Big Mouth Billy Bass

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Big Mouth Billy Bass is an animatronic singing prop, representing a largemouth bass, invented by Gemmy Industries on December 16, 1998; sold beginning January 1, 1999; and popular in the early 2000s.[1][2]

Gemmy Industries[edit]

Gemmy (\ˈjem-ē\) is an American novelty manufacturing company,[3] best known for its animatronic and inflatable characters. It is currently headquartered in Coppell, Texas. Founded in 1984, the company originally began producing ballpoint pens.[4] Gemmy eventually ventured into novelty manufacturing, and in 2000, it achieved marketing success with the Big Mouth Billy Bass. Following that success, the company began predominately making animatronic figures focused on the Christmas and Halloween seasons.[5] The company distributes product internationally, especially to the United Kingdom.

Design and features[edit]

The fish is made of latex rubber with an internal plastic mechanical skeleton. At first glance, the product appears to be a mounted game fish. The item was conceived by a Gemmy Industries product development vice president following his visit to a Bass Pro Shop.[6] The mounted fish turns its head towards a person, wiggles its tail on the trophy plaque, and sings kitschy cover songs, such as "Don't Worry, Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin; and "Take Me To The River" by Al Green. Green claims he received more royalties from Big Mouth Billy Bass than from any other recordings of the song.[7]

The singing mechanism was originally activated by a motion sensor and was designed to startle a passerby. Eventually, a button was added to activate it. There have been many variants of Big Mouth Billy Bass produced by Gemmy. These use different types of game fish and aquatic animals. Variants include: Travis the Rainbow Trout, Cool Catfish, and Rocky Lobster.

Spin-offs and other versions[edit]

The concept was later adapted into a large mounted deer head, known as "Buck – the Animated Trophy" (voiced by Clint Ford), as well as a medium-sized mounted bear head.[8]

On December 7, 1999, a special holiday version of the Big Mouth Billy Bass was released. The fish had a Santa hat on his head and a ribbon with a sleigh bell on his tail.[9] An anniversary edition followed in 2014.[10][better source needed]

In popular culture[edit]

It is reported that Queen Elizabeth II of England has a Big Mouth Billy Bass displayed on the grand piano of Balmoral Castle.[8]

The success of the Big Mouth Billy Bass has led to a number of pop culture appearances, including product placements. Some of the device's notable appearances include The Simpsons, The Sopranos, and WALL-E.[11][12][13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Report: Big Mouth Billy Bass Still Good For A Laugh". The Betoota Advocate. August 25, 2017. Retrieved November 4, 2017.
  2. ^ "Bizarre Inventions that Made Serious Bucks". www.business-management-degree.net. Retrieved November 4, 2017.
  3. ^ www.gemmy.com
  4. ^ "About Gemmy". www.gemmy.com. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  5. ^ "Remember Big Mouth Billy Bass? Of Course You Do". Marketplace. December 18, 2019. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  6. ^ Sobey, Ed; Sobey, Woody (2008). The Way Toys Work: The Science Behind the Magic 8 Ball, Etch a Sketch, Boomerang, and More. Chicago Review. pp. 21–23. ISBN 9781613743096.
  7. ^ "Guy Turns His Big Mouth Billy Bass into an Alexa!". 105.7 The Hawk. Archived from the original on November 7, 2017. Retrieved November 4, 2017.
  8. ^ a b Schuessler, Heidi, Getting Under the Skin of a Fish That Can Get Under Yours, The New York Times, December 14, 2000, last accessed May 7, 2008.
  9. ^ Schuessler, Heidi (December 14, 2000). "Getting Under the Skin of a Fish That Can Get Under Yours" – via NYTimes.com.
  10. ^ Entis, Laura (October 15, 2014). "King of Kitsch: Meet the Company Behind Big Mouth Billy Bass and a Dozen Other Novelty Items From Your Childhood". Entrepreneur. Retrieved November 4, 2017.[better source needed]
  11. ^ Bartkowiak, Mathew J. (October 19, 2012). Sounds of the Future: Essays on Music in Science Fiction Film. McFarland. ISBN 9780786456505. Retrieved November 4, 2017.
  12. ^ "The Great Money Caper". The Simpsons Archive.
  13. ^ "Big Mouth Billy Bass Inventor Says He's No One-Hit Wonder". D Magazine. July 1, 2020. Retrieved May 18, 2021.