Should you be digging in your old stuff for The Noid collectibles? Maybe, maybe not, but the red-suited villain always stuck with me as an odd pop culture figure, with a strange dark timeline.
The almost forty-year-old character recently returned to Domino’s TV ads in 2021 and also is featured as a mini-boss in the Crash Bandicoot mobile game. So let’s dig into the past and see if this rascal might be worth investing in.
The Noid debuted on September 26th, 1986.
The advertising Mascot for Domino’s Pizza was created by Group 243, an agency in Michigan. The idea began with Domino’s wanting to push word of their delivery, which, believe it or not, was not fully accepted in the way we think of it now. There was a lot of pushback at the time, and their biggest competitor, Pizza Hut, really had a stranglehold on the market with their sit-in restaurants.
The company wanted to test a “30 minutes or it’s free” campaign and ad executive Tom Masters asked, “Why don’t we create a villain?” Copywriter Matt Thornton then asked, “Why don’t we call him The Noid?”, which was a play on Domino’s employees internally calling themselves “Dominoids.”
With all of that, The Noid was born.
The character was a massive hit and like other 80’s cultural sensations California Raisins and Max Headroom, went on to become a pop culture sensation. Like The Raisins, the character was animated by Will Vinton. The Noid even cameoed in Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker video!
Domino’s says fans couldn’t get enough of the wacky character and before long were contracting out the merchandising rights to different vendors. This led to dolls, action figures, posters, pins, and eventually video games and comics!
In 1989, Avoid the Noid was released for MS-DOS and Commodore 64 by Sharedata. Sales for this game are to be hard to come by.
Also in 1989, Blackthorne Publishing released a two-issue comic called The Noid in 3-D. Complete with 3-D glasses, which were a big fad in comics at the time. Blackthorne were known at the time for comics by California Raisins, Rambo, Dick Tracy and even a Michael Jackson Moonwalker series.
While sales are slim to none for these two Noid issues, they have been recently selling for over $50 on eBay as recently as August 2023. At the time of writing this, there was even an issue #2 hovering around $300 on eBay.
In 1990, Nintendo released Yo! Noid. This is one piece of Noid memorabilia that has seen more than a few sales. In April 2021, a WATA-graded 9.4 sealed copy sold for $3,600 on eBay, narrowly missing a chance to unseat the record-holding sale of $3,840 for a WATA 9.6 A in September of 2020.
Like many other collectibles, prices have come back to earth in 2023. An 8.5 CGC graded game sold for $240 at Heritage Auctions and a CIB WATA 9.6 realized $750 – both sales in April of 2023.
The Nintendo version was released in Japan as Kamen no Ninja Hanamaru and was based around the engine of Wagan Land with updated graphics, but most other elements still remain. The instruction manual of the Yo Noid! version featured a $1 Domino’s coupon.
In the mid-to-late 80s into the early 90s, the sky was the limit for the character.
There were talks of a CBS cartoon, but the channel was a little shy about creating a show based solely around an advertising figure.
The Noid was bigger than just a TV commercial, at this point and way more successful than Domino’s could’ve ever hoped for. Tim McIntyre, Vice President of Communications at Domino’s, but at that point an editor, said that they were getting massive amounts of letters and phone calls. Customers were going into stores and just demanding more and more. It caught fire and seemed to get bigger and bigger.
Everything good comes to an end.
That was all until a very tragic event in January of 1989. Tim McIntyre had this to say on the podcast Studio 360 with Kurt Anderson,
“There was a young man named Kenneth Lamar Noid who, from all accounts, had some mental health issues. He must have heard “we’re avoiding the Noid” far too many times and he began to internalize that. He came to believe that we were somehow targeting him individually for ridicule, and he needed a way to get back at us. And so he went into one of our stores.”
Sean Burnsed, a 21-year-old employee in Chamblee, GA, was opening the store when Kenneth pulled a gun on him and another employee. He then proceeded to hold them hostage for over 5 hours with a .357 magnum. He asked to speak with the president of Domino’s and demanded $100,000, a getaway car, and a copy of the book The Widow’s Son by Robert Anton Wilson.
The hostages at one point made a pizza for Mr. Noid and while he was eating it, they managed to escape. Kenneth was apprehended and found not guilty due to reason of insanity. He spent time in a mental institution before being released.
Surprisingly enough, this wasn’t the end of the advertising campaign, as you can see from the release of video games the following year. But also in increasingly sad news, Kenneth Lamar Noid took his own life in 1995.
At this moment, Domino’s decided it was best to end the campaign out of respect for the family and due to the blemish that this would understandably leave on image of the character and the brand. For the last 25+ years, the character remained dormant, save a few references on shows such as Family Guy, The Simpsons, and 30 Rock.