Whilst travelling back from a toy fair where I saw a couple of Banana Splits toys, The Dickies version of the Banana Splits Tra La La song came on the radio. I was a massive fan of the show when I was younger so I thought I would indulge myself and cobble together a feature and on Collecting the Banana Splits and Banana Splits collectibles. The feature includes some vintage and newer Banana Splits collectibles and a price guide for the items.
In 1967, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera approached Sid Krofft and Marty Krofft to design costumes for a television show which would feature animated and live-action segments, with the whole show hosted by a bubblegum rock group of anthropomorphic characters. The format of the show was loosely based on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. The Banana Splits Adventure Hour premiered on NBC on September 7, 1968.
Each show represented a meeting of the “Banana Splits Club”, and the wraparounds featured the adventures of the club members, who doubled as a musical quartet, meant to be reminiscent of The Monkees. The main characters were Fleegle, a beagle (possibly crossed with a flat-coated retriever); Bingo, an orange-furred gorilla (possibly, half-orangutan); Drooper, a lion; and Snorky, called “Snork” in the theme song lyrics, an elephant. Fleegle would assume the role as leader of the Banana Splits and preside at club meetings. The characters were played by actors in voluminous fleecy costumes similar to later Sid and Marty Krofft characters such as H.R. Pufnstuf. They all spoke in English – Drooper with a Southern drawl in the manner of Michael Nesmith, Fleegle with a pronounced lisp – except for Snorky who “spoke” in honking noises.
The Banana Splits’ segments included cartoons, songs, comedy skits, and live action features. Cartoons included Arabian Knights, The Three Musketeers and repeats of The Hillbilly Bears, a cartoon segment that previously appeared on The Atom Ant Show (1965–1968). The show’s live-action segments included Danger Island, a cliffhanger serial, as well as the short-lived Micro Ventures, an animated series consisting of only four episodes.
For the first season, some of the live-action segments – specifically those used during the musical segments – were shot at Six Flags Over Texas, an amusement park located in Arlington, Texas. For the second season, filming took place at Coney Island amusement park in Cincinnati, Ohio. In many episodes, the Banana Splits would be seen riding on the Runaway Mine Train roller coasters, Log Flumes, Bumper Cars, Merry-Go-Rounds, and many other rides at Six Flags and Coney Island.
The Sour Grapes Bunch is a group of human girl characters from the Banana Splits. One of the members of the club – Charley, usually played by Shirley Hillstrom – would bring a written note to the Splits. None of the Sour Grapes spoke in the entire series; however, they would also do a number with the Banana Splits. In the first-season episode on October 5, 1968, a song debuted entitled “Doin’ The Banana Split,” as all five girls appeared together with the Splits.
The Banana Buggies and Toys
Who didn’t want a Banana Splits buggy? The Banana splits buggies were customized Amphicat six-wheel drive all-terrain vehicles each decorated to resemble the character who drove them. These were seen driven by each live-action character in the opening and closing segments and occasionally in show segments.
The closest most collectors will get to the Banana Buggy were the plastic 1/25 scale model kits issued by Aurora Plastics Corporation in 1969 and discontinued in 1971. These were only out for two seasons and when seen a mint in box edition will sell for over $200. A recent sale on ebay saw a excellent example sell for £220 ($281).
Funko released a series of four Dorbz Ridez models in 2016 based on the series released in editions of 300 at the San Diego Comic Con (Banana Buggy with Bingo and Banana Buggy with Bingo with Snorky) and New York Comic Con (Banana Buggy with Fleegle and Banana Buggy with Bingo with Drooper) . These are now selling for between $75 and $100 each.
Banana Splits and Comics
Gold Key began publishing a comic version of The Banana Splits’ adventures in 1969, releasing eight issues through 1971. The series was drawn by Jack Manning and followed the Banana Splits team trying to find work or on the road between gigs. Issue number 1 in high grade VFNM CGC 9.0 will sell for about $150.
In 2017 DC comics made a Banana Splits had a crossover with the Suicide Squad in Suicide Squad/Banana Splits Annual #1.
Banana Splits Reference
Professor Plastic the banana splits banana buggy