He’s a small cheeky yellow bear armed with a magic wand who has entertained generations of youngsters spanning six decades.
Now loveable puppet Sooty is back on sale in the nation’s independent toy shops thanks to a Black Country businessman who spotted a gap in the market.
Alan Caswell, who owns The Arcade Toy Shop in Fountain Arcade, Dudley, got the idea of setting up a company to distribute children’s favourites Sooty, Sweep and Soo after he struggled to find anywhere to source the glove puppet toys.
He contacted Richard Cadell, Sooty’s current TV puppeteer and official rights owner and arranged to go and see him with his friend and fellow toy shop owner David Middleton.
They were able to persuade him to allow them to start selling the puppets in toy shops again. They had only previously been available through the Sooty Show website and at live shows.
Alan and David, of Midco Toys, who have three shops in Derby, formed DNA Toys to sell to the trade. Alan, aged 59, said that in the three weeks the puppets, which retail for £12.99, had been on sale about 2,000 had been sold across the country. “It is lovely to have Sooty back. He is an evergreen product and we think he is a sleeping giant of the toy industry,” he added.
DNA, chosen for Alan and David’s Christian name initials is initally selling to shops in the Toymaster independent chain.
The re-launch of the toys took place to coincide with airing of the latest Sooty TV series on ITV. Alan said he expected the first to arrive in time for the busy Christmas season. They will sell for £20. Sooty first appeared on screen in 1952 with Harry Corbett, the man who devised him. In the 1970s his son Matthew Corbett operated the puppet, sparking a new wave of popularity.