Sometimes synergy works. Parker Bros. was a separate brand for quite some time, even when it was together with Kenner before the two were gobbled up with Tonka by Hasbro. Years before any of that happened, the Q*Bert Flying Disc was released in a pretty big push for video game ephemera, for children, from arcades, in the early 1980s. Characters from Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Q*Bert, and other classics would find themselves on television, on cereal boxes, and in toy stores because video games came a long way fast in that era. In an era with no smart phones, you had to put a quarter in a 6-foot 150-pound obelisk to make an orange character hop and not die, inevitably cursing as a snake chases you off the ledge of a pyramid. Unless, of course, you hopped on a brightly-colored disc. This toy represents that leap to safety.
I've had this toy since it was new, and you can see some paint wear on the painted disc and maybe even a crack between the green and the red. The toy came bagged with a header card - unusual, even at the time - with a hard plastic disc and a soft roto vinyl Q*Bert in the middle. You can remove the orange action star, who stands about as tall as a LEGO minifigure or a M.U.S.C.L.E. man. The figure has painted eyes and is charmingly squishy. A base screws in to the donut-shaped frisbee-esque disc, more or less replicating the tiny pixel disc from the Gottlieb game. The pattern is backward, but the color order matches the game nicely.
You can throw it or play catch with it, and the figure is removable for added play. It's neat. It's fun. You would've loved this if you were four or five years old - Q*Bert looks a little less droopy than his in-game counterpart, vaguely resembling the cartoon version in some respects. Don't look that up. You won't like what you see.
Licensed character products from the late 1970s and early 1980s are fascinating, mostly because they're usually a bit of a tangent from what we would know the franchise would become. This particular Q*Bert is one of very few items that seems like a timeless recreation of the in-game character, minus the contemporary weirdness of a letterman jacket or sneakers. The figure has a weird bumpy texture that isn't quite as fuzzy as he would appear elsewhere, but I can't deny having it in my hand again reminds me the fun I would have throwing it to myself because I was and am an only child. This is a great example of extrapolating a video game concept into a solid toy. Not everything transitions so smoothly, so kudos to Parker Bros. for doing a good job with this durable figure and disc set.
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