1960s Mr. Potato Head Products(Click item for photo and more information)
The relationship between Mr. Potato Head’s plastic face parts and real vegetables continued for 12 years. The produce world was finally saved when Hasbro gave the Potato Head family their own heads that didn’t come from the grocery store. Beginning in 1964, brown plastic potato heads with predrilled holes were included in all Mr. Potato Head sets.
One of the reasons for the change were the sharp points on the face pieces. Government regulations forced Hasbro to round off the points, and they just didn’t puncture food very well after that. Some people thought that the creativity factor would be lost because you could only put the pieces in predetermined places on the head. But what may have been lost in creativity was regained in the form of an expanded line of Mr. Potato Head playsets!
Along with the release of the plastic heads of 1964, came a new variety of play sets and friends for Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head. This new “Tooty Frooty Friends” line included Oscar Orange, Pete the Pepper, Cooky the Cucumber, and Katie Carrot. Each was sold separately and included a potato head, the appropriate “friends” head, and parts needed to make the two characters. A couple of years later, the less popular and quite bizarre “Picnic Pals” were released. Joining Mr. Potato Head in these sets were new friends such as Frenchy Fry, Mr. Soda Pop Head, Mr. Mustard Head, Willy Burger, Franky Frank, and Mr. Ketchup head. They included ketchup and mustard colored parts, plus all new face pieces in the shapes of pickles and onions! All of these above mentioned characters were packaged in various styles of boxes and combination sets throughout the 1960’s.
In addition to new faces on Mr. Potato Head boxes, there was a new logo for the 1960s. This new Potato Head logo, separate from the Hasbro logo, featured a fat, cane carrying Mr. Potato Head with his name on his chest. But the addition of new friends for Mr. Potato Head was just the beginning of Mr. Potato Head’s new world! New sets allowed Mr. Potato Head to built a railroad, have a parade, hold masquerade balls, build a circus, a farm, and even a wild west town! And as if that wasn’t enough, Mr. Potato Head even found time to explore for extraterrestrial life on the moon!
Although those sets were successful for the Potato Head family, Hasbro seemed to be noticing a new trend between kids and toys. In the later 1960's, children seemed to want toys that "did stuff". That is, they wanted toys with action. Hasbro wasn't about to overlook this fact, but they also weren't going to abandon Mr. Potato Head in the process. In 1966, Mr. Potato Head became Jumpin' Mr. Potato Head! With a slightly larger body and a windup mechanism, he could self-propel himself through several activities, including fishing, using a jackhammer, flying his kite, or just plain jumping for joy! Mrs. Potato Head also became a mover and a shaker. But it was apparent that she still hadn't been totally liberated. Her Jumpin' set was dominated with chore related items such as a duster, floor cleaner and dinner bell.
Now don't think that the popularity of Mr. Potato Head playsets up to this point went unnoticed in the toy industry. In the 1960's, some well established popular children's characters of the day joined him in his success. Donald Duck and Bozo the Clown both joined the spud with their own Potato Head playsets. Dunkin Donuts even jumped on the band wagon and released a special edition Mr. Donut Head in 1969. All of these rare combination playsets remain very popular with collectors today!
From the photos in this section and the rest of this site, it is apparent that Hasbro wasn’t too loyal to one style Mr. Potato Head packaging. They often changed the graphics or style of a package to keep up with the times. This trend even continues today in Mr. Potato Head sets. A collector must decide if he wants to collect one of each set, or one of each box! I know that even though I have many, many Mr. Potato Heads in my collection, I still continue to uncover different and unique packaging for something that I already have!
(*** indicates sets that were meant for real
fruit, even after the introduction of plastic heads in 1964)