For Australian’s who grew up in the late 1980s and 1990s Agro – a furry, mop haired puppet controlled and voiced by comedian Jamie Dunn – was and still is an icon thanks to his role as presenter of the hugely successful children’s variety television show ‘Agro’s Cartoon Connection‘ (1989 to 1997).
Featuring a variety of female co-hosts during the years, and including skits, regular segments and cartoons such as ‘Samurai Pizza Cats’, ‘Sailor Moon’, ‘G.I. Joe’ and others – ‘Agro’s Cartoon Connection’, and by extension Agro himself was a daily viewed , early morning institution; and for many children of the era, a best friend and even substitute parent.
Monster like in appearance (all fur and exaggerated features), Agro embodied all the aspects of the classic Australian larrikin – a highly energetic character, full of playful rebellion and irreverent humor. Characteristics which helped endear Agro to children and adults alike. Indeed, ‘Agro’s Cartoon Connection’ would often feature risque adult jokes and references aimed at adults, that went straight over the head of it’s younger audience.
Due to his popularity, Agro soon became a merchandiser’s dream – and countless objects were produced and sold over the years bearing Agro’s likeness.
One man who grew up during Agro’s furry reign has made it one of his life missions to collect every Agro related object ever produced.
His name is Nathan Daley.
This is his story.
… well actually, it’s his interview; but it contains his story, along with lots of photos of his extensive Ago and non-Agro related collection.
Read it all, below…
Name and D.O.B?
I was born Nathan Andrew Daley on the 29th of march 1986.
I was six weeks premature and weighed 2800 grams. I had jaundice so they kept me in an incubator for a bit.
City, State and Country you currently call home?
City, State and Country you’re from?
I spent my formulative years stealing hose in Weston Creek, Canberra.
Please describe some memories from key stages of your life: concerts, art, toys, romance, hunting, music, school, politics, crime, religion… ANYTHING really!
* Age 5 – beginnings:
Living with my mother, reading Enid Blyton in the bath for hours on end.
The bloke out the back had an old bedford van he could legally drive around with his sliding drivers door latched open.
Waterbeds and tv with mum.
* Age 10 – continuations:
My parents are back together again and my little brother was born sick and lived in the hospital for a few years.
School counselors and nearly being expelled from school.
I bought Nirvana – Bleach and it changed my life, from then on all I could think about was guitar feedback and playing drums. Oh and finding pornos in the communal bin where we lived.
* Age 15 – getting serious:
Skating all day, heaps of cones, skipping school (the first time I remember the crippling anxiety that became a constant in my adult life) discovering hardcore punk and playing in shitty bands at 18+ venues that were happy to sell us booze.
Taking a lot of photos of bands.
Buying cheap Ninja Turtles toys at the markets and mum giving me Kiss figures for Christmas introduces me to toy collecting.
* Age 20 – young adult:
The vegan straight edge era.
Travelling to Sydney every week to see bands / playing in bands before getting a job and throwing myself into 80 hour weeks trying to forge a career after dropping out of school.
Eating nothing but tomato pasta and vego hot dogs.
Seeing Danzig live and watching Star Wars for the first time.
Trying to get my shit together.
* Age 25 – adult mode:
More 80 hour weeks.
Substances to keep me awake at night, substances to put me to sleep and more in the middle to help me forget.
Meeting my now wife which changed my life completely and still trying to get my shit together.
Transitioning from a vague appreciation of cool old things into the full blown collector mentality picking every day of the week.
Vietnamese food obsessed.
* Age 30 – fully formed:
Married, bought a house, trying to keep a 40 year old car on the road as my daily driver and buying and selling as much as I can find.
Realized film was a thing and threw myself headfirst into watching everything I could trying to make up for lost time.
Drank heaps of coffee.
Got my shit together a little bit but trying to keep it there is a struggle.
Went to Vietnam just to eat pho.
* Age 35 – meanderings:
I’ll tell you if and when i get there…..
Whilst we know you through your Agro fandom and collecting – care to share with those at home the details of your creative endeavours… if any?!
I haven’t had the time or motivation to be creative for far too long though I think I will try play some angry music again soon.
The most creative things I do lately is build weird bikes like the Malvern Star dragster trike with big drag race wheels off a car that I’ve been building recently.
