Melbourne Football Club Gerry Gee Barracker ventriloquist toy, with moving mouth mechanism.

This ventriloquist toy was produced in Melbourne in the early 1960s by Sterne Dolls as part of a range of toys based on the TV ventriloquist doll Gerry Gee, star of GTV Channel 9's `The Tarax Show'. They were designed to be sold at football grounds in Melbourne on match days, but this was soon abandoned after a rainy Saturday afternoon ruined many of the toys.

The toy was given to the vendor as a child by his father, Keith McDonald, who played trombone with the Channel 9 orchestra, who featured on such programs as Graham Kennedy's `In Melbourne Tonight'.

Physical Description

Consists of a printed paper label with the head and shoulders of a young man glued onto a piece of plywood, which has been cut to the same shape as the label. The mouth area has been cut out, behind which sits another piece of plywood, with lips and teeth printed on the front. This can be moved by a piece of string, with a metal ring attached, to simulate speech. It has been nailed to a section of dowel, which is used as the handle to hold the toy up. On the lower right front is pinned a rosette of red and blue (now faded to purple) ribbon, representing the colours of the Melbourne Football Club.


This toy is significant due to its relationship to Melbourne toy company L.J.Sterne Doll Company, one of the many local toy companies which ceased trading after the introduction of tariff reductions in the 1970s. Located in Carlton, it was established in the mid 1940s by by Austrian refugee Leo Sterne. It was soon one of the leading doll and toy manufacturers in Australia. Its peak period of production was during the 1950s and 1960s, when it was contracted to produce a number of TV-related toys, including various Gerry and Geraldine toys, and Humphrey, Fredd and FiFi soft toys. With continuous daily TV advertising, sales of these went through the roof, and Sterne had to employ more staff to cope with the demand. Growth continued to the mid 1970s. when the newly elected Labor Government decreased the tariffs imposed on imported goods, making them cheaper and it more difficult for Australian companies to compete.

This toy is also significant as an example of both early Melbourne television related merchandise and early VFL merchandise. Its flimsy construction make survival of such items a rarity. Gerry Gee was one of the most popular characters on local television in the 1960s, so it was not surprising that toys featuring him were one of the first examples of TV spin-off merchandise produced in Australia.

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