Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Elsewhere: Popeye Parker Brothers TV Commercial

This is one of those crazy 1980s licensing chains -- Nintendo (which, rumor has it, had wanted the character for the game that became Donkey Kong) finally licensed E.C. Segar's Popeye from King Features and created a successful arcade game.  Parker Brothers then licensed the home rights, paying royalties to both companies, and released versions for almost all of the then-current videogame consoles and home computers (Nintendo later released its own version for the NES.)

Parker Brothers' television commercials featured the Colecovision version of the game; I don't even remember seeing this TV ad back in the day, and I'm going to include two versions here, both uploaded to YouTube by DigThatBoxRETRO.  The American version survives from a poor-quality home VCR recording, but you can get the general gist of it:

This French version is, y'know, in French, but features MUCH better video quality:

I like the ad's use of the animated characters -- after all, if Popeye won't play his own game, why should you?  And the subtle mixture of animated characters and live action props and sets works well.

Mostly, I find the look of Bluto/Brutus interesting -- he doesn't look like he did in the original Thimble Theatre comic strips and Max Fleischer cartoons, nor is he the redesigned and simplified version from the Paramount cartoons (the design used for the Nintendo game).  Instead, this character design seems to be drawn from the King Features newspaper comic strips and Charlton comic books -- as you can see, his scraggly beard is rather difficult to animate, so this might be the only cartoon appearance of this version of the character.

Yes, I am a total geek.

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