The Beatles made their American debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Feb. 9, 1964. Their performance launched the moderately popular British band into super-stardom and spawned “Beatlemania,” a worldwide craze that, for many fans, continues 50 years later.
Forget the classic vinyl albums, posters and magazine ads from the ‘60s and ‘70s! We’ve tracked down some of the most unusual Beatles collectibles from the last 50 years. Here are 15 of our favorite items:
1964 Mastro Musical Instruments
Young Wannabeatles could play their hearts out on a series of plastic musical instruments (guitars, ukuleles, drum sets and banjos) manufactured in the U.S. by Mastro and sold in stores and by mail order from 1964-66. Today, a set of Beatles Bongos in their original box will set you back around $10,000.
1964 Vintage Beatles Kaboodle Kit
Designed to store and transport teens’ treasures, many of these vinyl-covered cardboard kaboodle kits were used as lunchboxes. Nine different colors were manufactured and sold in the U.S. by Standard Plastic Products, which also produced vinyl pencil cases, wallets and binders. Less durable than traditional metal lunchboxes, fewer kaboodle kits survived.
Paul and Linda McCartney Animatronic Caricature Heads
Fans of Sir Paul McCartney who want to remember happier days before his marriage to and divorce from Heather Mills can scoop up these (mildly creepy) vintage animatronic heads. Modeled after a young Paul and Linda McCartney, these one-of-a-kind, hand-painted caricatures were likely part of a Disney on Parade puppet show during the 1970s.
Move over Batman, Beatles-crazed kids in 1964 could collect candy dressed as their favorite member of the Beatles. John, Paul, George and Ringo each were featured on brightly printed flannel and nylon costumes made by Ben Cooper. Boxed costumes included a molded plastic mask with “authentic hair” attached.
Fab Four Flasher Rings
Dispensed from gumball machines in the 1960s, silver-toned plastic flasher rings featured Vari-Vue lenticular images that alternately “flashed” head shots of individual Beatles and a corresponding introduction— “I’m John,” “I’m Paul,” “I’m Ringo” or “I’m George” and “Beatles.”
The Swingers Cake Decorations
Manufactured in Hong Kong in 1964, these plastic cake toppers imitated the Beatles’ likeness and were one of the earliest knockoffs attempting to cash in on Beatlemania. These molded plastic cake toppers were not licensed by NEMS but remain popular with serious Beatles collectors.
How better to maintain your Beatles haircut than with The Beatle Brush? The pocket-sized, unbreakable hairbrush came in red, white or blue plastic imprinted with the Beatles logo and faces. As a bonus, many came with a “Free! Autograph picture card” for only 39 cents each. Many reproductions were made in the 1970s and ‘90s.
1964 Milton Bradley Flip Your Wig Game
Board game-maker Milton Bradley introduced the Flip Your Wig board game in 1964. Each set included a game board, cardboard cutouts for each member of the Beatles, a numbered die and two decks of cards. Players moved their Beatle around the board to collect cards from each deck.
Beatles Nylon Stockings
Ooh, la, la! Girls on both sides of the pond could show off their legs and their love for the Beatles with seamless textured stockings featuring the faces of the Fab Four. Nylon stockings were made by Carefree in the U.S. and Ballito in the U.K.
Beatles Talc, Perfume and Hair Spray
From perfume and talc to hair spray and hair pomade, the Beatles, or more likely their manager Brian Epstein, put their faces on just about every product that would appeal to star-struck teens. Consumable products that were discarded after use are highly sought after by collectors. Examples made in England by Margo of Mayfair include perfume (1963) and a lithographed talc tin (1964.) In the U.S., aerosol hair spray cans were emblazoned with the Fab Four in 1964.
Beatles Yellow Submarine Ice Tray
The 1966 nonsensical children’s song Yellow Submarine set the Beatles off on a sea of silliness that prompted a movie, a soundtrack and collectible merchandise that sails off shelves today. Yellow submarine-shaped silicone trays make great molds for individual chocolate candies, Jell-o jigglers and, of course, ice.
1998 Sgt. Pepper’s Salt and Pepper Shakers
With pepper in the album name, it’s a no-brainer that someone would create salt and pepper shakers to commemorate “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” The drum-shaped ceramic shakers were made by Vandor in 1998.
Apple Corps Limited Edition Beatles CD Player Radio
Enjoy the pops and crackles of your vintage vinyl Beatles albums on a combination radio-CD player-turntable licensed by Apple Corps Ltd. in 1998.
Royal Doulton Beatles Toby Jugs (4-piece set)
Sip tea from the head of your favorite mop-topped member of the Beatles with collectible toby jugs from Royal Doulton. Designed in 1984 by Stanley J. Taylor, jugs feature each member of the Fab Four dressed in attire from the “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” album.
Beatles Wooden Nesting Dolls
Dozens of different Russian nesting dolls featuring the likenesses of The Beatles are offered for sale on ebay. In this set of hand-painted matryoshka dolls, John Lennon is the largest of five dolls, each decreasing in size. The fifth and smallest piece is a tiny beetle bug!