Buzzy Bee

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A children's ride in the shape of a Buzzy Bee in Warkworth

The Buzzy Bee is a popular toy in New Zealand. It resembles a bee with rotating wings that move and make a clicking noise while the toy is pulled along the ground. Possibly based on an earlier American concept,[1] it was designed and first produced in New Zealand in the 1930s, by Maurice Schlesinger.[2] It became popular during the post-war baby boom. Its bright colours and clicking sound call are familiar to many New Zealanders, making it one of the most well-recognised items of Kiwiana. Since this time however, the Buzzy Bee has branched out into various merchandise including books, jigsaws and clothing.

It received a good deal of free promotion with the visit of The Prince and Princess of Wales in 1983 with their infant son, Prince William of Wales, who played with a Buzzy Bee.

As an iconic New Zealand symbol, the Buzzy Bee caricature was used on the keel of NZL84, one of Emirates Team New Zealand's entrant yachts for the America's Cup held in Valencia, Spain, in 2007.

In June 2007, plans were unveiled for a Buzzy Bee stage show "Buzzy Bee's Big Day Out". The company behind the show also revealed that they'd made an animated show reel and were finalising details of a distribution deal, and that they hoped to begin work on an animated series for television.[3] The animated TV show Buzzy Bee and Friends has aired on TV2 from 2009.[4]

Fisher-Price manufactured Buzzy Bees from 1950 to 1956. Buzzy Bee was originally covered with paper lithographs depicting a yellow bee with pink cheeks, blue eyes, and striped tail. The bee had two spring antennae topped with red beads. Yellow acetate wings rotated and the toy made a "buzz-buzz" sound as it was pulled along on two wooden wheels.[5][6] Buzzy Bee cost $.59 and was Fisher-Price's first toy to feature plastic. The toy was retired for a few years but returned in 1956 as Queen Buzzy Bee wearing a polyethylene crown. Queen Buzzy was manufactured through the mid-1980s.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Nasty sting in the tale of 'our' Buzzy Bee icon". The New Zealand Herald. 8 July 1999. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  2. ^ Williams, Tony (2007). 101 Incredible Kiwis: How New Zealanders Lead the World. Auckland: Reed Publishing.
  3. ^ Joanna Hunkin (2007-05-22). "Multi-million dollar Buzzy Bee stage show to hit the road". NZ Herald. Retrieved 2014-06-28. 
  4. ^ "TV Show". Buzzy Bee and friends. Lion Rock Ventures. Retrieved 2 September 2013. 
  5. ^ Buzzy Bee This Old Toy
  6. ^ a b Rich, Mark. Warman's 101 Greatest Baby Boomer Toys. kp books, 2005.

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