The Barker Character, Cartoon, and Comic Museum in Cheshire, CT was absolutely everything we hoped and dreamed it would be. Their giant collection is well organized and the staff is very knowledgeable. When you visit, be sure to bring along one of your own old toys to donate to Herb’s museum. It’s one of our favorite traditions thus far from the road.
1. The Barker Museum is a real life memory lane.
It doesn’t matter what generation you belong to. You will find something you once loved to play with.
2. Perhaps the most sought-after item in the entire museum isn’t a toy at all.
This historic item is an original Mickey Mouse milk of magnesia toothpaste tube. With paste still in it!
3. The birth of RC.
This Dick Tracy Copmobile from 1963 is one of the first ever “remote control” cars. It came with a long stick that you would use to switch levers on the car to change its direction.
4. Here’s Gumby IRL.
These original plasticine Gumby characters were used in the late 1950s hit television show.
5. Popeye finally got his big break.
Originally a secondary character on the popular Thimble Theater comic strip, Popeye the Sailor Man didn’t get his big break (and his own comic) until 1933.
6. If you ever owned a novelty mug in your lifetime, you will see it again here.
They have them all.
7. They have mugs for days.
8. Before there was Elmer, there was Elsie.
Elmer, from the famous Elmer’s Glue, was created to save his wife Elsie. Elsie became so popular in the late 1930s that the glue manufacturer didn’t want customers imagining her demise. So they invented her husband, Elmer, and melted him down to make glue. :(
9. Movie theater swag rules.
The Barker Museum collects several large items from local Connecticut movie premieres.
10. Everybody’s favorite trouble maker.
Dennis the Menace first appeared in newspaper comic strips in 1951. He has since been the inspiration for a TV show, movies, board games, and countless toy figurines. In the UK, he was actually depicted as a black-haired hooligan, as seen in the middle.
11. The Barker Museum’s lunchbox collection is outrageous.
With over 1,600 alphabetized pails, you won’t have any trouble finding a few of your old lunchtime favorites. Their collection is only three shy of being complete. Literally. They are only missing three vintage lunchboxes in existence.
12. The special boxes are kept behind glass.
And for a good reason. These are (on average) worth $25,000!
13. Especially this Davy Crockett tin and thermos.
This mint condition set is worth $33,000!
14. Lamb Chop was sort of the mother to the Muppets.
Shari Lewis was a good friend of Jim Henson. She inspired his love of puppeteering and the Muppets.
15. This unique piece was an original View-Master model.
Remember those old school 3D slides? Well, this diorama was built and photographed to make them.
16. View-Master technology hasn’t changed much.
Original View-Master reels from the 1950s can still be viewed through today’s modern View-Master.
17. Remember collecting a graphic glass with your McDonald’s Happy Meal?
The Barker Museum has them all. Literally all.
18. Heroes in a half shell.
The TMNTs originally appeared as comic book characters in 1984. Barker’s action figure collection is second to none.
19. The Simpson’s couch IRL.
Another amazing movie premiere prop piece.
20. Betty Boop is a babe.
Max Fleischer’s star character had to be toned down after her initial 1930 release to appear a bit more demure.
21. Ventriloquist dolls are creepy.
That is all.
22. The Barker Museum also houses the world’s only complete collection of CelebriDucks.
What’s a CelebriDuck, you ask? Celebrity rubber duckies, of course. The only two CelebriDucks that don’t have the signature orange/yellow bills are President Obama and Michael Jackson.
23. Mickey Dugan, better known as The Yellow Kid, was the inspiration behind yellow journalism.
This bald, snaggle-toothed boy from the comic strip, Hogan’s Alley, wore an oversized yellow nightshirt and hung around in a slum alley (which was typical in certain areas of squalor that existed in late 19th century New York City).
24. Remember when cereal boxes used to have good toys inside?
The Barker Museum sure does. They have an extensive collection of boxes, and many still have their original cereal inside. And, yes, that is a full Franken Berry box.
25. Don’t miss the backyard.
It’s home to one of the largest murals in Connecticut, and several cartoon props. Perfect for photo ops.
All photos by Joseph Lin / BuzzFeed