Created by English inventor Robert Benson, the toys gained popularity and were endorsed by celebrities such as Ringo Starr and Peter Sellers. The Gonks' signature features include a small, spherical body, a furry texture and two googly eyes. Some Gonks had outfits such as those of Merseybeat rockers and were marketed as collectibles. They were popular with children and their success was attributed to how they "can be made from almost any material and of any size." The appearance of some of these toys has been compared to the op art movement.
Londoner Robert Benson invented the original toys that achieved popularity in the United Kingdom in the 1960s. The sale of the toys expanded to nations such as Canada and the United States, where Gund began to sell Gonks at a large scale, including inflatable vinyl versions.
Gonks are featured in the title sequence of Gonks Go Beat, a 1965 science-fiction film created by exploitation film director Robert Hartford-Davis. The film features a Romeo and Juliet-style love story with celebrity appearances by Ginger Baker and Lulu.
- Macdonald, Iain (May 12, 1964). "Just a Crazy Mixed up Gonk". Evening Times. Glasgow. p. 12. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- Greenaway, Gladys; Greenaway, Kathryn (1973). Toy Making. Drake Publishers. p. 30.
- "'Living Dolls for Christmas". The Beaver County Times. Penn. November 25, 1965. p. B-9. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- "Cheaper toys 'are Christmas hits'". BBC News. 28 October 2009. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
- "Going, Going, Gonk". Newsweek. October 1964. pp. 106, 109. Retrieved March 31, 2013.
- Raiffe, Bruce S.; Alex Baron Raiffe (2005). Gund. Images of America. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing. p. 103. ISBN 9780738537108. OCLC 62380934. Retrieved March 31, 2013.