Collecting and Agro Questions
Aside from Agro related stuff – what else do you currently collect; and what is it about those objects that so interests you?
I collect almost anything that holds interest to me. It’s hard to pinpoint any theme to it but I guess it’s all things kids would of been interested in from toys to bikes and skateboards, comics hot rod model kits etc etc.
60s to the mid 90s.
I have a couple old cars from the 70s and then posters / stickers / magazines / ephemera relevant to all those things
I often joke that if I don’t have something in the collection I just haven’t found it cheap enough yet.
I also have a large (thousands of each) collection of cds / dvds / vinyl records / vhs tapes etc but I view these differently as the reasoning for these lies in the art that’s contained within. Physical media is more important than ever in this homogenised Netflix / Spotify world we live in.
Any pivotal collecting moment(s) / influence(s)?
My main influences in everything I do have always been the people directly surrounding me.
My late grandfather was a car collector with a house full of ephemera, my other grandfather a tiprat always bringing stuff home to work on, my mother collects antiques and I spent years going to deceased estate auctions with her; and my father collected vintage cameras and guitars. So we were always looking for a bargain at the local cash converters. So there’s really no doubt why i am how i am.
As far as a moment in the same week in about 2008 i found a Reflex skateboard and a Sharp ghetto blaster that plays vinyl records vertically and from then on I’ve been scrounging almost every day.
Who are some fellow collectors that have most impacted your personal and collecting life? – Please tell us who they were, how they impacted you, and what has become of them today (if known).
I’m not sure any other collectors have really impacted my personal life. I’m a recluse and don’t have great relationships with others but there’s a lot of lovely people out there that know I collect and sell / Trade agro stuff to me.
There’s a bloke up north named Clinton who has found me some really rare stuff including a beach ball and a plaster moulded Agro.
He has a killer Kiss collection and a heap of Evel Knievel stuff.
Also Scott from Canberra has hooked me up with a heap of cool shit over the years and Katie seems to find me Mcdonaldland stuff i have never seen before.
How do you usually locate and source the objects in your collection?
I go to the local tip shop everyday almost daily. Markets and garage sales on weekends. Ebay and gumtree searches about 10 times a day. Op shops and second hand furniture shops on the weekends.
A lot of it comes straight to me these days as people know what I’m into and also know I will trade for anything Agro and I have a mean collection to pull from.
Oh.. and I’ve got business cards i’ll give to anyone who will take them.
What are the top 10 items in your Agro collection?
[Please also tell us a bit about the object(s) and also include photos of them!]
1 – Original boxed puppet.
The holy grail and what started it all for me trying to replace my lost childhood one.
2 – The trainset.
It’s literally just a 2 dollar plastic train that they stuck a sticker of Agro in a conductors hat on. Consumerism at its best and I love it.
3 – The BP servo sticker.
I didn’t know this existed and found it randomly listed on ebay looking for some other stickers. They hadn’t even mentioned Agro in the listing.
4 – The mask.
Broken but perfect.
5 – Backpack.
Colours are so rich and only the second I have ever seen. Would of been the envy of all of kindergarten in 1992.
6 – Pencilcase.
Perfect for in the backpack.
7 – Buzz bin game.
An electronic vibrating trash can. The point of the game is to open the lid and grab some rubbish without letting any of the flys jump out.
8 – The sealed Pog packs.
I missed a lot of 5 of them on ebay but managed to trade for two packs of them off the only other guy I know that collects Agro.
9 – Agro kraft singles watch.
Given to me by my mate who works at the dump. I guess you had to send in a bunch of barcodes of your cheese back in the day to get one.
10 – Fiona’s Super Saturday Show badge.
I can’t even find any info on the show and the drawing of Agro is so early and primitive.
What are the top 5 non-Agro related items in your collection?
[Please also tell us a bit about the object(s) and also include photos of them!]
1 – Masters of the Universe Eternia playset.
Even though it’s not complete most people dream of owning one and I was lucky enough to buy mine from a bloke in Sydney.
2 – Thundercats Electronic Cat Lair.
Had to get it from the States and it was an anxious wait for a month. Nowhere to put it at the moment so it lives in a box.
3 – Metallica skateboard.
