There is nothing quite like the 22-minute commercial to remind us that the 1980s were a simpler time, capable of luring the impressionable ones in with bright colors, music, and the promise that what you see on screens is also on the shelves at your local toy store.
Of course, I’m well aware that you didn’t come here to read about the problems with 1980s children’s programming, you came here for fancy pictures and videos. I promise, this isn’t some tirade about how great kid vid/children’s television before the Children’s Television Act. Rather, this is a story of personal nostalgia, combined with a form of storytelling I haven’t done in a while on Allison’s Written Words.
We’ll get to that part, but first…how about a little personal nostalgia?
When I was about three or four years old, I got a Puffalump. It was a squishy bunny made from parachute material, with a squishy filling that made it super cuddly. I know I loved that Puffalump. About a year after that, a new line of Puffalumps came in to cash in on the mid-1980s need for neon and flashiness.
In fact, they were WILD!, so they were called The Wild Puffalumps!
Cartoons were quick to promote their offerings via television shows kids watched, so Fisher Price probably said, “we could totally cash in on the love for Puffalumps – and our newest, neon-colored Puffalumps – by making a cartoon to promote them!”
In 1987, Nelvana (they of the Care Bears and those two Cricket cartoons I celebrated 1000 blog posts by watching) took the Puffalumps’ neon cousins and created a 22-minute commercial – er, cartoon – to promote them. Of course, their discontinuation within the same year meant it was all for naught, but the cartoon still existed anyway.
Oh, and I owned a VHS copy of it.
It came with stickers!
I’m pretty sure these were better than an actual Wild Puffalump. Lord knows what I did with those stickers!
Anyway, I haven’t done a recap in a while, so I figured why not induce glazed-over eyes wrapped up in a recap about a 22-minute commercial?
It’s about two kids, the animals they meet (which were surprisingly not made from parachute and poly-fil), sunglasses, and the overuse of a certain word.
Just hang in there, it is really isn’t as bad as it sounds.
Friends, for your consideration, the 1987 commercial disguised as a cartoon, The Wild Puffalumps!
I swear, the recap starts now, I promise!
Meet siblings Holly and Kevin. They’re moving into a new house, complete with a new room for each kid.
Kevin’s room has an attic entrance (which Holly thinks is a closet, and nothing to be excited about).
Naturally, they have to explore what lies beyond a staircase and a mystery trap door.
The attic has all kinds of stuff left over from the previous owners, which may be junk to some, but to Holly and Kevin, it is treasure.
The two take to exploring the left behind treasures, including a photo album of a mustachoied man, and his adventures, including a black-and-white photo of the man with a bunch of animals wearing shirts and sunglasses.
Holly thinks the animals look funny, especially their sunglasses (because there is a world, however fictional, that this would be considered “normal”). A map falls out of the album, and naturally, they have to explore where the map leads them.
Holly and Kevin go beyond their new house and into the woods, sliding down hills and taking a rowboat on a lake. The lake, however, has clouds on it, and the kids wind up in the middle of it, unable to see where they are going. They want to go back, but they can’t find their way.
And that’s when the toy advertisement – I mean, adventure – really begins!
The clouds/fog lifts, but Holly and Kevin find themselves (and their rowboat) on top of a whale, headed towards an island. And just as they’re almost to the island, they spot someone wind-surfing in the same waters.
It kinda looks like a tiger, but Holly reasons that this cannot possibly be a tiger, since tigers don’t wind-surf, right?
Well, again, in some world, they do!
Oh, and a monkey can’t scuba dive, nor can a rhino and a panda toss a ball back and forth in the water, right?
The kids figure out that the animals look like the ones in the pictures they found in their attic. This place, according to Kevin, is really wild.
The whale disposes of their rowboat, sending them on a spout of water to the shore, where they are greeted by…a Toucan?
More specifically, a Wild Toucan Puffalump…if you please.
Kevin asks “what’s a pumpalot” (I think), to which the Toucan replies “not a pumpalot, a luffapump, er, a Puffalump.” And Toucan will have them know that they’re not just any Puffalump, but a…
What’s the name of this cartoon again, kids?
Yep, those glasses flash “wild.” I probably haven’t seen this in almost thirty years, and I totally remember those sunglasses flashing “WILD!”
Holly and Kevin are amused by this Toucan, and introduce themselves, to which Toucan sings about The Isle of Wild, before breaking her record player.
