Oshkosh visitors can now own an authentic, full-size ceramic replica of the famous water pitcher that was kept on the mantle of the 918th Bomb Group officers' club in Darryl Zanuck's classic 1949 movie, 12 O'clock High, which signaled that a mission was to start. For years after, people searched for the ½ gallon icon; Pete Plumb, and engineer, located its last known owner.
He got deeper and deeper into the lore and the myth of the mug, known today as a "Toby Mug," more-properly a British character mug (as a proper toby mug was more of a bust, rather than a head). The Robin Hood likeness held a fascination for him.
The original from the film was given by 20th Century Fox to Frank Armstrong, a veteran of the real 306th, upon which many said the movie's "918th" was based. It later sat on the mantle at his niece's house; decades ago, it was stolen and never recovered.
Pete researched the mug, looking at its image in the movie and later in a television series, and used several techniques to scale his replica. "I'm an engineer, not an artist," he says, so I applied engineering techniques to making the mold. Each mug is hand-painted "by a real artist," he says.
Demand over the past 22 years (!) has been amazing. Plumb is on his 9th run of 500 mugs, many of which are coveted by history buffs, but more by movie buffs. "My late father's 487th has one in its officers' club," Pete notes. And they are great conversation starters in memorabilia rooms, man caves, and clubs around the world.
They are available in Hangar C, 3047 (Contact! magazine's booth) and in the Ultralight area at Thunderbird Aviation, where Pete will give you more of the lore, in section 947A.
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