Posted in Dolls

by Ruby Lane

There are certain members of the animal and reptile families that have since the dawn of civilization engendered feelings of danger, darkness and evil in the human heart. What better time of the year to enjoy a look at some of the plush examples of these creatures with the approach of Halloween.

The Steiff company of Giengen, Wurtemburg, Germany has been known for its wide range of fine plush animals since its origins in the late 19th century. Their designs include the iconic teddy bear as well as domesticated pets, farm animals, birds, jungle and woodland animals. But some of their most unusual models include delightfully frightening offerings.

Steiff created a number of owls in the post-war era. Their Wittie Owl was available in sizes of 10cm, 14cm, 22cm, & 35cm (4″, 5.5″, 8.5″ & 13.75″) from 1954 to 1977. These plush birds had jointed heads, airbrushed details, plumicorn tufts, rubber beaks, and glass eyes. Wittie was also available as a 9″ hand puppet. Steiff still offers Wittie in an updated design.

A 6cm (2.3″) Owl was also made as part of the Steiff Wool line of animals. (shown 2nd from left). These are referred to by collectors as “Woolies.” This owl was part of the post-WWII creations and featured a felt nose and plastic feet. Owls courtesy of Alderfer auctions  and Ruby Lane shop The Orphanage.

Eric the Bat was made from 1960 to 1962 in 10cm and 17cm sizes (4″& 6.7″). His design featured a plush body with wings made of a wire-armatured vinyl fabric. Beads were used for his eyes and nose and he had felt ears. Bat photos courtesy of Ruby Lane shop Lulu Victoria for Victorias Lace.

Lizzy the Lizard was made from 1959 to 1961. He came in two sizes which measure about 8″ long and 12″ long (the catalog model numbers give the dimensions in height only). He is made of a close-clipped velveteen fabric, with air-brushed details and has bead eyes and felt feet. Despite his popularity as an ingredient in fictional witch’s potions he is really kind of cute after all. Lizzy photo courtesy of Ruby Lane shop Rosalie’s Steiff & More.

Nevermore! Hucky the Raven would be right at home crying a warning to the unsuspecting. 

He was available in the 1960s in 10cm and 17cm sizes (4″& 6.7″). He had a jointed head, earlier examples have glass eyes, while later ones have plastic eyes. 
From 1962 – 1969 Hucky could also be had as a hand puppet and a version was included in the woolies lineup of birds. Hucky photo courtesy of Ruby Lane shop Hildegard’s Toy Emporium.

Sending a shiver down many a spine is the1965 – 1966 hand puppet called Snaky. This mohair reptile has a “snap” mouth to further frighten puppet audiences. Steiff made snakes in a variety of sizes and colorations, some measuring as much as 118 inches when uncoiled. Puppet courtesy of Ruby Lane shop Fun City.

Spidy the spider adds the perfect creepy-crawly aspect to a plush collection or Halloween display, sporting not two but three glass eyes. She was made from 1960 to 1961 and features a plush body and eight pipe-cleaner legs. This model came in two sizes, 12cm and 22cm (4.75″ & 8.5″). Spiders courtesy of Skinner auctions and Ruby Lane shop All You Can Bear.

Red Ridinghood learned the hard way to be alert in the presence of a wolf! Fortunately lovers of Steiff plush animals can enjoy wolves in a safer environment. From 1956 to 1967 Loopy the wolf hand puppet was part of the company’s line. Standing versions of Loopy were available in 25cm and 35cm sizes (9.75 & 13.75″) in 1964. In more recent years Steiff has offered other wolves including Grissy and Snorry. Puppets courtesy of Ruby Lane shops LVAA (Little Vintage And Antiques) & Rosalie’s Steiff & More.

So don’t be afraid of the venture into the darker realms of collecting Steiff creations (and offerings by other plush animal companies) for some frightful fun.

Author – Linda Edward

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