Saturday, July 30, 2016

50 years ago: WORLD CUP WILLIE

It's 50 years to the day since the 1966 World Cup and England's memorable victory against Germany that England fans haven't stopped going on about ever since. I've never been a football fan but I did watch that match on TV with my dad (who also wasn't a footie fan but we were swept up with the excitement of the times). What I did like, as a 7 year old back then, was the England mascot World Cup Willie. This cartoon lion appeared on various bits of merchandise including badges, T-shirts, and even bars of nougat. 
One of the best items was the World Cup Willie Rolykin, similar to the Rolykins of the Daleks and Batman that were also around then produced by Louis Marx. I'm not a toy collector as such but I have saved a few toys I had as a child. As you can see from the photos, the 'Rolykin' was a plastic figure (4cm tall) that had a metal ball bearing in the base so you could roll it along smoothly. If memory serves me right, this simple but enjoyable toy was only 1/- (5p). 




There was also a World Cup Willie comic strip in TV Comic for a while. Here's a page from September 1966, drawn by Bill Mevin I think...

Do you have any memories of this mascot you'd like to share? If so, post a comment below. 

5 comments:

John Pitt said...

I had him, Lew! I used him as Emperor to my 3 rolykin Daleks! I wish I'd seen the Batman one in Woolies as well!

Colin Jones said...

On the box World Cup Willie is wearing a Union Jack but the model seems to be wearing a white X on a blue background - the Scotland flag !! So where was the St. George cross ?

Lew Stringer said...

There's definitely red in there as well, Colin, if you click on the pictures to enlarge them. Bear in mind these figures were very small, and hand painted in Hong Kong, no doubt very quickly, so they did the best they could. They'd all have slight differences so some may be more accurate, but as long as it contained red, white, and blue, it was close enough.

Ken said...

Artist Roger Hoye, who had illustrated some Enid Blyton books, thought up Willie. He based it on his 12 year old son! There are some quite disturbing photos on-line of a fully suited up WCW, doing some promotional shoots in 1966. I find some of the photos a bit creepy! I think it is the exposed bare legs of the guy in the suit that freaks me a little!

Ken said...

Lew, I have noticed that there are 2 variants of the Rolykins WCW. Kicking with right foot and juggling ball. Perhaps my eyes are playing tricks?

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