Sunday, November 11, 2012

Remco's Elly and Andy Baby Mouse Tree House

Jerry Griswold, Director of the National Center for the Study of Children's Literature, once wrote a wonderful book length essay about some of the pervasive qualities of childhood that recur as themes in children's stories. One of these qualities he deemed "snugness," the desire of children for a small, snug, safe place of their own, like a treehouse, a fort carved out of the shrubbery, or a hideout made under a folding table draped with a sheet. 

He noted the prevalence of places like these in children's literature, particularly the cozy homes of Mole and Badger in The Wind in the Willows, and the dollhouse in Beatrix Potter's classic The Tale of Two Bad Mice. Of such small playhouses he said, "What lies behind this miniaturization and the vision of enclosed space is a wish to make life more manageable, a wish for control."

I think his thesis on the importance of small, snug playspaces can be extended to children's toys too, as there are countless examples which reflect this longing for a space of one's own, and enable children to have control over a tiny world and its inhabitants. One of my favorite examples is the Elly and Andy Baby Mouse Tree House, made by Remco in 1967 as part of their T.V. Jones line.




The 15 inch tall tree trunk house is made of lithographed tin with plastic details including a branch swing, front steps, windows, a balcony, and even a working elevator. Inside, the little house is divided into two rooms, a bedroom and dining area. Cheerful colors make the interior cozy and appealing.


 
The tree trunk is home to 3 inch tall rodent siblings, Elly and Andy Mouse:
 



The furnishings include a hutch and dresser with a pull out drawer, an adorable mushroom table with tree stump chairs, and even a piece of cheese. The chairs have little notches cut out in the back to accomodate the mouse tails, a thoughtful touch.








Upstairs are two cozy loft beds, leading the way to an inviting balcony.
 



 

If recent sale prices for this toy are any indication (I've seen a MIB example sell for $350) the now grown-up children who played with this 40+ years ago are still longing for the sense of snugness, safety, and control over life which it provided. There's no stress in the tree house, just cheese snacks, swing sets, and cozy naps. It's a good life for these little mice. 

13 comments:

  1. You always have the most interesting finds; I've never seen this toy before. It's so cute.

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  2. I had a mouse tree house! I LOVED it! Thank you for the photos...such great memories. :)

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    1. You're welcome! Glad you enjoyed seeing it!

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  3. Tracy, I have two photos of myself from Christmas of 1967, the year I received my Mouse Tree House. I am a scrapbooker, and would like to do some scrapbook pages of my photos and memories of this toy. It would be awesome if I could use, with you permission, the very detailed photos you posted here on your blog of the Mouse Tree House since I no longer own this toy. I would give a credit line on my page to you, as sometimes I post my pages on the scrapbooking site Two Peas In a Bucket, not for profit but just to share with the scrapbooking community. Please let me know if you would be willing to allow me to do this. You can e-mail me directly at nancylubrano@gmail.com. I would love to show you my photos from when I was 5 and Santa brought me this amazing toy!

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  4. Hi Nancy,

    You are very welcome to use these photos for your scrapbooking: thanks for asking first! I'd love to see your 1967 photos: I've emailed you privately.

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  5. Hello, Tracy. I've been hunting for this mouse house to replace the one I adored as a child. My mother threw it out when I was at school one day. Here I am, 40 years later, still searching for a replacement. Wonder what Professor Griswold would have to say about that! Any way, if you are ever interested in selling your mouse house, I would appreciate it if you let me know.
    With many thanks,
    Karen

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    1. Your mother threw it out?! Ohmygosh: how horrible! If it's any consolation to you, you're not alone: I've heard lots of stories like that from lots of people. Very often it seems to be teddy bears that mothers threw away when they felt the children had "outgrown" them. I absolutely would have died if my mother had done that...

      I'm afraid I'm very fond of my mouse house and not willing to sell it yet, but if I decide to, I will definitely keep you in mind. I hope you find one in the meantime: they do turn up on eBay sometimes. Good luck!

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  6. there's a mouse house on etsy. it's almost as nice as the one here.

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    1. Wow: I just looked, and that one has the box! I may have to snap it up myself...I'm a sucker for original boxes.

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    2. I just snapped it. Thanks for the heads-up!

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  7. I bought one of these deluxe sets about ten years ago at an auction -It was in with a box of other stuff that they always put out at the end of the night. I think it was like a $2 box! I didn't pay much attention to it but researched it a couple years later and saw it was valuable -then looked inside the box and it was mint and complete and, although the box was somewhat distressed it went for about $250 on FeeBay. Now I wish I still had it because it is a really cool piece.
    Great pics. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Wow: that was quite a find! Congrats!

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