The kids explain how they got there, and that they’re in search of treasure. Toucan decides to help them at the mention of treasure, but doesn’t have a parachute and winds up on a pole on the lighthouse she’s been perched on.
Holly and Kevin begin calling for help, when Elephant, on his way to a picnic, hears their calls and comes to help, creating a safety net from the picnic blanket. The blanket propels the Toucan into nearby bushes, but when asked if she’s ok, her response is exactly what you’d expect.
Yup. Someone took cues from The Smurfs. Instead of “smurfing,” everything is…take a guess.
If you said WILD! then you’re ahead of the curve. Considering what I’m watching right now, I’m not sure how much of a curve that could possibly be.
Toucan is fine, and now the kids have met Elephant. Toucan asks for the map, and offers to help them find it on the other side of the island. Toucan says all they’re need is a pogo stick, to which Elephant replies that a balloon is much faster.
They engage in an argument prime for the five-year-olds watching this, until Holly and Kevin suggest having a race. Elephant and Kevin take a balloon, and Holly and Toucan take pogo sticks.
Kevin likes the balloon ride, calling it “neat,” to which Elephant corrects him: this balloon ride is…
Because we are 10 minutes in and the joke has run its course.
Kevin and Elephant see Holly and Toucan on their pogo sticks, and are determined to beat the balloon. Kevin and Elephant go through another cloud, and encounter a mountain…that they’ll hit the broadside of if they don’t…wish.
Kevin pulls a cord he shouldn’t have pulled, resulting in the balloon deflating and flying through the air manically. They drop into the snow-covered mountain, and right into the home of Walrus, whose reaction to his new guests is exactly what you’d expect.
We’ve got 12 more minutes, friends. Try to stay engaged.
His newfound friends need help, so he skis down the mountain, giving snow-covered Kevin and Elephant hot chocolate. When Walrus finds out why they crash-landed there, he reacts exactly as you’d expect.
And when he find out they’re part of a race within the treasure hunt…
There’s the plot twist you never saw coming!
Oh, and Elephant thinks the hot chocolate is…you know.
Seriously, it’s an important part of their vocabulary. They know nothing else.
Walrus is intrigued by their adventure, and decides to help Kevin and Elephant off the mountain. Of course, the way off the mountain is…
*Slams head on desk*
Meanwhile, on the ground…
Holly and Toucan are pogo sticking through mud, and Toucan winds up in said mud. After getting cleaned up, she rides on Holly’s shoulders as she pogos.
She accidentally hits a small hole in the ground, and it sends them flying into the river. After getting out of the water, they come into a wooded area where all the trees are black and white…to Holly.
But to Toucan (at first), they’re…
Plot Twist #2: They’re normal colors!
You really thought I was going to say “WILD,” didn’t you?
And then it hits, Toucan, there’s no color! But have no fear, Monkey is taking care of repainting the trees. She explains that there was a bad storm the night before, and it sapped everything of its color.
Toucan reminds Holly that they have a race to win, and off they go, after helping Monkey finish painting the trees. The jungle is now awash with color, as it once wash, and should be. It takes an instrumental music score to show all of this happening, in a way that 1980s movies always try to capture special moments.
After the work is complete, Monkey gives them a vine to swing out of the jungle, to which Toucan doubts its safety. They make like Tarzan, and Toucan believes they may have a shot at winning the race, which would be…
Meanwhile, Walrus and his new friends, Kevin and Elephant, show them his humble abode…complete with a sled.
Kevin and Elephant get on the sled, and Walrus puts on his skis. Elephant likes this mode of transportation, and in fact, thinks it is…
Less than eight minutes left. And stop constructing those hateful comments you’re saving for when you finish.
Down the mountain the trio go, straight into the forest, which they escape, only to crash into Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree and roll down the hill in giant snowballs that converge into one giant snowball.
Meanwhile, somewhere more tropical, Tiger is reading the news and drinking out of that Care Bears tumbler I bought last year, the one that my husband can’t stand looking at.
Just kidding, it’s a licensed Tiger character drinking out of an unlicensed bear character cup. But you legitimately laughed at that for a few seconds before you realized how pathetic that was, right?
(I’m referring to the part about the bear drinking from the bear cup, not my Care Bears cup. That’s not pathetic at all.)
