Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Park and Shop Game

For lovers of shopping and vintage board games, what could be a better fit than the classic  Park and Shop game? Park and Shop's origins date to the late 1940s, when civic authorities in Allentown, Pennsylvania worked with business leaders to solve parking difficulties in the town's shopping district. To overcome limited parking afforded by street meters, they created a then-revolutionary system of free lots surrounding shopping areas. Citizens would park (and walk) and shop. The system was such a success, it was made into a board game, later purchased by gaming giant Milton Bradley. There were several versions of Park and Shop over the years; this one dates from 1960.

The object of the game is to drive from home to the most strategically placed Park and Shop lot, then move your person to all the shops on your list, get back to your car, and make it home before anyone else.

You choose cards along the way that tell you what to do, like this one shown below: "You have 'created a disturbance' and have been arrested. Go directly to 'jail.' Stay two turns."

Friday, March 25, 2011

1954 Fisher Price Gold Star Stage Coach

Fisher Price made many wonderful wooden pull toys over the years, ranging from wiggly puppies to clattering rocket ships. One of the most detailed and elaborate is this, the Gold Star Stage Coach from 1954.

Measuring 15 1/2 inches long, the stage coach features a pair of pinto ponies who "gallop" up and down as the stage is pulled, along with a spring mounted driver who bobs energetically along. (The spring on mine is a bit sprung, which has made his hat pop permanently up. He looks rather like a startled cartoon character now.)

A strong box at the back of the coach opens, and can be used to store very tiny treasures. The top of the coach also opens, and small passengers can be placed inside.

Two wooden mailbags complete the stage coach's accessories. Even in Toyland, "the mail must go through!"

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

1950s German Dollhouse Grocery Shop

I just don't seem able to resist these German dollhouse shops. Just when I think I've seen all the varieties there are, another one turns up. This one, from the 1950s, is in a great modern style, a wonderful contrast to my antique versions.

 Measuring a whopping two feet wide, the wooden shop in a period-correct salmon pink color features a fruit and vegetable stand and an unusual pastry case.

The stand holds fruits, veggies, cheeses, sausage, and a rather macabre (by today's standards) pig's head, all made of chalk:

The pastry case is filled with tiny breads and cakes:

The shop came absolutely packed full of what to appear to be its original miniature boxes. My favorite is the "Wackel Peter" package:

There are only three drawers to this shop, which appear to be all it ever had. Kaffee = coffee, Zimmt = cinnamon, and, according to Google Translate, flaumen = flood. Hmmm. Ah, Google thoughtfully asks if I meant "pflaumen," and, if I look closely, I see what may be a "P" trapped under the left side nail, in which case pflaumen = plums, which seem much more likely than floods to be stocked in a grocery store. 

Two of the most interesting items in the shop were these miniature glass bottles of refreshing beverages:

 My family of 1950s Schuco teddy bears are just the right size (and vintage) for this shop. Looks like they're stocking up on cake (and pigs heads...)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Craziest Teddy Bears Ever

While the focus of my teddy bear collecting is on antique teds, I do sometimes find modern bears I like. Some of my favorites are made by the contemporary artist Cindy McGuire, of China Cupboard Bears. Her crazy creations feature interesting proportions, enormous noses, wacky smiles, and clothing and accessories constructed from vintage materials.

Meet Alice, a lovely little lady bear about 10 inches tall, sporting a fascinating hat with vintage trims. Her handmade dress suits her perfectly, and her old paper umbrella completes her presentation. Alice's mauve-backed purpley-grey mohair is one of the most unique I've ever seen.

Doesn't she look just like an eccentric little old lady out for a stroll?

Here's Alice without her hat, revealing her 
oddly-proportioned, yet adorable, face:

Next is Alice's cousin, 16 inch Hubert, with his little wooden friend, Nog. Nog is a vintage piece, as is the fabric used to make Hubert's costume. Hubert looks like he's ready for the beach:

Hubert has a great face; it always makes me smile. 
It's worth a couple of profile shots to see the full effect:

Last but definitely not least is a 14 inch, multi-hued bear that people seem to either love or hate. (I love him.) I'm not sure of his name, as he was sadly missing his tag when he arrived. For obvious reasons, I've called him Smiley.

