Monday, June 10, 2024

The Tail Of Two Marvelous Steiff Midcentury Weasels

Not every toy design Steiff has made has been as precious and endearing as the company's beloved Teddy bears, family pets, and farm friends. In the late 1950's and early 1960's, Steiff launched a whole series of innovative but unconventional designs that can best be described as "creepy crawlers." Most were from the field and forest product categories, and many were produced from unexpected materials. It's pretty safe to say that these items - in real life - would be the last animals most people would want to keep and cuddle as "friends for life!" 

Two of the more unusual editions from this unofficial series have to be a pair of weasels.
The first, Wiggy, was made from all white dralon. She had a white pipe cleaner style tail that was detailed with a black tip. She is shown here on the left, you can click on the image to enlarge it. The second was Waggy, who was made from white dralon that was airbrushed brown, and had a brown pipe cleaner tail. She is shown just below; please click on her picture for a more detailed view. 

These marvelous mammals both were cataloged at 12 cm; they physically measured about 3 inches tall and 6 inches long.
Both were standing on all fours and unjointed, with felt ears and feet. They came to life with black button eyes, a pink hand embroidered mouth and nose, and clear monofilament whiskers. Both were produced in this size only and for one year in 1962. Today, it is extremely rare to see a Wiggy or Waggy in very good or better condition on the secondary market; their dralon material tends to get dirty and ratty looking, and often times their pipe cleaner tails simply snap off with age and wear.

It is possible that both Wiggy and Waggy are Ermines, which is a woodland animal that lives across North America and Eurasia.
Ermines have different coloration over the course of the year. In the warm weather, their coat is brown, with a whitish throat, chest, and belly. In climates with a very cold winter, the fur turns white, except for the black tail tip. In locations with moderately cold weather, their the fur becomes only partly white. So this pair may represent Steiff's take on a winter Ermine (Wiggy) and a summer Ermine (Waggy.)

It's interesting to note that Wiggy and Waggy may have "royal connections" as well. White Ermine fur was traditionally used to decorate the robes of kings and queens in Europe and was seen as a status symbol for the wealthy. Fast forward to today... these 60 years old oddities often play the aristocratic role as the crown jewels in the collections of vintage Steiff enthusiasts around the world.

Steifgal hopes you've enjoyed this tail of two midcentury Steiff rarities!

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