MUFFIN THE MULE
The children's television program "Muffin the Mule" first aired in October 1946, only a few months after the televisopn service recommenced following World War II. It was presented by Annette Mills, whilst Ann Hogarth pulled Muffin's puppet strings. The series proved very popular, and continued until Annette Mill's death in 1955. Muffin the Mule was probably the first children's television program to spawn a range of sindicated childern's toys.
This particular toy was produced by E.V.B. Plastics of Surrey under the "Beeju" name and was used to display film strips with each frame wound on using a special key. Whilst the packaging states that this toy was copyrighted in 1948, this particular model must date from slightly later as it includeds a Sooty filmstrip - Sooty's first TV appearance was not until 1952.
The book "Muffin the Mule: commemorating 60 years of Muffin the Mule, with memories ..." by Adrienne Hasler references two instances of advertisments for this television; one advert is in Television Weekly dated 1st Dec 1950 - just in time for Christmas! - whilst another appears in TV Comic no. 17 dated 27th February 1952. It appears the toy cost 12/6d with each extra film costing 1/-.
Quite a few must have been sold as they turn up quite regularly today and can be found in various different colours.
But as a toy, I must admit I'm left un-impressed. To start with, there is a special holder that attaches to a 4½-volt "lamp" battery into which a bulb is screwed. The arrangement requires sub-millimeter positional accuracy, otherwise you simply end up shorting the two battery terminals together (in fact, if you follow the minimal instructions, that's exactly what you'd do !). Not that it matters too much, as even if you did get this bit set up you'd then need to insert the battery+holder+bulb into the back of the set ... made impossible as the combined assembly wont pass the on-off switch !
As for fitting the film, this is nigh-on impossible. The film is supposed to follow runners molded as part of the TV's cabinet, however they are so small that the film simply slips out at the first opertunity. I've tried. I've tried _real_ _hard_. Yet I can't get the damn thing to work. Interestingly, of the four films, one is broken and one looks like it was never used .. I guess the latter means the original owner also gave up like me !
I don't think much is being missed not displaying a real image - the images on the film strips are particularly crude. You shouldn't make allowances just because it's an old toy, to see what can be achieved see the J.L.Randall television viewer.
|CURRENT STATE||Complete except for the little shelf onto which the battery oughta fit (probably thrown away years ago as the battery doesn't quite fit even without the shelf, with the shelf in place you'd have zero-squared chance of getting the darn battery in !|
|WHERE FOUND||Off Fleabuy with three other toys for a total of £18.|
|1.||Beeju Plastic Toys : A range of other toys manufactured under the "Beeju" name.|
|2.||[Muffin the mule]|
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