Japanese TV Interviews Gumby Creator’s Son About Shanghai Expo Mascot
Hats off to Japan’s NTV news reporting team. I didn’t think there was much more that could be said about Shanghai Expo mascot Haibao’s resemblance to Gumby, but NTV has gone the extra mile – sending their people to interview the American owner of the Gumby copyright about the issue. Here’s a clip of the full report that aired yesterday [skip to 3:17 if you only want to see the interview with Gumby's owner]:
The report starts out with footage from Shanghai, where Chinese visitors refuse to follow basic manners when lining up for pavilions and seem to be littering the Expo grounds instead of properly disposing of trash. We are also shown street merchants who are selling bootlegged Haibao dolls out of black trash bags (customers know they’re probably fake, but don’t care).
Chinese people who are shown pictures of Haibao and Gumby think they are different and that there was no intentional copying. A look at a Gumby toy in an American store seems to show that Haibao’s signature pose is almost like Gumby’s signature pose. New Yorkers interviewed think Haibao looks like Gumby but is not quite Gumby.
They then speak to Joe Clokey, son of Gumby’s creator Art Clokey. Although he was apparently unaware of the existence of the Chinese mascot character, based on the pictures provided by NTV, he said he thought Haibao looked ”inspired by Gumby” and noted that if anyone wanted to use Gumby, they need only contact him. He added that Gumby can go to China, but it already looks like they’ve got a Gumby over there!
In the previous post about the Gumby/Haibao issue, a Chinese official was quoted as saying the following:
“Haibao was unveiled a long time ago. If anyone thinks that their copyright has been violated, that person would already have used legal means to address this by now.”
Based on NTV’s reporting, it looks like the Expo Officials’ assumption about Haibao being known to Gumby’s owners was false. However, at this time it is not clear whether or not Joe Clokey plans to pursue legal action against the Expo for copyright violations.