In May, 1965, the Humphrey B Bear show first appeared on Australian television. It ran for over 3,000 episodes, only ceasing production in 2009! Toys and merchandise of this much loved character are now quite collectable.
Classic Toys had the exclusive rights to make all Humphrey merchandise, together with Southern Television Corp. From 1969 to the mid 1980s, the products were made in Australia, until high costs forced the company to move production overseas.
The earliest soft toys were made from dark brown art. silk plush, with a large pot belly and short, sturdy limbs. The eyes were of white vinyl, with black buttons for the pupils. Each Humphrey distributed a yellow plastic boater hat and fabric tartan waistcoat. Due to the size, 45cm, each toy was quite heavy. These first toys are comparatively rare to find, and usually naked!
Humphrey toys made in the 70s were of gray plush, with black and white eyes attached with glue. The nose was now of black fabric, the waistcoat and boater hat sewn on, and with a removable white vinyl collar, to which a yellow fabric tie was attached.
Many other types of products were also produced, from the 60s onwards, including money boxes, records, books and lunch boxes.
From 1999, Banksia Productions owned the rights to Humphrey. It increased the range of products to also include such items as back packs, CDs and crockery. In 2009, however, the company went into bankruptcy. A dispute is still being heard in the courts regarding the right to use Humphrey's image.