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Official Article

Bugs Bunny 50th Anniversary Magazine

In 1990, Bugs Bunny turned 50 years old and was on the verge of a major marketing push that had begun with Tim Burton’s blockbuster Batman film the year before. As part of the celebration, the iconic mascot of Warner Bros and wiseguy leader of the wacky Looney Tunes crew was celebrated in a collector’s edition magazine that I couldn’t resist picking up during a trip to the local grocery store when I was 8. 

One look at this bright yellow cover should make clear why it has been a part of my personal library for 26 years now and after flipping through the pages recently, I discovered some amazing ads and tributes to the “wascally wabbit” that really raised my nostalgia levels. I hope it will do the same for you, so let’s go down the rabbit hole.

Tyson TV Dinners

The minute I saw this 2 page spread, I instantly flashed back to the frozen foods section of Lucky’s Grocery Store in Irvine, CA circa 1990. Do you recall the excitement that these kid friendly TV dinners created in you during weekly shopping trips? 

Just seeing Bugs Bunny offering you Chicken Nuggets, the Speedy Gonzalez delivering enchiladas immediately made these dishes more appetizing. In retrospect it’s kind of Duck Season/Rabbit Season scenario where these anthropomorphic animals are trying to convince you not to cook them up in a delicious sauce, but rather one of their tasty neighbors. Kind of messed up.

Tiny Toon Adventures

Steven Spielberg is interviewed about his involvement in producing the upcoming Tiny Toon Adventures cartoon. He’s very excited about helping to create this next generation of Looney Tunes, because as he puts it, “Disney made you feel good, but Warner toons cracked you up”. 

I remember during my first glimpse of Babs, Buster, Hampton and the rest, thinking that they were just cheap knock-offs of the originals. Little did I know that I would soon be glued to the tube after school waiting for the next music video segment like “Particle Man” by They Might Be Giants or Plucky as The Toxic Revenger. It was a phenomenon that no kid could escape.

Comic Strip Birthday Cards

This section of the magazine was huge for me as a child, in that it confirmed the concept that all cartoon characters lived in a shared universe, as originally suggested by the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit?Everyone from Garfield, to Snoopy to forgotten one-panel gag-meister Ziggy sent birthday wishes to the old carrot-muncher. 

At the time, getting a congratulations from The Simpsons was a huge deal, as Fox's dysfunctional familyhad replaced Bugs and friends as the icons of animation. That being said, the ultimate tribute in my mind was Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman embracing Bugs as one of their own. A super endorsement indeed.

Gremlins 2 Ad 

This progressive double page advertisement for Gremlins 2 was a real treat, especially since the movie itself was so unexpected, coming 6 years after the original. The all black page with just a glimpse of a worried Gizmo hiding out in a drawer built the suspense, then we turned the page to see the completed poster art. 

The Gremlin hand holding a cigar in a high-rise office was baffling and I could never have imagined the mayhem created by the 7 new varieties of Gremlins going wild on the theater screen that June. Despite the confusion it created, the concept delighted me to no end. Such a clever ad, for such a worthy film.

Merrie Melodies starring Bugs Bunny and Friends Cartoon Series

Though I felt like classic Warner Bros. cartoons were constantly in rotation on my TV screen, apparently a new show featuring the old guard of Warner Bros animated characters was in the works. Though they chose a rather lengthy title  in "Merrie Melodies starring Bugs Bunny and Friends”. Does anybody remember this show? 

I have zero memory of it and half the characters featured in the poster are totally foreign to me. Especially Mr. Bug Eyes in the upper left corner, who looks like a reject from The Simpsons drawing board. But according to this article it ran for 2 years and the Merrie Melodies name was used because Nickelodeon was airing a different Looney Tunes series at this time. Crazy.

The Fashion

It would only be a few more years before the “Thugs Bunny” style t-shirts would take over the urban fashion market, but in the mean time we got denim…lot’s of denim. Hear we have actress Dana Delaney sporting a killer jean jacket and being cited for her role on China Beach. But I know her best for her later voice work as Lois Lane on Superman The Animated series. 

What’s crazier is the prices listed for the full-on designer Looney Tunes denim fashion this little kid is decked out in. $190 in 1990? That’s like $500 bucks for clothes the kid will grow out of in a month. “They’re tiny, they’re tooney, their all a little looney”…you better believe it!

Animation Cell Sample

The last item on our list was something that seemed so valuable at the time, but I’m sure was instantly depreciated by the sheer volume produced. An authentic film cell from the Bugs Bunny movie. Wait, there was a Bugs Bunny movie that didn’t star Michael Jordan? Yeah, I didn’t see it either. 

This was during the huge collector’s boom where the Warner Bros. Stores at the local mall had galleries featuring framed animation cells from iconic cartoons for purchase at exorbitant prices. So to get one for free with the purchase of a magazine seemed like a big deal, it was even advertised on the cover as a reason to buy the thing at all. Now it’s just a nice, sturdy bookmark.

So those are the major highlights of this historic piece of print media, unless you want an interview with the guy who took over vocal duties for Bugs from Mel Blanc after the veteran voice actor’s his death 12 months earlier. As I close I did want to share the above ad for a trio of Cheerios flavors. That Apple Cinnamon box was just so late 80's to me with the scribbled apple image and cursive writing.

So what was your favorite part of the Bugs Bunny and friends hype machine in the early 90’s? What merchandise did you have?
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Looking for more from Hoju Koolander?

Hoju Koolander Posted on Jan 15, 2017 at 09:53 PM

You we're totally stylin', doc.

NLogan Posted on Jan 11, 2017 at 11:18 PM

In 1998 I had a black Space Jam long sleeved shirt. It had the Tune Squad on it with Bugs,Wile E. Coyote, and the Tazmanian Devil with Space Jam written on the sleeves. I also had a Marvin the Martian ball-cap.

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