Sunday, October 7, 2007
For years, all I had was a memory.
A small plastic figure, with the head of an alligator and the body of a rabbit. Purchased in Santa Maria California sometime around 1978 and last seen in West Jordan Utah sometime around 1984.
That's all I had. I remembered exactly what it looked like, and had the name "Rabbagator" in my head (but was that the name of the toy? Not sure.) That's it. Oh, and that there were others in the "series," similar mixed up animals. That's really all I knew.
I can't say I really "looked" for the Rabbagator after that, but I did look, at yard sales and antique stores. I looked through thousands of toys (being a toy connoisseur) and never found it or anything like it. For over two decades.
Then came eBay. Again I "looked." I started seeing lots of plastic toys. Piles of the old figures I had buried in the bottom of my toybox for years. Dinosaurs, army men, farm animals. I started to look really closely, seeking the familiar Gator head. Yes, now I was really looking.
I had nothing to go on. Ebay searches for "rabbit bodied gators" didn't get me far. I tried everything I could think of at the time, but still the best solution was to look. "Lot of plastic animals" was my best bet. Look through the pictures of piles of plastic figures.
Finally a breakthrough. An auction for two strange looking plastic figures...one with the head of a cat and the body of an alligator and ONE WITH THE HEAD OF AN ALLIGATOR AND THE BODY OF A RABBIT! There he was! But better still, the auction details were the "Rosetta Stone" that made everything fall into place: "figures labeled "Steven Mfg. 1972" - I had the manufacturer information and date! Success!
I didn't win that particular auction (surprisingly it ended at over $20 for only the two plastic figures!) but armed with the information presented, I began the proverbial Google search. Nothing. I contacted toy sites and antique sites. Nothing. Nothing until I contacted Steven Mfg. of Hermann Missouri.
I got through to two friendly ladies (who clearly thought I was crazy); Janet and Debbie.
I discovered that Steven Mfg. was initially producing normal plastic zoo and farm animals when a developer thought kids would love it if they were to offer toys of "mixed-up" animals. They didn't know the complete dates of the series' run, but the figures had been dated 1972. The figures were designed in Missouri but produced in China (Hong Kong to be precise.) They are solid plastic and about 2-3" tall. They were packaged in an assortment and titled "Mixed Up Zoo Animals" with the Item #1753. The ones I had discovered on eBay were indeed called the "Rabbigator" and "Catagator." Janet and Debbie did not know how many different figures were made, but they estimated 12-24.
Armed with this knowledge (and eBay) I have since identified the following figures:
Rabbagator (Rabbit body Alligator head)
Catagator (Cat head Alligator body)
Chickow (Chicken head Cow body)
Dachsheer (Dachshund body Deer head)
Giraphant (Giraffe head Elephant body)
Kangaboar (Kangaroo body Boar head)
Sealag (Seal body Eagle head)
Ostraphant (Ostrich body Elephant head)
Liolope (Lion head Antelope body)
Kittiorse (Kitten body Horse head)
And soon won an auction for a Catagator, Kittiorse, Dachsheer, and yes, my "Rosebud," a Rabbagator.
Portions of this entry have also been published at www.toynfo.com