Monday, March 29, 2010

Trolls, trolls, trolls...

I'll wrap up this month's tour of the trolls with a chorus line of vintage Thomas Dam pieces, all made in Denmark in the early 1960s. Averaging 7 inches tall, these showcase the design variety inherent in the earliest trolls.

The slightly larger and darker troll on the far left is extra special: he was made for the European market. Such trolls are distinguished by darker, softer vinyl, heavier weight, and dark brown glass eyes. He was actually the first vintage troll I ever bought, discovered in a pile of junque at a rather shabby antique mall. Several years passed before I learned precisely what he was. Quite the find he turned out to be (if you're into trolls, I guess that is. If not, then I suppose he's not especially appealing.)

European-market troll on the left, American on the right.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Viking Troll

The Troll-Finding-Gods have smiled upon me this week! Yesterday I scored one of my most-searched-for 1960s trolls: a hard-to-find Viking. These odd trolls were predominantly sold in Scandinavian gift and souvenir shops. This 7 inch version sports a rabbit fur beard and hair, original felt outfit, and molded helmet and boots. He's marked "John Nissen Denmark" on his back.

He's ready for some looting and pillaging, or perhaps the opera.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Teddy Troll Got a Girlfriend!

It's strange how things happen sometimes in toy collecting: you can search for a toy for years, and then, after you find it, all of a sudden you see another one, and another one...

I had looked for the rarely seen "Teddy Bear Troll" for about 2 years before I found this one, posted a couple of weeks ago. And just a few days after posting about him, look what turned up: the girl version (you can tell by her stereotypical girly attributes: long hair, bow and heart patch) in minty condition, complete with her original tag! She's the only one I've ever seen with a tag, and so, finally, we know the actual name and maker of this very odd troll. These were called "Neanderthal People" and were made by Timely Toys of Brooklyn, New York in the 1960s. Like the early troll dolls, they were advertised as "good luck" charms, but in reality, they have a rather disturbing appearance...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monster Trolls

A lot of people find trolls unappealing, even rather creepy.  If you are one of those people, you should probably skip this post.

Still here? Okay then:

During the 1960s troll craze, competing toy manufacturers were constantly striving to outdo each other, coming up with trolls of ever increasing novelty or ever cheaper production: whatever they could do to get a market edge. Well, someone in Hong Kong, observing both the 1960s troll fad and the concurrent monster craze, combined the two, creating what is now one of the most disturbing, and most-sought, trolls out there: the Frankenstein's Monster Troll. He proved so popular, two other monsters were added about a decade later: the Wolfman and King Kong.

 "We promise not to come alive at night and terrorize 
your other toys. Really."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What Did We Do With Our Tax Refund?

Bought:      * an original 1963 Easy Bake Oven
                       in stunning turquoise plastic,
                       with its box & accessories

                   * a huge set of 1930s Strombecker dollhouse furniture

                   * a rare 1960s troll doll

                   * a bunch of 1930s - 40s radio premiums
                      (toy rings and badges from shows like  
                       The Lone Ranger and Captain Midnight)

                   * a prize badge for the winner of the 1914
                      Galveston, Texas, annual Oyster-Eating Contest
                      (it was Bob Frey, and he ate 928!)

                   * a bag full of vintage celluloid dice

                   * a new book about the history of garden gnomes

I've done my part to stimulate the economy... 

You Know You Have Too Many Toys When...

You know you have too many toys buy something you already have, because you didn't realize you already had it.

I recently was thrilled to win this vintage 1960s Batman Viewmaster reel set, complete with original package and story booklet, on ebay:

When it arrived, I gleefully headed to my "toy storage room", aka, my second bedroom, in search of my Viewmaster, where I discovered this:

a box FULL of vintage Viewmaster reels I didn't even remember I owned, with, resting prominently on the top, the 1960s Batman set.

So, if anyone needs a 1960s Batman Viewmaster reel set, complete with original package and booklet, drop me a line, and I can hook you up...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Fashionable Ladies

The three little trolls below are some of my favorites. They look like fashionable "society" ladies, heading off for an afternoon of lunch, shopping, and ogling the pool boy. The girl on the left was made by one of the many unknown 1960s troll makers, while her two friends on the right are by Scandia House.

Troll Fashionistas.

Rooted Hair Troll

Most 1960s trolls had their hair affixed with glue: it was quick, which meant it was cheap to do. Time-consuming and thus more costly was the rarely seen alternative method of individually rooting each hair (just like a doll's hair). Trolls with rooted hair are hard to come by. I have only one, this 3 inch girl below with long salt & pepper locks. If you look closely, you'll see a little ridge above her brows, where the hairs have been individually rooted.

