THE REMPEL STORY
by Ronald L. Smith
After Froggy the Gremlin became a hit on radio, and in comic books....
He achieved immortality as a rubber squeak toy. Pretty amazing, isn't it? Froggy wasn't on TV yet, so kids weren't yowling
about wanting the creature they saw hopping around with Smilin' Ed. They just wanted him based on a radio voice and a flat
image in a comic book.
And so in 1948 the Rempel Company began to market a Froggy the Gremlin. Yes, he was now infiltrating homes.
Rempel offered two sizes, five inch and nine inch.
Surviving examples only prove what kind of a gremlin he really was: no two seem to be exactly alike. Sometimes the rubber
has hardened completely. Sometimes portions of the body have changed color or darkened. Sometimes the body or face is deflated,
fingers or joints full of holes, or the legs warped to the point where the creature can't stand up on his own. (Just see the
separate page on Rempel Froggy Monstrosities!)
As you see from the eBay ad way below, an original Froggy in his box can easily sell for $500. Or MORE (this was the small
version, after all!) .
Froggy collectors usually don't settle for only ONE squeak toy. They want ALL the variations. This means, with the 9 inch
frog, one with a squeaker in the back, another with the squeaker in the foot, and perhaps one to show, and another to actually
Unlike most squeak toys, which didn't do anything except squeak, the Rempel Froggy has a neat trick. Stick your finger
over the airhole/squeaker in the back, squeeze, and his mouth opens wide and his tongue sticks out!
The five inch version is especially lively when it comes to sticking out the tongue. Just grab him, stick your finger
over his back-hole and then squeeze. Wow, his tongue really sticks out. So would yours. Bring over a friend and find out.
Froggyphiles instantly can tell a 9 inch frog from a 5 inch frog JUST from the photo. The ties are a different color.
The 9 inch has a black tie, the 5 inch has a white tie.
It's also easy to tell if it's a real Rempel frog: the logo is stamped into him (back of the head on the 5 inch, backside
on the 9 inch). Most Rempels were made in the good old U.S.A. but they did license a company to make some in Canada. Rempel/Canada
is on those frogs. If you've got a rubber Froggy with no identification at all, it's from The Leisure Group (of Medina, Ohio)
who evidently were allowed to make a cheap rubber Froggy. Their version is slightly larger than the Rempel (perhaps 9 and
a half inches), and has a squeaker in the foot. The Medina was wrapped like a cheap children's squeaker toy...Froggy was encased
in a plastic bag with a cardboard panel on the top so that he could hang from a rack. The Medina has a slightly bolder or
more garish paintjob.
Some think these Froggy replicas may have been shamans with some kind of mystical power, some kind of mind control chemical
that could be smelled or tasted in the fresh rubber.
A touching ad was once run by someone selling a Froggy the Gremlin in near-mint condition. The condition was explained
this way: "The original owner was given it as a little girl, and she was so frightened of it, she kept it hidden away
in a closet."
Sometimes on eBay you'll see a "Froggy the Gremlin" that looks nothing like the beloved character we all remember.
This is Rempel's "Croaker" the Frog, one of the original menagerie of animals Rempel made. The name was evidently
considered a bit macabre so the creature was later re-named 'Peeper." Either way, one of these Rempels rarely sells
for more than $30 or $40. In fact, the average Rempel squeak toy barely reaches $10 or $15 among collectors.
As for Froggy the Gremlin, he can be expensive in ANY condition. On eBay people have spent $15 for a flattened one, $25
for a hardened little frog with only one arm, and $40 for a small faded one "blinded" by a lack of paint.
Rempel was such a success that his company had over 40 workers and they were making 6,000 toys every day. Even though
Froggy is not truly "rare" and one turns up on eBay almost every week, the prices are still amazingly high.
By the time Andy's Gang was on television, and fans could actually see Froggy cavorting and hopping back and forth, Rempel
had over 500 employees and four locations for manufacture and warehousing. But after Andy's Gang disappeared in the 50's,
and simple squeak toys gave way to dolls that could talk and wet themselves, Rempel had to diversify into creating Spring-type
rocking horses and outdoor play equipment.
The last of their rubber squeeze toys were sold in 1968. Today, you don't see many rubber squeeze items in toy stores;
more in pet shops (the fabulous noisy rubber dog bone).
Mr. Rempel died in March of 1987, in Akron, Ohio. His wife Ruth had died in March of 1986. Froggy the Gremlin...LIVES
|This frog was $40 on eBay. Below, new, $500!
A small REMPEL frog in average condition might be $50 on eBay, but a perfect one? $150 or $200, and if he's in the original
box, double that figure!
The large REMPEL frog in good condition averages $100 on eBay, but if he's in his original box? How about $600!!
Wall Street Brokers know the dirty little secret, they do, they do: owning REMPEL FROGGIES is a great investment!!