Steiffgal recently attended her 25th high school reunion. And yes, she did bring along some Steiff, in the form of her beloved Charly purse (a North American limited edition from 2005). The event triggered two thoughts. The first one is obvious: how quickly time passes. The second was a bit more unexpected: it's really nice to connect with old friends. Some things are just better together, and the same is true with Steiff collectibles. Take a look at four item pairs from over the years that truly exemplify "friends for life".
Mecki and Micki could be considered the "royal couple" for Steiff. They were first designed in Germany in 1940 by the artist Ferdinand Diehl. They became much more famous in the early 1950's with their regular appearance on the German TV magazine HORZU. This hedgehog family, including the father (Mecki), mother (Micki), and their children (Macki and Mucki) remain popular to this day, with "Mecki" fan clubs and merchandise available across Germany. The Diehl Film company from Munich granted Steiff the licensing rights to produce the dolls in 1951, and they have been a mainstay in the line to this day. Both Mecki and Micki have been produced in 17, 28, and 50 cm from 1952 onward; a 100 cm Mecki was produced in 1967, perhaps as a special window display.
These particular Mecki and Micki dolls are the 17 cm size and date from the mid 1960's, as their heads are made from vinyl. Earlier versions had latex heads which tended to crack very easily. They both are head and arm jointed and have wonderful white-tipped mohair hair. Their bodies are made from felt; Mecki has a fuzzy blond mohair chest. Mecki wears his traditional work outfit including "dirty" and "patched" grey trousers, a red and white checkered shirt, and brown felt vest. Micki sports red and black checkered skirt, a blue and black checkered top, and a white, well-used apron. Both have black felt shoes.
Hop to it and take a look at this next great duo. Here we have the 50 cm Steiff Kaenguruh Kangoo or Kangaroo Kangoo. Kangoo was produced from 1953 through 1966. She is head and arm jointed and made from blond mohair. Her ears are lined in grey felt and she has large, adorable pupil eyes. In her pouch she has a 7 cm blond unjointed velvet joey baby. This model was also made in 14, 28, and 65 cm; the smaller sizes had a plastic joey while the largest size had a mohair joey.
This terrific two-some is the Mama and Baby Set 1903, from 1981. It follows on the heels of the wildly successful Papa Bear 1903, which was produced in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Steiff company in 1980. This set was one of the first limited edition replicas produced as a United States exclusive. Mama is 38 cm and baby is 15 cm. Both are five ways jointed and are made from long blond mohair. They are joined together via a lovely orange ribbon imprinted with "Margarete Steiff Ltd. Edition Knopf im Ohr" across the front. The set was produced in an edition size of 8,000 pieces.
And finally, it takes two to stay warm, and this penguin set does just that. Here we have Pingu and Pinga, the famous "pingunese" speaking claymation cartoon characters from the TV show Pingu. Pingu (the slightly larger more black boy) and his sister Pinga (the slightly smaller more white girl) are both head jointed and made from mohair. They have felt feet and beaks. Pingu is 13 cm and Pinga is 12 cm. They were made as a 1,500 piece limited edition set for Sony in Japan in 2000. Pingu originally ran for 6 seasons for a total of 156 episodes; it is, and remains popular worldwide due to its universally understood language and simple story themes. You can check out some of the funnier episodes by clicking here and here... and here... but be fair warned, this program is TOTALLY ADDICTIVE (in a good way!)
Steiff is certainly a great way to bring folks together for a good time. Perhaps Margarete Steiff was referring to more than just Teddies and animals when she said Steiff was all about "Friends for Life!"
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