Thrift Store Halloweekends – Barney Gumble, The Simpsons Spooky Light-Ups (Burger King)

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This week, we’re going to be looking at Barney Gumble from Burger King’s line of Simpsons Spooky Light-Ups from 2001. These toys were a premium given away with the purchase of a Burger King Kids Meal but I bought mine for $3 bucks at a garage sale.

The Simpsons and Halloween have been something of a package pair ever since the second season of the long-running animated sit-com. The Simpsons Halloween Specials (later renamed Treehouse of Horror) have, over the last 25 years, presented viewers with parodies and pastiches of classic and modern scary stories using the assorted citizens of Springfield. It’s something that gets forgotten in this day and age where adult-oriented cartoons are a dime a dozen… but the Simpsons take on Halloween was, in its’ beginnings, pretty damn subversive. These brutal “out of continuity” tales really messed with viewer’s expectations and I can remember some (Season 6’s Nightmare Cafeteria) genuinely putting some scares in me.

One strange thing about The Simpsons in terms of its’ marketing in the show’s later years – 20th Century Fox seems to be under the impression that small children are the show’s biggest fans, rather than aging thirty-somethings like yours truly. It’s strange how much they try to market The Simpsons to the youth market when the show… it’s really not for kids! I don’t let my sons watch The Simpsons with me! In 2001, FOX was doing a BIG ol’ push of The Simpsons on kids. Most notably, Playmates Toys did a huge line of toys based on the show which were a smash hit for the company. It was around that time these Burger King toys were offered.

These are unarticulated PVC figures, the majority of which have some kind of connection to previous installments of the Treehouse of Horror episodes. Each figure in the series has a light-up feature.

I should say that I already have a few of these Simpsons Light-Ups in my Halloween collection. They came out while I was in college and my then-girlfriend and I drove to Burger King a couple of times solely to get Simpsons toys. I have Maggie, Apu, Ned Flanders, Milhouse and Mr. Burns. I’ve been looking to add to my collection for awhile but quickly found reason to be disappointed.

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The toy comes in the standard packaging of most fast food premiums.

Upon taking Barney out of the bag, I paw through the contents.

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The toy comes with an instruction manual with a very fun drawing of The Simpsons recreating The Bride of Frankenstein.

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The Barney Gumble/Mummy is very well done. Although the bottom-half is yellowing with age, it’s a good representation of the character. It’s strange that Burger King would offer children a toy of an alcoholic loser like Barney but I’m sure no one thought too hard about that one.

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The base is also quite fun, getting across through sculpting that Barney’s costume is really just a bunch of toilet paper. Again, sort of funny that an idea like that was allowed to float in a toy designed for children… but I’m relatively sure Burger King knew adults were going to be hunting these down for their own collections.

Now, the real disappointment of this toy is that THERE’S A PIECE MISSING. The toy should come with a tombstone light to go along with the base. The idea is that you’d pull the lever and the tombstone lights up. Unfortunately this toy did not come with a tombstone! The package was sealed so it’s not as though someone was monkeying around with this for fun. I guess this was just a defective off the line that I ended up with.

I suppose it doesn’t matter all too much. After 15 years, I’d be truly surprised if the light-up mechanism still worked… but it is something of a bummer. I’m still going to set Barney up with his Simpsons kith and kin but that missing tombstone is going to gnaw at me for awhile.

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