The Phantom Vending Machine Figure Toy was produced by Sugar Loaf in partnership with the International Museum of Cartoon Art in USA in 1998.
The International Museum of Cartoon Art was founded by Mort Walker in 1974. The Museum was created to collect, preserve and exhibit original works of cartoon art from all over the world. In 1992, the museum relocated from New York to Boca Raton, Florida, USA where its new facility opened to the public in March of 1996.
In 1998, King Features Syndicate issued a license agreement to the International Museum of Cartoon Art, who manufactured 3 different 12”-13” character toys. The Phantom toy was made of hard plastic while Hagar the Horrible and Helga were both made in plush materials. The Sugar Loaf Toy Company (a Vending Machine company at the time) partnered with the International Museum of Cartoon Art to market the project.
The Phantom Vending Machine Figure Toy measures 12” in height, made of plastic, with posable body parts, including the head, arms and legs. We see the Phantom figure below, in his purple costume as he’s know in USA.
The tag/label which was attached to the Phantoms wrist can be seen below.
The Vending Machine Toy Figure’s were never sold nor marketed in stores, but only available for a very short time in crane/claw game vending machines in select areas on the East coast of the United States. The machines are know as ‘Sugar Loaf Toy Shoppe’ machines, manufactured by the American Coin Merchandising, Inc. company, produced from 1995.
The figures were obtained by playing the claw machine game for $5.00, with the player maneuvering and dropping the claw mechanism over the desired toy. The toy wasn’t always grasped by the machine, resulting in the player needing to try again to collect the toy.
The other King Features Syndicate licensed characters, Hagar the Horrible and Helga plush toys produced by Sugar Loaf can be seen below.
Thank you Christopher Smith for assisting with images and information.