Elmer (or Elton or Edward) Elephant

I’ve been trying to list all the toys I had as a little kid. The more I think, the more toys I come up with. Most of these toys are just vague memories. I don’t recall the toy name or details; I just (barely) recall its image. A few days ago, I recalled the image of a little figure with a human body and an elephant head. I thought this toy might have been a Lego product, but I wasn’t sure. I also thought it might have been a cereal or Happy Meal premium, but I wasn’t sure about that, either. I wasn’t even sure it was real; I thought I might have just made it up. I was only sure that it was somewhat sad. The image I had in my head was not just of a elephant-headed man but of a sad elephant-headed man, an elephant-headed man who hung his elephant head.

I have tried several times to find the toy this image belongs to, tried and failed. But now I have finally found it. After a few hours of hard Google Images-ing (and I do mean hard; do you know how hard it is to search for a picture when you have no specifics?), I was rewarded with a name: Elmer Elephant.

Elmer was a figure in the Lego Fabuland line (so I was right about the Lego part), a line designed for younger children, being sort of a cross between Lego and Duplo. The key element of this line was anthropomorphic animal figures, animals with human bodies (or humans with animal heads, whichever way you want to look at it). There were dozens of these figures: several dogs, a cat, a squirrel, etc. But the one I had and remembered was Elmer. Elmer came in a very small pack. This pack contained just him, a broom, and a shovel. It was small and cheap, which means Mom probably bought it as a “shut-up” toy while we were in line at some department store (and which is probably why I thought it was a Happy Meal premium).

Now the Fabuland line was supposed to be bright and magical. Elmer, though, is anything but. I ask you: is this not a unhappy elephant? Look at those dark soulful eyes with the two white spots. They are supposed to be a pupil and a reflection, but doesn’t that lower one (the reflection) resemeble a tear? And while all the other Fabuland creatures are smiling, Elmer is not (well, maybe he is, but if so, his trunk is in the way). And what’s up with the tools? The poor guy is being put to work. Being put to work right out of the box. No boat for Elmer, no car, no house. Just a shovel and broom. Some unknown person has consigned Elmer to a life of manual labor. The poor guy is being pushed so hard that he actually holds one implement in each hand, doing both tasks at the same time. Elmer stands as the most depressed and oppressed toy in Lego history.

Now Elmer had some relatives. There was Elton Elephant (the Elmer mold with a red shirt). Does he have a shovel and broom? No, he has a shade umbrella and patio furniture. He’s not working; he’s relaxing. There was also Edward Elepahnt (the Elmer mold with different eyes and a more detailed shirt; also sometimes with a yellow hat). He got to go to the theater and the fun park.

But my heart remains with the one my Mom bought to shut me up, the poor, hard-working, hard-pressed elephant, the sad and soulful Elmer.

Doug

Doug is a child of the 80s who was raised in Ohio and is now living the life of oblivion in the bay area of California.

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