Today's interesting Steiff rarity is certain to bug you - but in the very best way possible. Take a look - or two - at this absolutely amazing Steiff grasshopper in formal wear. Yes, that's right... Steiff is responsible for the best dressed insect on the planet! Here's the story, and the tale, behind this fantastic find.
This happy hopper is Grashuepfer (grasshopper) Kalle Stropp. He is 18 cm tall and head jointed. Let's start at the top by describing his head. It is constructed from green velvet and is decorated with black painted nostrils, a smiling mouth, and antennae made from clear plastic rods that are topped with two round, red balls. His eyes deserve special mention for their detailing. They are made from tiny black buttons and backed in white material, somewhat like the eye treatment on the company's Bambi. They are highlighted with painted pink shadows and black eyebrows. Interestingly, Kalle has a black floss loop of thread sewn into the back of his long, thin neck. It appears to be original to him; perhaps it was put there so he could hang from a hook or a car's rear view mirror. Steiff made a number of these "hanging style" mascots in the 1950's.
Now let's check out the rest of him. His body is made from heavy metal wire that feels somewhat like the wire used on the feet and legs of the company's woolen miniature birds of the same period. His five fingered hands are made from light green felt. He is wearing a white felt collared shirt, red and white striped fabric bow tie, black felt pants, and a light green felt cutaway style topcoat. His jacket is detailed with darker green lapels, white felt cuffs, and seven red bead buttons - two on each sleeve, two in the rear, and one in the front. Black felt shoes with red felt soles complete his runway-grade outfit. Kalle retains his colorful, named, bear faced chest tag and raised script button (located in the tail of his coat) as his Steiff IDs.
The amount of work and the number of fabrics used on this big bug are simply astonishing. And given the ephemeral nature of his construction and materials, it is amazing that he is still with us today.
Kalle Stropp is one of Steiff's "one-derfuls," appearing in the line for only one year - 1956. Kalle is a popular Swedish fairy tale character invented by European author Thomas Funck. Funck's stories about Kalle and his friends were broadcast on the radio, produced as movies, and appeared in print in cartoons and books starting in 1954. Kalle's sidekick was a frog named Grodan Boll; Grodan was also produced by Steiff in 1956 only as a 17 cm puppet and as a 14 cm figure. Both were made from velvet, had distinctive, round, googly-style eyes, and wore a black and red felt vest for good measure. Kalle Stropp the grasshopper was portrayed as "a strict but distracted and nervous gentleman" while Grodan Boll the frog was "hyperactive, clumsy, and outspoken." Sounds like the plot behind many US situation comedies today!
Steiffgal hopes this discussion on the well dressed Kalle Stropp has been a black-tie affair for you.
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