The giant snowball containing Elephant, Kevin, and Walrus crash lands (it’s how all accidental meetings occur, it seems) in the lake, to which Tiger responds, “I didn’t hear anything about rain today.” Turns out it isn’t rain, it is our hapless male trio, and they’re trying to win the race to the treasure. That’s after a misunderstanding that they’re not crocodiles. Of course, the way out is…
We can do this. We’ve got nerves of steel.
Monkey (who for some reason is red, like Tiger), Toucan, and Holly have arrived at the end of the jungle, except there is an obstacle…Mount Puffalump.
Rhino is there to help guide the way, complete with a raft…
(God help us)
…and off they go down the river through Mount Puffalump. The river picks up speed, and it only going to get…
I get it. We’ve got less than six minutes left, and the writers figured out how many more times they can throw “WILD” in on this, while using the special effect of flashing sunglasses. We totally get it. This is total overkill. The Smurfs would slap the ever loving snot out of these anthropomorphic neon creatures and tell them to stop stealing their “gimmick.”
Anyway, because there’s no need for a tangent when we don’t have much more left (focus, Allison, focus!)…
Tiger leads Kevin, Walrus, and Elephant to his…giant waterslide (no one said “WILD”…yet), which he…sent away for (my suspended belief still cannot believe this), and get on a raft to navigate the giant waterslide.
Honestly, did the writer look at a Hammacher Schlemmer catalog for inspiration on this scene? It’s the only rational (don’t say a word) reason I could think of for including a giant waterslide.
Meanwhile, Holly and her comrades are having a blast on the river, and Kevin and his comrades splash down into another lake, which is all pretty…
I’d say kill me, but I am voluntarily torturing myself.
The best part of the whole experience, according to Tiger, is a waterfall.
Holly and her comrades also wind up coming out of the same waterfall. Now it’s a real race to the finish, which results in them crashing into a palm tree near the “X” that marks the spot.
There’s argument as to who wins, but Holly and Kevin are clearly annoyed by it all. They’re the cooler heads, the moral consciousness…but Panda witnessed the landing, and declares that both teams won.
That works. Everyone is happy. Easiest conflict resolution EVER! But, what about the treasure?
Everyone starts digging, until a a water spout reveals…THE TREASURE!
You endured multiple expressions of “WILD!” and an argument between anthropomorphic creatures to get to this, but it has happened.
So, what is it?
It is true treasure for Holly and Kevin, and a surprise for the animals that helped guide them…
Toucan declares that the kids look absolutely…yup, exactly the suspense that built up to this point. I just can’t say it anymore!!!!!
And like that, Holly and Kevin’s mother is calling them for dinner. The kids, with the book on top of them, realize they fell asleep.
So…all a dream? Seriously? But yes, there’s really no other way to describe the experience of it, except…it was all a dream.
And right before you threaten to strangle your computer in the belief that you’re strangling me, the kids rationalize that it couldn’t possibly be a dream, and the Puffalumps were not just part of that dream, because they have fancy new sunglasses on their faces.
And that, my friends is truly….
Yeah, say it with me.
As the final seizure-inducing moment of the cartoon happens, we cut to the tropical closing credits, complete with the Nelvana Neon Polar Bear as an in-credit logo (seriously, they couldn’t give the polar bear his moment?), and Family Home Entertainment’s letter-writing logo.
That’s ok, I’ll give the polar bear his moment!
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So, that was….I won’t say it. I cannot keep kicking the dead horse!
Actually, aside from the fact that it screams “product placement,” the cartoon as a whole is actually cute. The animation was pretty standard Nelvana of the time, with a little Fisher Price Little People cartoons thrown into the mix. I really liked this when I was five years old, and all cynicism (or the benefit of thirty years) aside, this was a fun watch. Despite the animation’s look of its time, this hasn’t aged poorly at all. Would little kids now like it? Probably not, it isn’t flashy (well, it’s a different kind of flashy…the literal kind!), loud, and fast-paced enough, but for those of us in who saw The Wild Puffalumps in 1988, it worked perfectly fine.
Besides, it has that really long commercial, non-educational feel to it, and that, my friends, is very 1980s.
Gotta love those times.
If description alone is not enough for you, and you really want to brave multiple sayings of “WILD!” combined with the concept of the 22-minute commercial, then by all means, click play below.
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(Yes, I have a copy of this, but someone else already uploaded it to YouTube.)
Not bad for my first recap in a while.
Do you remember The Wild Puffalumps, or Puffalumps in general? Sound off in the comments below, or be social on social media. Be a little – I can’t remember the word – about your responses.
Thanks for reading!! 🙂