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- Published April, 1999 -

A Very Brady Collection
by Bill Morgan

If you’re looking for something “far out” and “groovy” to add to your family of TV toys, nothing would be more appropriate than paraphernalia from TV’s “happening” family of the 1970s, The Brady Bunch.

Coloring and Activity BooksThis year marks the 30th anniversary of the time when “the lady met this fellow.” The six-sibling Brady clan was formed in the fall of 1969. Once considered the most embarrassing decade in history, the ’70s are cool again, and Brady mania is stronger than ever. With two theatrical movie releases under its belt, The Brady Bunch has collectors abroad scouring antique malls, racing through swap meets and setting auction house records for pieces of Bradybilia.

The show’s overwhelming popularity is quite remarkable considering it never made the Top 25 ratings during its original run. According to Nielsen Media Research, the highest rating came during the Brady’s third season, when it finished at No. 31. The Brady Bunch acquired most of its fame when its 117 episodes aired as reruns around the world after the show ended. Reruns continue, and the zany antics and life lessons of the Brady family still entertain old fans while gaining millions of new ones each year.

One of the first official memorabilia items marketed for The Brady Bunch is also the most elusive. Following Mattel’s successful marketing of Mrs. Beasley from Family Affair, Remco set out to duplicate that success by creating Cindy’s plastic playmate, Kitty Karry-All. The doll appeared on the show regularly, and even became the focal point of an episode titled “Kitty Karry-All is Missing.”Boys Toys by Larami

Unfortunately, the 20-inch vinyl doll didn’t make a big splash with consumers, but things have changed since 1969. Today Kitty Karry-All is in high demand, and collectors have been frustrated because only a few have surfaced in recent years. Desirability and rarity is a combination that can only result in high prices. When Remco’s doll does turn up, it sells for about $200 without the original packaging. Finding a boxed doll is an extremely rare find and would command a whole “Bunch” more.

A Kitty Karry-All contemporary is the Brady Bunch lunch box produced by King-Seeley Thermos. This is another highly sought after item, and is considered by many to be the heart of the collection. The metal box and matching thermos are decorated with illustrations based on actual episodes. While the front of the box clearly illustrates the pilot episode when Mike and Carol get married, the back of the box shows the Bradys on a camping trip (episode 12). The sides of the box show a house divided, with the Brady boys refusing to let the Brady girls in their tree house (episode 2). The lunch box is generally worth more than other TV companion boxes made during this era, and sells for up to $275 when the metal thermos is included.

Although the lunch box depicts actual scenes from the series, it is unusual to find such illustrations and detail on other TV memorabilia. Some manufacturers merely paste cast pictures on their products, relying on the show’s familiar faces to spark sales. This is notable on Brady merchandise produced by the Larami Corporation. Larami acquired licensing rights from Paramount Pictures in 1973, took one photo and one illustration of the Brady family and created dozens of items. Toys include everything from banjos to plastic dominos, all marketed as “official” Brady merchandise.Brady Bunch Toys by Larami

Several interesting items came from this venture, including four different Outdoor Fun Sets, a Pistol Ping Pong game, a Hand Tambourine, Mosaic Set, Chess and Checkers, Fishin’ Fun Set, Hex-a-Game, a paddle ball and bubbles set, toy groceries and five tricky metal puzzles packaged as Brain Twisters. Although each item has little to do with the show, many are difficult to find and are coveted by Brady fanatics. Some of these items, such as the Fishin’ Fun Set and Hex-a-Game, have turned up frequently in the past few years, selling in the $20-$40 range. Other items, such as the Pistol Ping Pong game, paddle ball with bubbles set and Mosaic Set are a rare find, prompting dealers to ask nearly $100 each.

Whitman Publishing was another heavy contributor to The Brady Bunch collection. Among the items it produced were an activity book, four coloring books, a frame-tray puzzle, two paper doll booklets, three boxes of paper dolls, a magic slate and a sticker book. Today each of the coloring and activity books is valued in the $20-$40 range, while the other items are worth more than $50. Whitman entered a more dimensional domain when it produced the highly sought after Brady Bunch Game. Packaged in an 11 x 14-inch box, the board game focuses on a family camping trip. The object is to be the first player to pick up, pack up, and pitch a tent. Expect to pay in the neighborhood of $150-$200 for this ’70s camping experience.The Brady Bunch released 5 albums and 13 singles!

A variety of other unique items made during the Bradys’ five-year stint on ABC-TV add more interest to the collection. While The Brady Bunch may not be best remembered as a musical group, the family did manage to record five albums. Today the duo album by Maureen McCormick (Marcia) and Chris Knight (Peter) is the most scarce, and is worth about $150. Other unusual items include a comic book giving tips on safe kite flying that was distributed by the Electric Company, and a 12-piece European cigar band set. If you think Joe Camel isn’t politically correct, consider the complexities of a cigar wrapped with a Cindy Brady band!

The Brady Bunch
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From the publication Collecting Magazine

Bill Morgan is the co-author of
Collector’s Guide to TV Toys and Memorabilia — 2nd Edition and runs the TVTOYS.com web site.
Copyright (c) TVTOYS.com, Odyssey Publications.  All Rights Reserved.

 

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