Andy Capp Talcum Powder?

By | Friday, November 04, 2022 Leave a Comment
While I was decorating my comic library, I made a conscious decision to include representation from a range of comics, not just the superhero stuff which is most commonly available. I tracked down a wall decal of Asterix and Obelisk, and I made my own of Little Nemo and Flip. I've got statues of characters from One Piece, Lucky Luke, and Fairy Quest. I've got Phoney Bone and Bob the Squirrel plushies. I've got a Judge's badge replica on my desk and a Crogan's Adventures prop knife on a bookshelf.

And at some point, I realized that I'd like to have something to represent a British comic strip. The Judge's badge brings a little English flavor to the room, but I wanted to try to balance out the drama representation with something light-hearted. Since Andy Capp is something of an old favorite of mine, I thought some kind of Andy Capp figure would be great!

Turns out there's not much commercially available, though. I had actually written to creator Reg Smythe about this when I was a kid, and he graciously wrote back noting there weren't as many licensing opportunities available as other comic strip characters, but maybe if he changed Andy's design a bit to include four legs and a tail... There have been a few items over the years, and indeed one pretty good three-dimensional representation of Andy.

I believe I first saw an image of the figure online as a background to a blog post or something. I didn't know what exactly it was, but it gave me something to look for. Eventually, I did start piecing together some information on it.

Turns out that it's not really a statue at all. It's a 9" tall, vinyl bottle for talcum powder produced by Avon (the cosmetics people) in 1969. The figure's body is hollow, and the head pulls off. Despite a fairly minimal paint job, it works pretty well; and most of the figures I've seen appear to have held up rather well. They were originally only sold in Britain, so Americans almost have to find one online and have it shipped overseas, but most of the ones I saw fell in the $15-$20 range and shipping didn't seem prohibitively expensive. With the head on fully, it's function as a talcum powder bottle is all but impossible to detect, and it ultimately makes for an excellent display figure to rest on your shelf.

Now, why Avon opted to license Andy Capp to sell talcum powder, I can't say. The character had been around for a little over a decade at that point, but I don't know that he was that popular. And who exactly was the target market here? Surely not kids -- what kid is that interested in talcum powder? And how many adults who might want to use talcum powder would be interested in having it displayed via Andy Capp on their bathroom vanity?

The production, as far as I can tell, was limited to 1969 only. So it doesn't appear to have sold that well. (No real surprise there.) That also might explain why so many that are still around seem to be in excellent condition.

Its a great, little piece that I'm happy to have in my library, but it raises more questions than I'm prepared to try to track down the answers for.
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