Saturday, September 27, 2014

Cataloging What Makes Steiff's 1970's-era Playthings So Distinctive

A picture is worth a thousand words! And this is especially true when it comes to Steiff, and their marvelous catalogs over the years. These great time-capsules really capture the essence of the brand from decade to decade - in terms of key styles, proportions, fabrics, and designs. When giving a talk on the history of Steiff and the company's product design evolution, Steiffgal often refers to the 1970's (in the most loving way) as the "ugly decade." By this, she means that for the most part, item designed in this time frame have a goofy, nontraditional look about them. Let's look at the items on this cover of a 1971 Steiff catalog and see if you agree, too!

Before we start, it is important to note that this particular catalog cover from 1971 features both legacy and "new to the 1970's" items. Today, Steiff, or really any other company, only features the newest, latest, and greatest items on the cover of any printed materials. In terms of "vintage" items, collectors will surely recognize Zotty, the gymnastics ball, the Lulac style rabbit, the lying tiger, the Jumbo elephant, and the woolen miniature ladybug as beloved items first introduced in the 1950's - or even earlier! These items are made from high quality mohair and have a very youthful, energetic, and "here for the long run" feeling to them - sort of the opposite of the vibe of 1970's items.   

So are you "red"-dy to dive right into the 1970's now? Then let's check out the 70's pieces in above, from left to right. No monkeying around here - the cheerful chimp is Steiff's "Weich-Schimpanse" or soft chimpanzee. He is standing and unjointed. He is made from brown dralon - a very common synthetic material used by Steiff in the 1970's and '80's - and has red overalls. His face, hands, and ears are made from peach colored synthetic velour, another material typical to Steiff for the period. Chimp has a sweet and playful face, highlighted by oversized white and black cartoon-style eyes. He is stuffed with foam chips and is fully washable. He was produced in 30 and 40 cm from 1971-1982 overall.  In addition to his chest tag, button, and yellow ear tag, this chimp - and other foam stuffed, washable dralon items - would have left the factory with an additional silver hang tag, which read, "form formgeschaumt" with the Steiff logo. You can see this on the chimp if you look closely; a sample of this tag is pictured here on the left. (Is it Steiffgal's imagination or does the bear faced logo look uncharacteristically unhappy here?) 

Let's now check out Steiff's "Buzzel Hen," just to the right of the chimp. Hen is 19 cm, unjointed, and sitting on a flat bottom. Like her chimp neighbor, she is made of dralon, stuffed with foam, and is fully washable. Her feathers, beak, face, and comb are made from yellow, red, and white felt. She has a squeaker in her base. She was made in this size only from 1971-1974.

Bird is also the word with the adjacent pair of featured feathered friends. Here we have Steiff's well attired Cosy Duck Boy and Cosy Duck Maid. Both are 25 cm, standing, unjointed, and made from white dralon. Their beaks and webbed feet are orange synthetic velour. Both have airbrushed highlighting on their faces. The boy dons a dapper blue tam-o-shanter and a matching blue sailor collar. The girl is adorable in her green felt hat. They are stuffed with foam and are fully washable. Boy and Girl Duck were both produced in 25 cm only from 1970-1973. 

It's easy to see things in black and white with this next 1970's feature. Here we have Steiff's 17 cm Pinni penguin. He is standing, unjointed, and made from black and white dralon materials. He has a chubby, orange beak and feet, as well as oversized black and white cartoon style eyes. He was made in this size only from 1971-1974.

Can you feel the "buzz" from the last two 1970's cover stars on the far right of the catalog cover? If you guessed that these, like the hen, are also buzzel items, then give yourself a high five! The bunny is Steiff's Buzzel Rabbit. He is made from tan and white dralon and has a face that sort of reminds Steiffgal of Steiff's Pummy Rabbit. The rooster is Steiff's Buzzel Rooster; he is pictured here on the left. He is made from orange and black dralon. He has a yellow felt beak, and a red felt waddle and comb. His tail feathers are made from green felt. He is a very simplified version of the company's legacy mohair and felt rooster model. Both are 20 cm, sit upon a flat bottom, have a squeaker, are stuffed with soft foam, and are fully washable. The rooster was made from 1971-1976; the rabbit from 1971-1978.

When it comes to Steiff, it goes without saying that "the more, the merrier!" In addition to the Buzzel collectibles noted above, the company also produced a Buzzel Cat and a Buzzel Santa, which did not make it into this cover shot. Both are pictured here on the left. The cat is made from grey and white dralon and has a pink hand embroidered nose, clear monofilament whiskers, and adorable green and black slit pupil eyes. Santa is made from red and white dralon material and felt, with a full long white dralon beard. His face is precious and simple; he has small blue felt eyes, a round peach colored felt nose, and a tiny red circle for his lips. Santa is wearing his traditional Santa suit which is integral to his body. He carries a brown Santa sack, which has a little bell in it. Both are 20 cm with typical "Buzzel" construction and features. Cat was made from 1971-1975; Santa from 1972-1974.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion of vintage Steiff treasures from the early 1970's has been a great blast from the past for you.

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

No comments:

Post a Comment

The teddy bear search engine