo -- The Man of 1000 Faces. I distinctly remember my brother Jason getting Hugo one Christmas (1975 seems about right, based on the Sears wishbook catalog page above). This would also make sense, because I think 1975 was my Monster Christmas, where I got all these Mego and AHI monster action figures, so Hugo would have been a likely counterpart for my brother.
The only problem is -- neither Jason, my sister Julie, nor my parents ever remember having Hugo in the house [cue Twilight Zone music] .
I mean, look at him -- how could anyone forget having this?
But here's the thing -- my mother never got rid of anything, yet when we cleaned out their attic during their move a few years ago, I didn't come across any evidence of Hugo (none of the little disguise pieces, no box top, nothing....)
So how is it possible that I remember playing with this creepy little puppet with the glue-on disguises? I remember that he was heavier than a hollow doll would have been, and had a vaguely chemical/plastic smell -- probably from the glue.
While we're looking at him (just try to break that hypnotic stare!), isn't it weird how even though he was manufactured in 1975, he has an uncanny resemblance to Verne Troyer/Mini-Me? Also, note that he is wearing a puffy shirt (why, exactly?).
Finally, before you try to push Hugo into the recesses of your mind where nightmares dwell, take a last look at the catalog page. There's a great mid-70's Brady Bunch/Hollywood Squares-esque board showing 9 of the 1000 faces of Hugo. Take a look at the Mr. Brady spot (bottom row, center, for those not in the know)....apparently Hugo could masquerade as John Lennon (!).