Saturday, June 5, 2010

More than you ever needed to know about: Kopeefun

I am kind of obsessed with seeing how packaging changes over time while a product stays, for the most part, exactly the same. I'll file that one away in the "things I probably shouldn't bring up on a first date" department, but nevertheless, it's really interesting to see the color, type and style of the time reflected in newer and newer incarnations of the same thing.

Today at the flea market I found a pretty interesting thing. It appealed to a number of my interests, and that's always a bonus. It's "Kopeefun," a kit that provides the tools necessary to make your very own surely-hilarious cartoons (the tools being, essentially, a sad little popsicle stick and some elbow grease) by transferring existing newspaper headlines and cartoons into new ones.

Sounds exhilarating, I know. But I, admittedly, spent many an afternoon in my younger days doing crayon rubbings of anything that had any sort of texture at all, so I know how it goes.

Anyway, in going home and doing a little bit of research on Kopeefun, I was, naturally, delighted to find earlier and later versions. I thought I'd share!

The first one I could find is from 1935. While the sweater-and-tie combo sure is a cute one, this is the only time I spotted this illustration, or any of these design elements, really. I'm especially partial to the cursive "Kopeefun" across the top.

Original is here.

This one is also from 1935, but is very different than it's predecessor. It takes some liberties with the way that the letter "U" typically goes, and how happy families with one adopted red-headed attention-seeking child are. Despite all that, Kopeefun will shut your kids up for a second, so that's a bonus.

Original is here.

I am not positive that this is the same thing because the art is so different from all the others, but nevertheless, this example from 1938 is terribly adorable.

Original is here.

The next is mine, from 1940. While the previous appear to merely be the necessary tools ("magic paper" and a popsicle stick), my kit has a package of "magic paper" sheets, an idea book, a scrapbook for your finest and most funny, as well as some loose sheets of comical scenes where you were supposed to rub at it for awhile until it got funny. "Just rub" is dang-near as prominent as "Kopeefun".
kopeefun

This set from 1948 advertises the "new"-ness of a product that had been around for at least thirteen years. In an ad I found from the early 1960s, it boasted that Kopeefun was "ALWAYS new". So, I guess it because new newspapers that you could copy came out every day, and not that superior popsicle stick technology had come to surface.

Original is here.

Totally 1952. I notice that they use Comic Sans' older-yet-still-related brother Balloon Bold, bid farewell to that art deco-style type, and that twenty-year-old family suddenly feels so modern.

Original is here.

This one is from 1963, and feels more "as seen in the back of your comic book" to me -- like something you mailed away for. I haven't even mentioned how weird a name like "Kopeefun" is, but I guess it's a given. "Kopeefun". I'm probably going to have the FBI show up on my doorstep tomorrow morning based on how many times I've Googled that today.

Original is here.

This version from 1965 seems to go back to simplier times (two bullet points, really?), but that extended, all-lowercase typeface on "kopeefun" is undeniably 1960s. Less hand-lettering, more... canned.

Original is here.

I wish I could find a better photo of this 1966 set!* If you look closely, you can see that our favorite aging family is still alive, well, and apparently on some kind of human growth hormone regimen. However, unlike previous versions, it features a real photo of kids using the product, as I've noticed many other games from the time period do.

Original is here.

The last one I could find is from 1972. While the printing quality has surely improved and far more colors are being used on the box, it's basically still just a regurgitation of design elements from the previous decades. In looking at the "magic paper" replacements on the left, you can see the early 1970s influence (I spy with my little font-loving eye something that looks like Helll-vetttt-ticaaa!) and a new cartoon-y kid.

Original is here.And then, you know, photocopiers happened.


*UPDATE, October 2015: You know, sometimes you make a wish, five years go by, and the wish comes true. The world works in mysterious ways. Last month I got an email from Patty, who shared with me her copy of the 1966 Kopeefun. And it's her copy because THAT PERFECT-HAIRED CLOWN-MAKING GIRL ON THE BOX IS HER. She said that her dad worked at Embree Manufacturing in Elizabeth, New Jersey, the wizards behind Kopeefun. She was about five years old. I asked her if she remembered anything about seeing the box for the first time. She said, "I don't remember how I felt when I first saw the game, but I do remember being in the game and toy department in the store and showing other kids that it was me on the box! My 15 mins of fame!" Unfortunately, it was her only box appearance, but not because she wasn't dang-adorable! Thanks for reaching out and sharing your story, Patty. Now Internet, can we solve the four year old mystery of the Bad Pipsisewah?! Email me! susannatron@gmail.com.


3 comments:

  1. Wow. That's an awesome post.
    And to put your mind at ease. The art from the 1938 package (which you're not sure about) can be seen in the margins of the 1935 package.

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  2. Awesome! I didn't even notice that. Now I need to know why it changed so drastically, then changed right back.

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