ASK ANYBODY... to name a favorite plaything or toy or game from their youth and you're bound to get a reply that runs along the lines of "...from my youth?" Implying, of course, that what we loved at age 5 we'll probably love at 55, with a few more levels of understanding thrown in, about what that plaything has meant to pop culture and other people who loved it so. And while toys run the gamut of theme and cuddliness and hardiness and repeat-play-ability, there are a few superstars of the bedroom shelf that have weathered the decades, and, yes, even a couple of different centuries, too. Just about every person regardless of when they were born knows Gumby, even from a distance, and we're not even talking about simply spying his delightful forest-green hue. His head has an iconic, geometric shape, as does his bendy body, and his companion Pokey could say exactly the same (though Pokey is more the color of a tomato or ruby, not lettuce or a lime). He's about as famous as famous gets, and the mid-century wonder is about to get famouser, if that's possible, with a 60th birthday party in Glendora over the third weekend in September.
SEPT. 18-20... are the dates for this toy to-do, a happening that includes panels, collectibles, and Gumby sightings, too. Joe Clokey -- you know his dad Art Clokey, the creator of Gumby -- will be there, hosting a "Gumby Through the Years" presentation, and a bunch of stalwarts in the field of stop-motion and animation shall be giving talks on the charming and breezy (though not easy) art form, including a senior puppet builder from Jim Henson's Creature Shop. It isn't simply about applauding an icon, but also delving deep into the format that brought Gumby to life, first as a character on "Howdy Doody" and then as a fixture on toy shelves across the world (and across the decades). If you're a Gumbyian, or you're eager to know more about the creative calling that brought he and Pokey and their nemeses and their buddies to life, bend those limbs in the direction of the festival and make for Glendora. Don't be pokey about it, either (though feel free to be Pokey, when you arrive, if you have the get-up).