  A face to make you giggle...or haunt your nightmares, 
depending on your taste...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Antique Automobile Game

There's a lot to appreciate in old board games besides their game play, like the beauty of their lithography and the interest of their history. One of the best examples of this in my collection is a 1920s auto race game, made by Wilder Mfg. of St. Louis, Missouri. The board features wonderful cartoony illustrations of now-classic automobiles in a road race. 

 The center of the board hosts a great gas station 
with old style gas pumps:

Oh no! You're out of water, and your radiator is overheating!
Go back five spaces...

The cars include Cadillacs, Packards, Stutz, 
and a brand I've never heard of, Marmon, 
all driven by maniacal-looking men wearing goggles:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Flintstones Weebles

Hasbro's original Weebles toy line, made in the 1970s, was one of my childhood favorites. The playsets and figures were, for a brief period, competitors for Fisher Price's Little People. Any kid who grew up in America in the '70s must surely remember the company's famous advertising jingle, "Weebles wobble but they don't fall down," as well as the parent and media induced "choking hazard" scare that prematurely ended the line.

Most Weeble sets were generically themed (a cottage with family; pirates in a ship; cowboys on a ranch) but there were a few licensed character tie-ins, including the Flintstones.

Yabba Dabba Doo!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fisher Price Space Blazer

Zooming in for a landing is my very favorite vintage Fisher Price pull toy: 1953's Space Blazer. Measuring 14 inches long, the wooden, paper lithographed Space Blazer features a domed cockpit with a green alien pilot, a bouncing antenna on the front, and a clanging bell on the rear. As the toy is pulled, the cockpit spins and the bell rings.

The little green man is adorable:

The Space Blazer's lithography is beautifully done, 
with lots of great detail:

Blast off!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Champ, the Boxing Bear

Although I now collect many different kinds of toys, my first love was antique teddy bears. Within that category, my favorite type of bears are so-called "characters," teddies that have been so loved they are all but worn out. Doting owners often carefully dressed and accessorized such bears, to make up for missing fur, noses, and, in this extreme case, paws, resulting in one of a kind characters with lots of forlorn appeal.

This 14 inch, 1930s British bear has lost all of his mohair, his nose, mouth, foot pads, AND both his paws from excessive hugging, kissing, and playing. But somewhere in the course of his long life, a loving owner knit him a pair of boxing shorts, and stitched little leather boxing gloves to his arms. The addition of a cleverly captioned pinback ("Never Touched Me") completed his makeover, and he is now a fabulous character, indeed.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hair Happenin's Francie Doll

I see a lot of vintage vinyl doll cases when I'm antiquing, and, while I've come across a few genuine Barbie ones, most are knock-offs or "generic" versions. It's always worth checking such cases out, however, for I've found they often have treasures within. This particular case, made by a company called Miner Industries, features just such a generic fashion type doll on the cover illustration.

The dealer had it priced absurdly low, I'm guessing because he thought the dolls inside were equally generic. They were not. While the clothes were nothing special, the doll on the right is a Tressy, made in 1965 by American Character. She's notable as one of the earliest "growing hair" dolls: a special button on her stomach and a keyhole on her back enabled her young owner to extend or retract a special "growing" strand of hair, that could then be styled in all sorts of ways by using included accessories.

(Don't the dolls look like they're gossiping and passing secrets to each other through the partition? What else could they do to pass the time, being packed away as they were for 30 years?)

 While not a Barbie, Tressy is still an interesting and attractive vintage fashion doll:

The other doll was a Barbie, or rather a Francie, Barbie's Mod cousin from England. This particular version is from 1970, and was called Hair Happenin's Francie. Francies tend to be much scarcer than Barbies of the same vintage, so she was quite a find.

Francie has a completely different face sculpt from Barbie, with softer, younger features and big brown doe-like eyes. This model sported a sleek blond bob, and originally came with several hair pieces to change up her style. Clearly, this case belonged to a child who loved doing hair. Perhaps she (or he?) grew up to become a stylist...