Item 70b | What the Deuce?! -- Fearless Cultural Mania
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Extra-Amazing Super Item Day!

(Monday, 25oct99)

Part Two

(See also
Part One)

Last week, unknown to me, longtime Deuce of Clubs pal Ultima Thule was eBay-bidding on my behalf for a long-sought-after Oobi -- in original packaging, no less! She did not win the auction, but she did snag this scan of the elusive Oobi(s).

So, my sister and I were not victims of some shared nightmare -- Oobis actually existed.

You may scoff if you like. As for me, I shall in due course be establishing the Oobi Information Center.

("OOBIE MEANS LOVE" ... ack!)

See also: OOBILAND

(Watch for future Items of the Week that were also acquired on Extra-Amazing Super Item Day: Model Bottle, Duck Soap, and a mystery-solving OC Register article.)
NOW OPEN: oobiland!

Wish I had a better scan, so the directions were legible. As I recall, they're Hippie-Hilariyoose! (If, that is, you find hippies hilarious ... and I do).
Here's the description that used to be on the Gimme Page, but is now here instead:

I'm pretty sure that once upon a time in the late 60s there existed these little plastic reddish-orange spheroids called "Oobi." An Oobi was about 3-4" long with big eyes painted on one side and a slit in the top. There were address lines on them and you were supposed to put a message or letter inside, address Oobi and then just abandon it somewhere, hoping other kind hippie-ish souls would carry Oobi gradually towards its destination. The commercial for the thing showed someone leaving one on a fence post, another person picking it up and taking off on a bike or something, another person, and so on. (What optimists they were back in the 60s.)

They may have come in packs of two or three. I used mine to send a letter to my cousin. Naturally, that was one Oobi that was never seen again. My sister, wiser than I, kept hers. She has claimed she might still have it somewhere, but hasn't been able to back it up yet.

No one else except my sister and I seem to remember Oobi. Does anyone have *any* information about these things? I was thinking they might have been made by Wham-O, but this has proved unlikely.

Turns out that Oobi was in fact a Parker Brothers product -- their most colossal failure ever, as I was informed by the guy who beat out Ultima in the eBay auction:

According to a 1973 Parker publication, 90 Years of Fun 1883-1973:.

"Oobi, a red, egg-shaped hollow message container, holds the distinction of being Parker Brothers' wildest failure. Printed on it was: 'I contain a message to another human being. Please further my journey an inch, a foot or a mile. Add a note, if you wish. Then help me to the next nice person like yourself.' To prevent competitors from stealing the idea, intra-office communications were coded, 'Project 0' The advertsing campaign, introduced in early 1971 with an artistic and beautiful television commercial, was 'Oobi means love.' Parker Brothers soon got the message. The public hated Oobi. Thinking that perhaps the West Coast test failed because they weren't quite ready for Oobi, the test-market was switched to the Southeast, where it also failed miserably. End of Message Carrier."

Ultima also sent this along -- I guess it entitles me to a free screening of Being John Malkovich?
On the outside of the envelope Ultima pasted a doodling contest entry form, on which she doodled, "Toaster Pastry."

(Ultima's accompanying letter:)

Dear Doc --

Well, I guess you weren't lying after all. I had fervently hoped that I'd be sending you the actual Oobi in this package, but some selfish, scheming and probably smelly eBayer, whose feedback rating indicates he's already accumulated 153 other other useless things to distract him from his empty, futile and probably smelly life, outbid me at the last minute. I will, however, persevere in my quest to reunite you with your beloved Oobi. Now that I have my own Doctor Who Tardis toy and an action figure of the wrestler Gold Dust which bears a passing resemblance to Eddie Izzard, I feel I should share the joy. Just think of what a philanthropist I'll be when I get my hands on those Pokemon "Team Rocket" dolls!

Enclosed is the latest [other magazine] -- a sorry substitute for Oobi, perhaps, but you could always write your name on it, leave it somewhere and see if it finds its way back to you. I've also included my pre-hype Blair Witch article, just because it's the last cool interview I've done. Actually, that's not true -- though it's the last one I've written up. But H. & I took our long-dreamed-of vacation to London last month, and while there, I got to interview Rimsy, Krytig & Kochanski from Red Dwarf. [Editor] approved the story before he left [magazine] -- now I'm concerned that I'll have to work nudity, excrement and various advocations of social irresponsibility into the story in order to assure it passes muster with the new regime. [New editor]'s great, but the rest seem skankier than the Marquis de Sade's underpants. I'm afraid that without [editor]'s gentle jackalopes, [magazine] is doomed to devolve into the magazine that gives John Waters the heebie-jeebies and makes Larry Flynt want to sob quietly a la Coco in Fame.

Ubbi Dubbi,
Ultima Thule