Wade and Disney

The Hat Box Series

Lady and the Tramp

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Disney
and Wade are two of the hottest collectable names around – so a combination
of both makes for something really special. In 1955, Walt Disney’s Film
Lady and the Tramp was released and was a tremendous success, combining
an appealing story, enchanting animation, and songs by Peggy Lee, one
of the greatest singers of the era. It was no wonder that Wade approached
Disney for permission to use the character designs for a new series
of porcelain figurines.

In
the Film Lady was given as a Christmas gift hidden in a hat box, and
so each model was similarly packaged in a small, round, striped cardboard
box. Naturally, the series was called ‘Hat Box’. The first four figurines
were released in 1956 and retailed at 2/11d (30p) each.

This set, all
from Lady and the Tramp, included the two title characters, plus Jock
the scottie and Trusty the bloodhound. They were nicely modeled and
painted, and stood around one and a half to two inches tall. In this
early set, Jock wasn’t wearing his familiar tartan coat, but later he
was given a blue coat which was subsequently changed to green.

The
characters proved popular and over the next few years more figurines
from Lady and the Tramp appeared in the shops.

ScampEventually the set included Scamp the naughty puppy, as well as Peg,
Dachie, Toughy and Bons, all dogs from the film. Also available were
those two evil Siamese cats, Si and Am, Si in partcular looking really
sinister as he revealed his sharp feline toothypegs.

JockCharacters from other films were produced too. Favourites such as Bambi
and his Friends Thumper the bunny and Flower the skunk as well as Pegasus
the little winged horse from Fantasia and Dumbo the elephant with the
over-large ears, all appeared as china figures in the Hat Box series.

In
the early 1960s Wade introcluced ten new figurines, and the price rose
to 3/6d (33p). Because this last set had a short production run, many
are now extremely rare, and some are commanding prices of a hundred
pounds or so, which seems a lot of money for a two inch high figure.
The characters included dogs from 101 Dalmatians – Rolly, Lucky and
the Colonel – and also the cat, Sergeart Tibs.

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BambiBut it is The Sword in the Stone set that contains the most highly-prized
figurines of all – Merlin the Wizard in his alter-egos of caterpillar,
turtle or hare, as well as Madam Mim the hen, Archimedes the owl, and
the Girl Squirrel. Just a couple of years later, the Wade Hat Box series
was discontinued. Merlin as a turtle is now the most wanted, and most
difficult to obtain, Hat Box figurine.

Sixteen
years later Wade must have had second thoughts, because they reissued
seven of the original figures – Lady, Jock, Scamp, Peg, Dachie – now
called Dachsie – Bambi and Thumper.

WadeTramp was also reissued, but this
was a new version, seated instead of standing, and didn’t seem to capture
the charisma and impudence of the original street-wise dog. Also the
modeling on this new figure wasn’t as fine, and it was smaller, out
of proportion with the others In the set. The original standing Tramp
is now becoming quite scarce, because the long lanky legs are delicate
and so are easily broken.

The other designs remained the same, apart from slight colour variations
which are difficult to distinguish unless you can compare both versions
side by side. For instances Peg’s fringe was beige in the new model
and yellow in the original, while Scamp’s ears were now pink inside
instead of mauve. Thumper’s flower changed from dark to light orange,
Bambi’s eyes from dark to light brown and Jock’s mouth from purple to
pink.

Fox and the HoundWade
also released four models from The Fox and the Hound. These were Big
Mama the owl, Tod the fox, and Copper and Chief, two of the dogs. Some
of these models came in small round boxes made from plastic. The others
were in cardboard boxes brightly decorated with Disney characters. Now
the series was just referred to as ‘Disneys’. Today, prices very greatly
for Hat Box and Disneys figurines, but the more common ones such as
Lady, Peg or Bambi are around £15-£20.

As a follow-on from the first Hat Box series, Wade produced a series
of extra large Disney characters, similar to the smaller models’ except
for Jock, who was standing instead of sitting, and Lady and Tramp who
now both sat. These models were around five inches tall, and became
known as ‘Blow-ups’ amongst collectors. They’re very collectable, some
of them changing hands for two hundred pounds or more.