“Easily changed disguises create thousands of pretend friends… Disguises fit on Hugo as well as youngsters.

Hugo can be anything his master wants him to be… a villain, a hero, a comic character, or a scary guy. Facial disguises easily adhere with a special non-toxic glue. Hugo is also a hand-held puppet. Enough disguises for over 1,000 different combinations.

Set Contents: 13″ Hugo complete with cloak, disguises including wigs, moustache, assorted scars, moles, false noses, eye glasses, chins, and non-toxic glue sticks.”

So read the back of the box to one of the most off-putting children’s toys of the 1970s.

Okay, that probably wasn’t its intention. However, thanks to its large rubber head and blank blue-eyed stare, this petrifying puppet looked as though it would be more at home hanging out in a horror flick rather than providing hours of feature-swapping fun in a world that predated streaming and social media.

Yet, that’s exactly what it did! And, if you were a kid growing up in the 1970s, chances were very good that you or a friend had at least one of these freaky things taking up some space in your toy box.

Let’s take a look back at Hugo – Man Of A Thousand Faces…

A Master Of Disguise

Released by Kenner in 1975, Hugo was a 13” hand puppet dressed in an unassuming grey cloak whose appearance could be changed using a variety of different accessories such as wigs, facial hair, false noses, and glasses.

Disguises included with Hugo Man Of A Thousand Faces

Created by Alan Ormsby, Hugo featured a soft rubber head and hard plastic hands. While most versions released also featured arms that were stuffed with cotton, Kenner did release some versions of the toy in international markets with plastic arms.

The toy came packaged in a large cardboard box that showcased images of him wearing different disguises.

What’s In The Box?

Hugo featured lifelike facial characteristics and came complete with over twenty different accessories.

These included a wig, a goatee, two sideburns, a mask, four eyebrows/moustaches, two noses, two pairs of glasses, two chins, an eye patch, two eye pieces, a bandage (complete with a fake blood stain), four scars, a set of fangs and several warts and moles.

This large variety of additional parts allowed kids to, according to Kenner’s original TV commercial and print ads for the toy: “Create villains, funny faces, scary faces, pirate faces, etc.” As an added bonus, all of the included accessories could be worn by children in addition to being used with the toy.

Kids could use Hugo's accessories

The toy, which clearly took more than a little inspiration from Hasbro’s much more popular Mr. Potato Head doll, also came with sticks of non-toxic glue that allowed kids to attach the included pieces to the toy’s face and head temporarily.

While North American versions of the toy included two glue sticks, UK versions sold through Denys Fisher Toys instead came with a tub of the non-toxic substance.

‘70s Pop Culture Puppet

In the years since its release, Hugo has become one of the most sought-after toys of the 1970s.

While loose, incomplete versions tend to pop up on sites like eBay occasionally, finding a complete example with all of the included accessories has become quite a monumental task.

More often than not, parts are missing and the glue has since dried up. At the same time, boxed dolls are becoming increasingly rare, with sealed versions having pretty much become non-existent.

Hugo has also made many appearances throughout popular culture, popping up on classics such as The Pee-Wee Herman Show, Uncle Floyd’s Variety Show, The Venture Bros, and in a segment of the hit AMC variety series Comic Book Men from Kevin Smith.

The toy has also appeared in music videos, film, and television and has even been the subject of a song where he serves as a rival to fellow face-changer Mr. Potato Head.

Yeah, he’s creepy. But, I suppose he’s also kind of cool.