Saturday, January 4, 2014

Tag, You're It, When It Comes To This Unusual Steiff Promotional Item

Tag - you're it - when it comes to this Steiff treasure with an abundance of labeling.  In addition to the "standard" 1970's era Steiff IDs of a button in ear, yellow ear tag, and red and yellow "split" style chest tag, this toddler-esque cub also has washing instructions, his original price tag, store label, and a most unusual promotional tag.  Let's take a look at this Teddy ambassador from the German publishing world and see what makes him so interesting from the design and collector perspectives. 

This well read (and red, in some respects) bear is Toddel. He is 32 cm, standing, and head jointed.  Toddel is made from beige dralon, with trivera velvet paw pads and a small tan mohair muzzle.  He has very flat feet, which allow him to stand on his own. His face is detailed with oversized brown and black pupil eyes, a black hand embroidered nose and mouth, and light airbrushed highlights.  Toddel was made in this size only from 1971 through 1982 as a promotional item for the German magazine Eltern, which is still in business today.  

Eltern translates to "Parents" - and this periodical indeed is chock full of information and guidance for moms, dads, and young families.  However, it is not entirely clear if Toddel's design is/was representative of the Eltern mascot or logo, or was just a sweet bear made as a somewhat customized advertising specialty for this publishing house.  Toddel has a very similar appearance and body shape to that of Soft Bear Toldy, a beige dralon bear produced in 30 and 40 cm from 1970 through 1979.

It's hard to miss Toddel's unusual and most prominent tag - red on the outside, white on the inside - which is suspended from a red silk ribbon.  The tag reads "Eltern" on one side, and "Toddel" on the reverse.  The inside of the tag is pictured on the left and basically says how parents can now buy Toddel stories on the Maritim record label, that Eltern has a special children's section in its monthly magazine, and that parents can also buy Toddel puzzles made by JW Spear and Sons of Nurnberg. 

Despite his relatively simple construction and design, this Toddel has several interesting features and details that make him a very good read for collectors.

1.  First, and somewhat randomly, Toddel appears in the 1947-2003 Steiff Sortiment book in the "Bears and Teddy Bears" chapter, despite clearly being a co-branded product with the magazine; customer special items, like this one, almost always appear in the "Promotional and Film Animals" chapter of this reference book.

2.  Second, Toddel's special Eltern tag is detailed with two actual Steiff buttons.  Steiff hardly ever uses their buttons for detailing the packaging or labeling of a product; they are far more likely to use buttons on the clothing or shoes of an item.  The only other item that Steiffgal can recall offhand where Steiff used buttons on something "disposable" related to an item was the clear plastic boxes used to package the woolen miniature mobiles, back in the late 1960's and early 1970's. 

3.  Third, this particular Toddel, which was clearly made for the German marketplace, was purchased at FAO Schwarz in New York City in 1976.  Toddel retains his original red wooden FAO Schwarz bell tag, as well as his FAO Schwarz price tag, stating that he cost $22.50 at the time.  It is curious to consider why such a country specific, niche item would end up for sale so far away from its key target audience!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Eltern magazine's Toddel has been a great page turner for you!

Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures, family or otherwise? Let's talk! Click here to learn more.

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