Friday, January 28, 2011

R and L Premiums

At a weekend toy show recently, I found a whole heap of...well, very odd things. These little plastic characters, between 1 and 1 1/2 inches tall, were cereal premiums (and sometimes Cracker Jack prizes) made in the late 1960s and 1970s by an Australian company called R & L. The tiny toys were found in packages of Kellogg's cereal worldwide, although there were some country exclusives. In the late '70s, the company was sold and the owners moved the plant to Mexico, where production continued in a range of new, brighter colors.


There were many different sets of odd and imaginative characters produced by R & L, often with spacey, alien themes, and each with individual names. Fanatical collectors strive to get them all, sometimes in every color combination possible.

These, the Crater Critters, are some of my favorites. The original cereal box promotion read: "Here are the cutest creatures you have ever collected -- Kellogg's 'Crater Critters." Normally they live way down in the deepest craters on a far off planet. They are shy little people, that's why we hardly ever see them."
Click here to see an original cereal box ad for the Crater Critters. 


My favorite so far is called Gloob; 
I have him (her?) in orange and purple:


Next are the AstroNits: "Round and round they go in lunar orbit, in their rockets and flying saucers, the mad, crazy Kellogg's 'Astro-Nits.' With retro rockets firing they zoom into Earth orbit to land on your breakfast table. So you can recognize them we have stamped a dotty name on every one of them." Some of the AstroNits shown below include Knot-Nit, Clown-Nit, Goof-Nit, and Yak-Nit.


My favorite is Goof-Nit:


Then there are the Funny Fringes: "Way out fun creatures from a make-believe land on the fringe of outer space." They all have names ending in "inge."


Here are some of my favorites:

Spinge and Fringe.

Sniffinge, Puddinge, and Nuttinge.

These are the far-out Toolie Birds: bird figures with tool-shaped beaks:


One of my favorite R & L lines comprises the Stretch Pets, funny animals with accordion bodies. These, and one of the Funny Fringes, I actually remember from childhood:


Collecting R & L premiums can be both a lot of fun (finding figures in cases full of unrelated items at shows) and a lot of frustration (trying to get that elusive last Crater Critter to complete your set), but regardless, they bring a smile to my face every time I look at them.

Collector Mike Speth has written a great guide to these toys, "Collecting Crazy Colored Plastic Weird-Things," that appeared in issue #12 of Freakie Magnet, a cereal collector's zine. It can also be read online, and is chock-full of photos and helpful info. The company history, figure identifications, cereal box quotations, and original ad linked above were all found at his site. Go check it out!

10 comments:

  1. these are insane!! love their little stories too. wish they were inside my Flax whole grain cereal.. sigh.

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  2. Aren't they great? I just love them. I've found a few more since I posted these; I'll have to list them soon.

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  3. $280 worth of r&l cereal premiums in picture 2 -- these things are worth a small fortune these days-- and getting even harder to find I have finally got a set of UFO'S from R&L I have been casually looking for for over 5 years--

    great memories from our childhood - guess that is why people like them so much--

    jamesbennett182@hotmail.com

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  4. Hi James! Always good to meet another R&L collector!

    I've gotten quite a few more since this post, which I've yet to add to the blog: the rest of the Crater Critters, including a Kooky with hat; more Stretch Pets; and the Veggie Sports; and I've got Camel Trains and Totems coming. I'll have to try and get them posted soon.

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  5. Tracy

    you can see my very humble little collection of R&L here, -
    http://www.simplesite.com/jamesbennett/

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  6. Hi! I enjoyed seeing your "little collection!" The cereal boxes in particular were wonderful.

    I've just gotten some more R&L today, all the way from Australia. Camel Trains and Totems. Will try to post more R&L soon...and I still haven't gottne the Veggie Sports or my new Kooky Critter with hat posted...too many toys, too little time.

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  7. Hi Tracy... I came across your blog & thought I'd say hi. I am a modest collector of these wonderful little toys, with fond memories of getting them when they first came out in breakfast cereal.
    If you haven't already seen it, I have a web site here: http://home.iprimus.com.au/gking/cerealtoys.htm

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  8. Hi there, thanks for visiting! I have loads more R & L to post...just have to find the time! I will check out your site asap!

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  9. As a kid (I'm 51 now) I had the round orange crater critter with the upside down face, three times in a row!! I hated it because I always got the same one. Just wanted to let you know that that round one was a two piece figure. It had a little plastic black "top hat" inserted in a hole at the top of the head.

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    1. thanks! since my original post, i've found one with the hat. he's a cutie.

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