Pushead art and Cockroach wheels (Editor: an Australian brand). I found another one recently at the markets round here for real cheap and in better condition but this one has a Sodom logo drawn on it with sharpie so it stayed and the other was traded for a 1985 Haro.
4 – My collection of Mego Planet of the Apes figures.
Got in a trade off a bloke for this huge box of Transformers I got from a mate who works at the dump. A week later I decided I should actually collect Transformers…. go figure.
5 – 1981 Profile Champ bmx.
Red Arayas and Diamond back bars. One piece cranks on a high end frame is kinda weird but that’s how it was found.
What to you are the differences between hoarding, collecting, and curating?
There’s a very fine line to me between collecting and hoarding. I’ve been accused of both and the difference to me is in how its displayed.
I guess collecting usually has a narrower focus for most but mine’s pretty wide and my available space to items brought home ratio is fairly out of wack.
I guess what I do with my Agro stuff could be considered curating as it’s more about finding the stuff you didn’t know existed and archiving and displaying it online which I do on my Facebook page called “Agros Cartoon Connection Museum”
When and why did you first start becoming interested in everything Agro!?
About 4 years ago just trying to replace my childhood puppet. Realizing how little was out there still compared to how hard it was merchandised and the fact that only 1 other bloke was collecting it I knew it was something only I was dumb enough to do.
Still to this day most things I find Agro wise I haven’t seen before.
If you had to explain Agro to some recently crash-landed aliens – what would you tell them?
Irreverent and narcissistic.
A bit of an asshole.
Made from a bathmat.
Have you ever met the man behind Agro – Mr Jamie Dunn – and if so, how did that experience go man?
I haven’t met him but he sent me a video once as Agro on Facebook.
I’m happy not too meet my heroes and live in a fantasy world where they aren’t normal people who have bad days too.
Odds and Ends
If you don’t belong, don’t belong.
I have it tattooed on my arm next to a grim reaper
What role did toys play in your childhood?
We didn’t have money for all the latest stuff. I could read well from a very young age so books and then cds were what counted and toys came when I was older.
Who was your 1st crush and why?
No way i can remember my first crush – I can’t remember what I ate for lunch. She was probably thick though… my love for thick girls rivals Robert Crumb’s.
Does sex change everything?
Of course it does.
It’s up too you and your partner to decide how it changes things though.
Please describe what you think the Australian psyche / zeitgeist is today?
It’s a bunch of people spouting some bullshit about “they are just saying what we are all thinking” and me thinking that they are a racist piece of shit.
Our government keeps us poor and teaches us to blame minorities.
Drugs – waste of time or gateway to the universe?
Definite gateway but keep it under control cos the same gate will close behind you and then you’re stuck wandering the streets forever tripping balls.
Drugs make things worse more often than they make things better
Please describe your latest dream in detail…
I don’t often have dreams that I can remember.
I’m more than often awake in the middle of the night worrying about work.
Who would win in a fight and why: Agro Vs. Humphrey B. Bear?
[Please draw the battle in all its violent beauty – if able!]
Humphrey has no pants and Agro would fight dirty knowing where to aim.
Which cartoon character, would you most like to see in a tribute sex toy, and why?
[Please draw a prototype of your design for our readers – if able!]
Meckaneck from He Man would make a great extending male g spot tool but any of the two head toys (Two Bad from MOTU, Headbanger from Toxic Crusaders and the two headed imperial dragon) would make a great double penetration dildo.
Of everything you have done what would you most like to be remembered for and why?
Nothing that I’ve done yet is worth remembering.
I’d like to think i have some time to rectify this.
If people wanted to trade with you, attempt to sell you something, or just have a chat – how should they get in touch?
Hit me up on instagram @mercyful_nate
Any collaborations on the horizon?
‘been getting some stuff together for a bootleg cassette tape series I’m gonna call “Ripped Off in the Capital”.
First one will be Morbid Angel playing Uni Bar in 1992 and the second will be the infamous Damaged live at the Terrace Bar recording.
Any major projects you want to hype?
I’ve been thinking a lot about a museum exhibit here. Mostly Agro but possibly themed towards all Australian children’s television. I think I will approach NFSA or Canberra Museum and Gallery about it.
Time will tell whether its viable.