Baby Bimbo marionette (Pelham Puppets)

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Exhibit

Baby Bimbo marionette (Pelham Puppets)

BTMM map 055.gif
location:
Arch Two , Area 55
Puppet Theatres (display)

A 'Baby Bimbo' Clown Marionette made by Pelham Puppets.

The Baby Bimbo design was short lived, only running from 1955 until the Pelham factory fire of 1961, when the moulds were presumably destroyed and production was discontinued.

History

The Bimbo design is an important piece of Pelham Puppets history. The design started in 1953 with a special "one of a kind" 7-foot marionette called "Gingo", who was created purely as a display attraction for the Harrod's toy department during the Christmas season. Gingo received so much positive attention that he was brought to the British Industries Fair in May 1954 as a decorative prop. But Bob Pelham underestimated just how popular he would be! Gingo so captivated audiences that there were 30 orders were placed for similar models.

Gingo had a fundamental change at the next year's Toy Fair - he was dressed in one of Bob's black tailcoats, an embroidered waistcoat and a pair of black and white checked trousers, and was now going by the name of "Bimbo".

A Bimbo marionette was used as an animated display in a shop window in Bournemouth during the summer of 1954 to great success. Bimbo's animated movement was so appealing that a crowd gathered outside the shop to watch him, and it got so big that the police had to ask the shop manager to turn the display off for causing a distraction.

During the British Industries Fair in 1956, Bob Pelham tweaked Bimbo's design yet again. Instead of being animated to look like he was dancing Bimbo was stringed like a an actual marionette allowing Bob to operate him from behind a partition, so that he was fully articulated and able to interact with passers by, the addition of speakers in his mouth allowed it to appear that he was speaking, or singing when connected to a gramophone, always a bit mischievous Bob happily recounted,

" You should have seen people jump when he suddenly leaned forward and said, 'Ha! Ha! Ha! You didn't think I could talk did you?' Then his eyes would blink - he could wink, too, as his eye were controlled independently "

The launch of Baby Bimbo

Bob Pelham explained why he created the Baby Bimbo marionette in a 1956 appearance on Panorama, pointing out that the design was so loved from promotional experiences that there was a huge demand for the character, and thus the "Baby Bimbo" was born, much cheaper to buy and actually easily operateable by children (who were the primary consumers of Pelham Puppets), something that the seven-foot display pieces could certainly never manage.