Jaws Collectibles – Parodies and Knock-Offs
We’ve been exploring Jaws collectibles and movie memorabilia for the last week or so and I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of those items that rode the wave of Jaws success, albeit unofficially.
Unlicensed merchandise is nothing new in the world of pop culture. It’s almost guaranteed that anything successful will be quickly copied, imitated, blatantly ripped off as well as parodied. The immense commercial success of Jaws at the box office made it a licensing bonanza, but the nature of the subject matter made it quite easy for unlicensed companies to jump on the money machine. After all, Universal Studios couldn’t exactly license Great White Sharks!
By the summer of 1976, sharks were showing up on everything imaginable, from beach towels to t-shirts, from rack toys to magazine covers.
In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the more impactful Jaws parodies and knock-offs.
Who doesn’t remember this silly song? Dickie Goodman released the first cut-in parody record in 1956 called The Flying Saucers Part 1 & 2. Almost twenty years later, he was still at it with his parody of Jaws. This record sold over 1MM copies and hit #4 on the Billboard Top 40 in 1975.
Check out this really interesting article about Mr. Goodman and his cut-in records at 7 inches of 70s Pop blog.
Mr Jaws ‘sampled’ 13 hit songs, including the Theme from Jaws by John Williams. None of the artists sampled received a penny in royalties from the sales of Mr Jaws. On the album version of Mr. Jaws, both “Please Mr. Please” and “Rhinestone Cowboy” were replaced by re-recorded budget sound-alike renditions.
I had this album, along with others like Goofy Greats which I played incessantly in those days. I thought these songs were hysterical. While it’s fun to hear it again after all these years, I’m honestly not sure what I found so funny about it…
Almost hard to call this album a collectible given that the vinyl album sells for $10 and the single for less than $5 on eBay. It’s available now on Amazon for $9.99 and there are a number of current listings on eBay for both the single and the album all reasonably priced.
Mad Magazine #180 (January 1976)
This cover was painted by Mort Kunstler who adopted the pseudonym “Mutz” out of content that doing a cover for MAD would hurt his career. This is the only cover he ever did for the magazine, even though the publisher asked him to do all future covers after this one turned out so well. Steven Spielberg now owns the original painting for this cover.
These are pretty easy to get your hands on and a number are currently available on eBay. Recent eBay sales range in price from $3.99 – $6.99 for copies in VG condition and there are a number of current listings on eBay
Topps Wacky Packages
Wacky Packages were stickers released by Topps Chewing Gum Company beginning in 1967 that parodied common household products as well as popular culture. They were immensely popular with kids in the 1970s.
Each pack contained 2 stickers, a piece of gum and a checklist. The Wacky Packages parody of Jaws, called “Gums” was part of the 15th series, which Topps released in July 1975.
Wacky Packages have surged in collectibility in recent years and ‘Gums’ single cards can easily demand $15-$20 for a high-grade card. A current listing on eBay starts at $16.99.
Knock-offs & Unlicensed Merchandise
Here’s a great example of an unlicensed product that went so far as to even use the name ‘jaws’ but keeping it just generic enough by tagging the word ‘shark’ in front. This was a bubble gum machine display card and a nice copy Recently Sold on eBay for $12
I was 9 years old when Jaws was released and I spent my summers at the beach in South Carolina. I remember sharks being imprinted on just about everything for those few summers after the film was released.
What was your favorite piece of Jaws merchandise, official or otherwise?