black t shirt
I remember seeing early cartoons growing up and being puzzled by Betty Boop. Why was she so popular? She’s black & white and her voice is funny. As I got older and began to understand what “sex appeal” was, it made a little more sense. After all Betty Boop is voluptuous and knows it. Her outfits are designed to show off cleavage. In fact, she appeared topless (except for a lei) in one cartoon. Pretty hot stuff, eh?
Well, it certainly was decidedly hot stuff for 1932. Until that point in time, cartoons had been, for the most part, tame. Betty, with her curves and her big eyes set a different tone. Other female cartoon characters, Olive Oyl and Minnie Mouse most notably, were practically stick figures. So is it any wonder that males, on the screen and off, were gaga about her?
The cartoon had a resurgence in the 1980s, which probably explains some of the appeal that today’s collectors have for the figurines. In the early 80s it seemed like she was everywhere — on bags and belts, towels and t-shirts, and as figurines.
The figurine possibilities are massive. There are hundreds of different Betty Boop figurines. One of the most popular lines is the Calendar Girl collection. You can find them, new and used, on Amazon. They are reasonably priced at (usually) $15. There are some limited edition figurines out there and I bet, with the 80th anniversary coming up, that there will be a whole bevy of special figurines to mark the occasion.
The figurines are a popular gift for women named “Betty”, so some of the collectors I know seemed to have become collectors almost in self defense! It is funny to imagine, but it is true. One woman I know (and yes, her name is Betty) has what she calls her “Room of Boop” to hold all of the items.
Betty Boop figurines illustrate a seminal aspect of figurine collecting — we own a piece of history when we own a figurine. She’s a piece of American film history and she lives in your house. It is a pretty cool thing, when you think about it.
One word of caution for beginners (or people looking for gifts for women named Betty): there are many inferior Betty Boop items out there. Be careful when you are buying online. Read the reviews. Check out the Boop forums and make sure that the manufacturer is known for quality. So many figurines are produced overseas, you need to make sure that you are not getting some badly painted, miscast figurine for your money. Now, go out and grab a piece of pure Americana, and while you are at it, watch the cartoons!
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write by Emery