Saturday, February 22, 2014

Having A Ball With This Wonderful And Unusual Steiff Play Pony

Check out this bouncing bundle of joy!  No, Steiffgal is not talking about a precious new baby here, but one of the wonderful Steiff birthday gifts she received a few days ago from a dear friend.  Although this treasure is not technically vintage, it is based upon a delightful and beloved toy that has its roots in the early 1980's.  Do you recognize her from your childhood, or perhaps your kid's or grandchildren's toy box?  

Check out the "Toy Story" behind this unusual play pal.  Here we have Steiff's "Rody" pony.  She is unjointed and about 17 cm tall and 17 cm long.  Steiffgal's Rody is made from bright red mohair, but she was also produced in a mostly yellow version, which is pictured here on the left.   Steiffgal's Rody has a heart-shaped patch of orange mohair on her back and a white embroidered heart on her forehead.  She is embroidered with six orange circles and the word "Rody" on each side of her body.  Her face is detailed with white and brown embroidered eyes and a happy white embroidered smiling mouth.  Rody has a distinctly round, ball-like look and feel to her overall.  As noted above, Steiff produced Rody in two color versions:  red and orange and yellow and red.  Each version was made in an edition size of 1,000 pieces exclusively for Japan in 2007.  

Let's rein in the history behind this colorful colt.  Rody is based on a globally recognized and beloved inflatable child's toy designed for riding fun and exercise; she is pictured here on the left.  The Rody character was introduced in 1984 by an Italian company called Ledraplastic.  Rody's general pattern was created by "melting" together play balls of various sizes in order to give her a friendly and juvenile appearance.  The original Rody is 54 cm tall and 45 cm long and made from a very durable and bouncy latex free vinyl.  Believe it or not, Rody can support up to 400 pounds, according to the manufacturer!  Originally, the company wanted to name the toy "Rodeo" but were concerned with patent infringement and other legal issues.  Today, Rody is manufactured in a spectrum of 16 rainbow colors, and is also produced in a larger size (Rody Max) that can support adults, as well as a smaller companion size called Rody Jr.   

Although Steiff has been known and collected across Asia for many years, it was not until the early 1990's that the company began regularly producing country-exclusive items for Japan for the general market.  One of the first was called Teddy Bear 1907, which was produced in a 5,000 piece edition in 1991 and 1992.  He is pictured here on the left.  Traditionally, the majority of Japanese Steiff exclusives have been Teddy bears, or well recognized cultural figures or icons, like Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Snoopy, Pingu and Pinga, the penguin claymation characters, and of course, Rody.  Steiff also created a series of bears dressed as pilots and flyers for Japan Air Lines in the early 2000's.  Today, Steiff is as popular as ever in Japan.  Most recently, Steiff produced a 1,500 piece run of Teddy Bear Kumamon, a charming, cartoon like black bear mascot created to promotes rural Kumamoto prefecture in southern Japan.  This fantastic edition sold out on the online shop within five seconds!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Rody has been a wonderful play-date for you! 

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

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