 She's special, and she knows it!

Unique Hair Troll

Scandia House made some of the most beautiful trolls of the 1960s. They're notable for their luxurious 'dos: big, BIG poufs of gorgeous mohair. I read somewhere that at the height of the 1960s troll craze, an entire year's production of Icelandic mohair was purchased by troll manufacturers. That's a heck of a lot of troll hair! Anyway, this girl has some of the most unique mohair I've ever seen on a troll: it actually has a frizzly wave to it, and, being undyed, it reveals its natural tint, varying from gray to ivory. She wears a vintage troll dress in a fashionable '60s print.


The Bloo Family

One of the highlights of toy collecting is finding a group of toys that have remained together since they were packed up by their original child owner. It's interesting to see what children liked to keep together, and how they played with and stored their toys. Some of my oldest such finds date back to the 1890s (a doll trunk full of bisque dolls, their furniture, accessories, and tea sets).

One of the quirkiest is much more recent: a group of 1960s trolls, found inside a vinyl troll house, where they had been carefully stored by their original owner. Said child was clearly a very tidy and color-coordinated kid: her trolls were selected for the way their hair and clothes complemented each other. I call them "The Bloo Family". They're in minty shape too: this child was clearly a neat freak.

Mrs. Bloo is a 3 1/2 inch troll by an unknown maker. She has white mohair and wears a vintage felt troll dress and hair bow. Mr. Bloo, besides being a nudist, is a '64 Dam with a fantastic shock of blue mohair, and their daughter is a tiny 2 inch Scandia House pencil topper.

This guy, also blue of course, was in the case with the family of trolls above. I call him "The Bloo Family's Crazy Uncle, Who Lives in the Attic".

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mint in Bag 1960s Dam Troll

Toy trolls were usually sold loose during their original 1960s craze, but a few were packaged in clear acrylic cylindrical containers or, more rarely, plastic bags. This example, a seldom seen 5 1/2 inch Dam, is in beautiful, minty condition, with her red felt jumper and bright blue mohair in perfect shape. The bag labels her a "Danish Good Luck Mascot," an appellation sometimes given to early Dam trolls, particularly those sold in Europe, as this one was. She is my Absolutely Most Favorite Troll. I think she's beautiful, in her own homely way...

Troll Shanty Shack House

Here's another of the troll houses that were made for the little characters back in the 1960s. This one is the Wishnik Troll Shanty Shack, made by Ideal for Uneeda's Wishnik trolls. This was the house of choice for rural and mountain dwelling trolls who enjoyed banjo strumming.

Here's the inside, which features a cozy fire, bunk beds, and twin shotguns hanging on the wall, useful for chasing off the feuding  hillbilly neighbor trolls:

 Although I'm not really partial to hillbilly decor, the Shanty Shack does have some nice touches, like this ancestral painting on the bedroom wall:

Monday, March 15, 2010

Gumball Machine Trolls

I love vintage gumball machine prizes as much as I love trolls, so these next few items, tiny trolls sold in 1960s gumball machines, are some of my favorites.

First up are these 2 inch tall pencil toppers with yarn hair and rather frightening expressions. I keep one on my favorite pen at work, and everyone leaves it alone.

Next are my tiniest trolls: just 1 inch tall. They're cuties.

Here are a couple of interesting gumball machine troll rings, the perfect fashion accessory for the troll-inclined:

And here's my greatest gumball troll find ever: a hard-to-find-style with its original vending machine display card:

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Cheerleader Trolls

Trolls dressed as cheerleaders comprised a hugely popular subset of the 1960s troll output. Some wore customized outfits for particular colleges and universities, while others sported generic "State U" costumes like these. Made by Uneeda, these Wishniks are ready to rah-rah. The larger, 8 inch version is a hard to find size.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Troll Car

Here's one of the most rarely-seen vintage troll accessories: the Troll Car made by Irwin Toys in 1965.

The 10 inch long car, sized to fit a standard 3 inch troll, is made of molded plastic in a lovely "fake log" design. It originally had a gold foil "grill" sticker on the front of the hood, that read "Irwin Wishnik REG'D T.M. of Uneeda Doll Company Incorporated c. 1965 by Uneeda Doll Company Incorporated." (Whew!) This lengthy declaration was the only such identification on the car, and unfortunately, the stickers invariably fell off. When the troll car is found today, it is almost always missing the sticker. For this reason, remaining troll cars are often misidentified as Flintstones toys (there's an eBay search hint for you).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Box 'O Troll Goodies

I almost passed over this little box when I saw it: just a shabby 1960s stationery box that probably held small greeting cards...

but something compelled me to open it, and was I ever glad I did:

Inside were a 1960s troll and her lifetime's accumulation of accessories and clothes (some homemade), all carefully stored in the stationery box 
by their original young owner. 

