The Phantom Syroco was produced by Multi-Products, Inc. in Chicago, USA in 1944. 24 little statue style figures make up a full set of characters licensed to King Features Syndicate at the time.
The characters found in the set are the Phantom, Blondie, Dagwood, Alexander, Cookie, The Captain, The Katzenjammer Kids (Hans and Fritz), Maggie, Jiggs, Rosie (from Rosie’s Beau), Popeye, Olive Oyl, Wimpy, Toots, Casper, Annie Rooney, Archie, Barney Google, The Little King, Flash Gordon, Prince Valiant, Tillie the Toiler and Tim Tyler.
In the 1890s, Adolph Hostein, owner of the Syracuse Ornamental Company, developed a formula consisting of wood compound and casting fluids that could be poured into molds. The resulting casting appeared to be hand-carved. The company manufactured a wide range of decorative accessories ranging from ashtrays to wall sconces. The Syracuse Ornamental Company became Syroco Inc., in the 1930s.
Walt Disney licensed Multi-Products in the 1940s to produce a set of comic figures from the movie ‘Pinocchio’. Multi-Products did them in Syroco wood. Collectors insert a second ‘c’ into the word to now spell ‘Syrocco’, to indicate a figure or object made by a company other than the parent company, Syroco Inc. In addition to the Walt Disney figures, Multi-Products produced a series of 24 figures based on comic characters from King Features Syndicate, which were distributed as premiums by Pillsbury.
The 6″ wood-look statues were originally sold in 1944 in dime stores for 25 cent, with some offered only as mail-in premiums for Cream of Wheat and Farina cereals (see below advertisement). The statues appear to be carved wood, however they’re actually produced using a mold, with the materials used being made up of a sawdust/wood fiber/resins composite.
The Phantom Syroco was offered in 2 different colors, in purple and also in a brown finish, with only 500 of each produced. The Phantom is seen with crossed arms in a standing position on a round disc, with the word ‘Phantom’ seen on the front and ‘1944 K.F.S’ on the rear. Both versions are hand painted once removed from the casting mold.
The Phantom Syroco came in a cardboard box featuring illustrations of a mix of comic book characters, with the same box used for all 24 King Features Syndicate figures. The character name found within the box is hand-stamped on the side, on one of the flaps used to open the box. The figures were also wrapped in a corrugated piece of cardboard before being placed into the box.