You may have seen Terry Fator’s trademark, a puppet of a large, hairy, manly man sporting a “Tiger” moustache. But there are a lot more.
We’re not talking a big guy; we’re talking about the one or two guys in every town in America who create giant rubber manoids out of foam and plastic.
There are dozens upon dozens of these guys. They’ll put the puppet on a table with a pair of rubber boots or a sock or both, and tell you to roll your nose — and that’s just the beginning.
The man in the middle will then move to a different part of the floor, and repeat.
It’s a classic trick: one man’s trick goes down well, another man’s goes down even better. And then maybe, someone’s going to make one that comes with an inflatable penis, or what-have-you.
The trick’s all well and good — but if you want to see another version of the same trick — you can’t buy a giant rubber man out in the real world.
And even if you do come across one, it’s a tricky task to bring them back up on the table.
It all started a few centuries ago, when European fur traders and craftsmen began sending their products out of the Continent to get them to America. In the process, they started to turn large rubber animals into miniature humans. In Europe, this was mostly done by wearing clothes. In America, by making rubber puppets with foam rubber bodies.
Here’s how one of these early European rubber manoids was put together.
It was all in good time.
The first European puppet appeared in 1675. They were called the “tiger.”
But that wasn’t a nice-looking guy either. They had large, furry, man-like eyes that looked like tigers’ eyes, and they wore some strange, hairy headgear to hide their faces. They had to be made to look like man-moths.
The word “tiger” is from the Greek word for “thug,” i.e. a thug.
They were often sold as a “T” or “T. Rex” — as in this famous cartoon depicting one.
You can kind of picture a giant rubber tiger with a long, thin tail swinging around.
After World War II, a few of these
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