Packages of outfits and related accessories were sold for trolls during the 1960s craze, and the items seen here (hair curler, telephone, rolling pin and cookbook, shoes, etc.) all came from such sets. 
The tiny "baby troll" was a gumball machine prize. 

Shortly after finding this lot, I came across a matching boy troll, and he happily moved in with the lady troll.
Her 40 years of single-parenthood are now over.

Hi! Trolls

Here are two of the sweetest vintage trolls in my collection. Measuring only 2 inches tall (not counting their hair), they have pins on their backs so you can wear them, and for some reason they have "HI" spelled out in felt letters on their fronts. They're a fashion accessory and a low-tech communication device rolled into one!



Here's one of the Hi! trolls with her friend, Kampy Kiddle, a 1960s Liddle Kiddle doll. They just looked like they belonged together when I got them, and now they're inseparable.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Marx Troll Village!

Only two days ago, I was here lamenting my lack of the fabulous 1965 Troll Village Playset made by the Marx Company. Well, the toy gods have smiled upon me: I just found my Troll Village, in the online antique shop of one of my favorite dealers, and my sweetie was prevailed upon to buy it for my birthday (which is three months away, but that's close enough, in my opinion).

Doublenik Trolls

Doubleniks, the two-headed Wishnik brand trolls, are much sought by troll collectors, and tend to be much disliked by everyone else. ("Please turn those around," my friends say when they visit. "It's like they're watching us...") Strange though they may seem, Doubleniks have strong folkloric roots: multi-headed trolls feature prominently in Scandinavian tales, although their toy counterparts are less frequently seen. Here are my three, or six, depending on how you count them, all made by Uneeda in the 1960s.

This is my favorite, a very high-color example, 
with premium "spiral eyes" and day-glo hair.
A trippy troll! 

These two feature cotton candy and vanilla mint color schemes. 
The girls on the left wear a vintage troll dress.

The Doubleniks at home. It's a bit crowded.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Teddy Bear Troll

This particular 1960s troll is one of the rarest and strangest in my collection. Measuring 19 inches tall, it features a vinyl troll face on a stuffed body of synthetic fur, along with, inexplicably, a patched hillbilly type vest. It's like a psychedelic cross between a troll and a teddy bear, and for this reason is frequently called the Teddy Bear Troll. It's yet another toy that tends to disturb people. As one observer put it, "he looks like he's just waiting for you to turn away so he can attack and eat you." I keep him in a securely closed cupboard.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Marx Trolls

Here are a few unusual 1960s trolls that were made by the Marx Company. The larger 3 inch troll was called "Lucky Lou", and came in several different expressions. His tiny companions, just 1 1/4 inches tall, are from the fantabulous Marx Troll Village, a playset I have yet to acquire. You'll be the first to know when I do, though!

Here's the Marx Troll Village. Not mine, but someday, someday...


Batman Trolls

In the mid-1960s, Batmania swept the nation as a result of the hit TV show starring Adam West and Burt Ward. Batman iconography was extended to every product imaginable, including the contemporaneous fad toys, the troll dolls. Below are a few Batman related troll items from my collection.

First up is this large 5 1/2 inch Uneeda Wishnik Batman troll in his colorfully silkscreened costume. He retains his original, and unusual, bulging plastic eyes, but has lost his cowl and cape, which is typical for this troll.

Next we have a rather uncommon 3 inch troll wearing a one-piece winged cape and cowl. This troll is seldom seen, and it was really exciting to find one.

Conversely, here's the most commonly encountered Batman troll: a 3 incher wearing an odd red costume, perhaps to avoid licensing issues (some people call this a Robin troll, Batman's sidekick, but I don't think it looks like Robin's costume at all):

Lastly, here's my greatest Batman troll find: the Batnik Club Official Emblem, a sticky badge in the shape of a Bat Troll. Check out the highly detailed instructions for use on the back of its package! I haven't removed him yet, but it's awfully tempting...



Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Vintage Troll Bank

In the wake of all the financial brouhaha of recent months, it's hard to imagine friendly neighborhood bankers back in the 1960s giving out these fantastic 6 1/2 inch troll banks, imported from Denmark and bracelet-tagged with the respective bank's name. But that's just what they did. I think we'd all like bankers a little more if they gave out trolls with every transaction. Perhaps I'll suggest it to the Treasury Secretary...