Friday, July 27, 2012

This Steiff Post Is Truly A Double-Header

There is an old saying, "two heads are better than one"... and nothing could be more true than in the case of this exceptional Steiff rarity.  Steiffgal recently had the unexpected pleasure of receiving this "larger than life" inquiry from a reader from the mid-Atlantic part of the United States.  Take a look (or a double take!) at her "celebrity" studio treasure.  Over a series of emails, she shares...

"I am contacting you about a giant Pushmi-Pullyu llama.  It was used a promotional device for the movie, Doctor Doolittle. It has a silver metal ear tag with Steiff engraved on it.  Its white fur is synthetic  - longer on the body and shorter on the faces. 

The llama has the following measurements:
  • Nose to Nose: 75 inches
  • Height of Back: 40 inches
  • Front foot - front foot: 45 inches
Any information would be much appreciated!" 

Well, it's certainly time to take a walk on the wild side with this amazing beast!  What we have here is indeed Steiff's studio, or life sized version of the Pushmi-Pullyu llama from the movie Doctor Doolittle.  It is extremely rare; Steiffgal knows of only one other example of this item and has only seen it mentioned once in any Steiff reference book.  The two headed llama also does not appear in the Steiff Sortiment books, but this is not terribly unexpected as sometimes "customer specials" and studio items like these from many years back were not as carefully recorded as they are today.   

Technically, Steiff studio items have to meet two key requirements. First, they either have to be "life sized" or a special, large size designed for display or authenticity. Second, they need to be manufactured in a special area of the factory, a building towards the back of the campus where these spectacular showpieces are assembled and detailed one by one. All in all, studio animals are unique, hand made treasures that truly are iconic to Steiff.  But this Pushmi-Pullyu llama truly deserves double accolades!

This two headed llama represents a very cool intersection of Steiff creativity and movie history.  The original Doctor Doolittle movie was released in 1967.  Many people mistakenly believe that the movie was produced by Disney but in fact it was made by the company now known as 20th Century Fox Studios. (Interestingly, Disney's The Jungle Book opened on the same week as Doctor Doolittle!) The studio spent a tremendous amount of money advertising their Doctor Doolittle movie.  That being the case, it is no surprise that they would invest in life sized pieces that could be used on the red carpet at openings and promotions.  1967 was one of two years in the 1960's (the other one was 1960) when Steiff produced some of their most fantastic and creative studio items.  In 1967, in its standard line, Steiff produced a 100 and a 150 cm standing llama. In 1960 they produced a 150 cm standing vicuna.  This Pushmi-Pullyu llama is based strongly on these patterns and incorporates many of their design elements, including his huge eyes, his facial expression and construction, as well as the overall shape of the legs, carriage, and head.  However, unlike the standard line llama and vicuna, this Pushmi-Pullyu llama is head jointed. 

And now for the studio sized question on everyone's mind... his value.  As always, Steiffgal is not a formal appraiser and truly believes something is worth what someone will pay.  She has not seen the item firsthand so she cannot attest to its structural integrity, wear, and aesthetic qualities.  However, he is simply breathtaking, totally unexpected, one of just a handful ever made, and a great piece of American film history.  Assuming that the llama is in very good to excellent condition, without any rips, tears, holes, odors, severe fading, or other structural or aesthetic issues, he MAY value in the $5,000-7,500 range given his rarity and tie-in to the entertainment industry.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion of this amazing Steiff Pushmi-Pullyu llama has been more entertaining than an evening out at the movies for you.

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  1. Wow! Now THAT's something you don't see every day!

  2. That's a gorgeous piece! - Gina


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