'Flintstones' collector a rock-solid fan

June 10, 1994|By Lynne Bumpus-Hooper | Lynne Bumpus-Hooper,Orlando Sentinel

If it has a Flintstone on it, in it or near it, you can probably find it in Karen Lee's Flintstones Room.

We're talking wall-to-wall Bedrock here in this corner of Cocoa Beach, Fla.

Collecting the trinkets, gadgets, dolls, toys and food products emblazoned with Wilma, Fred, Barney and Betty has been a way of life for the 32-year-old exercise specialist at Wuesthoff Hospital in Rockledge since she was 5.

"I think the first thing I got was a jelly jar glass. 'The Flintstones' used to come on every Monday at 7 p.m., and it was the highlight of my life," Ms. Lee said as she was giving a tour of her personal archive.

As a hobby, Flintstones just sort of grew with her.

"There really weren't that many other cartoons or toys in the early '60s for kids to focus on. They just captured my attention and kept it," Ms. Lee said.

The growth of her attention is at such a stage now that it has taken over one room in her and husband Jim's home.

That room, of course, would be the one with the orange curtains with leopard spots on them, a la Fred's tunic.

More than 1,000 individual pieces line shelves and fill cases. The walls are covered with original cartoon cels, the freeze-frames used to make animated cartoons, and original 1962 comic strips. The terrazzo floor is covered with Flintstone place mats.

A Fred windsock hangs from the ceiling light fixture.

In addition to refrigerator magnets, watches, books, coloring books, toothbrushes, birthday napkins and tablecloths, watercolor paint sets, banks, pins and bottle tops, there are the food cartons which over the years have carried the likenesses of the Stone Age family.

On display are empty boxes of Cocoa Pebbles, full boxes of Flintstones macaroni and cheese, and full bottles of Pebbles Fruit Drink, some of which look like they have fermented to the explosive stage.

Who would have ever known that the Flintstones had sold so much stuff?

"It's really great just to come in here and go through things. I'm always finding something I'd forgotten about having," Ms. Lee said.

The collection has traveled with her in moves from Shreveport, La., where she grew up, to California and then to Cocoa Beach, where she and Jim have lived eight years.

In years past, the hobby was a little more difficult to pursue. With the release May 27 of "The Flintstones" movie, collecting is becoming a piece of cake.

The problem now is stopping herself, Ms. Lee said.

"I bought five boxes of Flintstone Band-Aids earlier this week and a rock Frisbee today," she said yesterday.

New on the market are Flintstones pillows, comforters, button covers, purses, shorts, T-shirts, socks and new jewelry items. Even underwear -- yes, Ms. Lee has six pairs. She is truly intimate with the Flintstones.

Jim Lee, a Rockwell engineer, said he didn't know the full extent of the hobby when the couple married, but he has joined right in the fun.

"He's a great sport about it all," she said.

"I've even stopped at a rummage sale or two on the way to play golf to see if I can spot anything, but she usually has better luck," he said.

And they definitely agree on one thing. If their home, just blocks from the Atlantic Ocean, is threatened by a hurricane, the Flintstones Room is the only thing they'll try to save beyond their "children," two Labrador retrievers who are not allowed near the collection.

"I'd be sick if anything happened to it," Ms. Lee said.

Her love of the Flintstones goes beyond the memorabilia collecting. Two Halloweens ago, she dressed up in a custom-made Dino costume.

This year she plans to dye her hair orange, put a bone in it and -- what else? -- go as Pebbles.

Ms. Lee carries a fake leopard skin checkbook cover with Flintstones checks in pretty pastels.

The couple saw the movie the first weekend it was out. They were the couple in line at the Merritt Square Theaters -- he's tall and dark-haired, and she was the one in the purplish-brown dinosaur suit.

"I had a blast. All the kids loved it. Jim wasn't too thrilled about dinner and a movie with Dino, but he got over it," she said.

It probably will not be the last time they see the movie, either.

Ms. Lee has followed the movie plans closely. She feared Rick Moranis would make a terrible Barney, "too wimpy." But she happily declared herself wrong. "He was great and Fred [John Goodman] was terrific."

She herself wanted to try out for the movie but aspired to be only a rock, she joked.

To Ms. Lee, being immersed in Flintstones data and Flintstones talk is a great pastime.

What could make her shout "Yabba dabba do"?

Her reply: "What I'd love is a job as the Flintstone historian for Universal."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.