Saturday, September 30, 2006

Burger King's Magician? (circa 1973)

It's really fun finding things, thinking they might be "something" and trying to identify them and perhaps recapture some lost memories.

This yellow plastic motorcycle toy had been around the house since childhood. It has a gyro wheel and should have a zip cord to make it go. The character seemed vaguely familiar, enough so to make me think it was not just a generic toy. I had been wondering for several years who it was.

There's a crown on the side of the bike and a bearded man at the wheel with a long nose and double pointed hat. His long beard runs down the side of his arm to his back, like it's blowing in the wind as he rides.

I have another similar cycle of Simon the kangaroo from Quangaroos Cereal, made in the early 1970s. Possibly related, I thought mine might be King Vitaman, another Quaker cereal character back then. Here's the Quangaroo.

Well the design, size and material are similar, so I assumed at least that these were made by the same company and that mine was likely from the early 1970s, too. At the time, that was the best I could do.

The proverbial fog started to lift on September 1, when I saw this amazing vintage fast food prize on Neato Coolville's blog. Todd turned up one of the coolest items I had never seen. This is the old cartoon King from Burger King, and he's riding his Royal Motorcycle! Needless to say, I need to get myself one of those!

[The cartoon King represented Burger King from about 1972-1976. More about him on a future blog post. ]

I started to see the similarities with mine -- same crown on the side, same wheel spokes and same headlight. So I was thrilled to assume that mine was also from Burger King, but a different character. A character who I did not remember. Mine was clearly not the King.

From that point, the quest continued. Sadly, very little information was available about the cartoon King, and certainly nothing about any secondary characters in that BK ad campaign.

Finally, I found this vintage Burger King commercial with the cartoon King, circa 1973, on YouTube! (Click to play the commercial within this page.)

In the commercial, we see a man with a long beard, long nose and double pointed fast food employee hat. He's working the counter at Burger King. The King himself identifies the man as "my former Magician"!

I feel pretty certain now that my motorcycle is indeed the Magician from Burger King, an obscure secondary character, who may be a little less obscure now.

Thanks to Todd at Neato Coolville and whoever found and posted that glorious commercial to YouTube, finally I think the mystery is solved!

Please post comments to let me know if you think I've got this right, and if you know any more information about this Magician or perhaps other motorcycles given away in this Burger King promotion.

Hopefully more vintage Burger King commercials and toys will surface to reveal more.


  1. Great detective work! When I first saw the motorcycle photo I was thinking he might be a hillbilly type of character. No doubt in my mind after watching the commercial that he's the magician! Now we'll need to keep a look out to see if there were anymore in the set!

  2. Thanks for the reply and confirmation about the Magician. It's always good to get a second opinion. Let's hope some more of these motorcycles and Burger King commercials start to surface!

  3. Great blog! I can't wait to see more stuff. You brought back a lot of memories!

  4. Hey, thanks Jeff. I'm having a lot of fun with this. I hope to post something new every few weeks, so keep checking back.

  5. Thanks, BooBerry Bill. Great name, by the way! I plan to get back into blogging mode again very soon. Stay tuned...

  6. My name is Toren - I put on annual Saturday Morning Cartoon Parties and I am having a hell of a time tracking down Booberry and Frankenberry. It's not distributed in Canada and eBayers don't seem to want to ship here either. Can anyone here help a fellow cereal afficionado out? I gots favours! - thanks!

  7. These are great pieces of ephemera. Nice collection. I'd like to interview you for the ephemera blog...send me an email if you're interested. This area of collecting is of great interest.

  8. LOVE the BK ad characters and stuff from the late '60s and '70s. The time line seems to be a little confusing, though: when did the chubby little cartoon king begin and end? When did the human "disco" king begin and end?

    Judging by merch and commercials on your tube, I think the cartoon king's reign was about '68 -'74.

    No king was in the kingdom until about '77, when "disco" king took the throne. His rule lasted until '82 via commercials, but then had a more Castro-like existence until '85, via merchandise.

    Then, BK went into "Herb" and all that.

    I think the first two kings were the best ad characters BK has ever done. I like the revival of the King, but it's of course not exactly the same!

    Thanks for these posts - they're ggggggreeat!

  9. Hi Ron. I've based my dates on whatever information I could find, mainly collectibles that I have. For the Cartoon King, I have items dated 1972 through 1974, and Human King dated 1977 through about 1982. Cartoon King may have been around before 1972, but I don't know yet. Hopefully that information will surface.

    By the way, there was yet ANOTHER King used at Burger King in the 1960s before the chubby Cartoon King.

  10. We have definate magicians, no maybes here.

  11. cute commercial- love it! Yep, you solved the mystery!


[:::] Thanks for visiting my blog. Older articles can be found in my Blog Archive.