FingerBang - a word that now strikes horror in the souls of toymakers worldwide. - Dr. Mongchold, CEO of Muttel, 1978 to 1983.
As the Edsil nearly destroyed Ford, the FingerBang almost destroyed one of this planet's mightest toy manufacturers, Muttel. Here is its story.
The late 1970s were a slow time for the toy retailers, the Dealy Bopper was still some years off and Monopoly had caused so many homocides that it was banned in most countries. Then up stepped newly-appointed CEO of Muttel, Severous Mongchold.
Mongchold had already given the world classic board games such as Gobble Gobble, Vermin Tupp and Beat The Irish, but he wanted to take Muttel into new toy dimensions. The board game sector was flat, he declared at the 1979 stockholder's meeting.
Mongchold looked to the East and saw that the Chinese were enjoying a new fad of finger-related toys. He eventually hit upon the idea of a new toy based on a simple finger puppet he had seen demonstrated in one of the many Beijing toy making sweatshops he had visited on a whirlwind tour of China.
Mongchold directed his factories to make a finger puppet that could make a popping sound when the wearer clicked their fingers together. When his toy scientitions received the specification for the device, the only material that they had available to make the puppet work was gun cotton.
The toy was released in May of 1983, and children lapped up the toy. The sound of fingerbanging became as common as the chink of marbles or the sounds of rude skipping chants. Even adults started playing with the FingerBang; office managers had to issue edicts to prevent the clamour of pops destroying productivity. Muttel was lauded for its revitalisation of the industry and there was talk of a Nobel Toy Prize for Mongchold. Summer sales were expected to exceed those for the Tickle My Postman of 1967.
Then it got hot. Very hot. The summer of 1983 was a parcher for the midwest of the United States. Anecdotal stories of flashes of light whilst using the FingerBang were quickly replaced with hard news that children were losing their fingers in violent explosions. Then came the first death by FingerBang. Muttel was chased through the courts and found guilty of corporate manslaughter; "Fingered to death" became the phrase-de-jour of the tabloids.
Mongchold was quicky forced out of Muttel and made bankrupt. Today, he tours the lecture circuit and has written a number of books on his experiences, he is much sought after as an after-dinner speaker and is reported to be an non-executive directory of a number of defence companies. He received his doctorate in 1989 after researching the possible applications of gun cotton gloves.