Today is 21st October 2015 (well it is if you are reading when first published) and for Back to the Future fans it is a special day – it is the day Marty McFly and Christopher Lloyd’s Doc Brown travelled to in Back to the Future 2 in 1989. 2015 also mark the 30th Anniversary of the original Back to the Future release, so we thought we would indulge ourselves and write a feature on Back to the Future Collectibles and Merchandise. We are going Back to, no we are Collecting Back to the Future! Pictured: Back to the Future (Universal, 1985) One Sheet (27″ X 41″) movie poster. This version sold at Heritage Auctions for $501.90 in February 2015. Back to the Future Part II (Universal, 1989) Advance One Sheet movie poster (27″ X 41″) which sold at Heritage Auctions for $195.50 in February 2006. Back to the Future Part III (Universal, 1990) One Sheet movie poster (27″ X 40″) which sold at Heritage Auctions for $143.40 in June 2015. The Back to the Future Movie Franchise The original film was directed by Robert Zemeckis, written by Zemeckis and Bob Gale, produced by Gale and Neil Canton. The cast included Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover and Thomas F. Wilson. The film follows teenager Marty McFly (Fox) as he travels accidentally back in time to a Hill Valley of 1955 in a De Lorean time machine built by the eccentric scientist Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown. Pictured: One of the iconic De Lorean cars from the Back to the Future films. This version was sold by Profiles in History at their Icons of Hollywood auction in December 2011 for $541,200. There is some debate as to how many De Loreans were used in the films but seven seems to be agreed upon by several sources. Only a few have survived and at the time this was the only one in private hands. Most of us cannot afford a real De Lorean, yet alone one used in filming. Luckily there have been a number of small models over the years. Corgi produced a very popular 1:36th scale model which included a Doc Brown figure. In mint condition in box these can now sell for £50-£60. In 2001 Corgi produced a Limited Edition of 100 “Back To The Future” – Delorean – Finished In Silver to commemorate the launch of their TV & Film Collection. This model now sells for nearly £200. During his brief time he meets his future parents in high school, becomes his mother’s romantic interest and changes the course of history. Marty with the help of Doc Brown must repair the damage and find a way to return to 1985. The film was released on July 3, 1985, grossing over $300 million worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing film of 1985. The film marked the beginning of a franchise, with two sequels, Back to the Future Part II (1989) and Back to the Future Part III (1990). Back to the Future Action Figures There are now more toys and collectibles available for the collectors than there has even been. Surprisingly there do es not seem to be any action figures produced for the films at the time. Please let us know if you have any information. The Back to the Future license has been taken up by a number of companies and brands including Funko, POP!, Hot Toys, ReAction, MiniMates etc. Back to the Movie Props and Replicas Owning an original Back to the Future movie prop is the holy grail for any collector. Prop replicas are also an affordable way to enter this market. Online and specialist auction houses have made access to these sort of items much easier. Below are a few items from the ScreenUsed and BacktotheFuture.com 30th Anniversary auction. Replicas of the items below are also available. Back to the Future Collectibles, Toys & Memorabilia Related backtothefuture.com ScreenUsed.com
The 20th Century has been responsible for some of the greatest changes to the way we live our everyday lives. Fast moving technology gave us the invention of the radio at the beginning of the century to the ipod’s that we plug into today. Interior design has progressed from Formica to Ikea and ceramics from Midwinter to Moorcroft. But it is not just the products that are worthy of status, it is the talented designers that created them, without their initial vision and determination, these products would never have developed into reality and become such a huge part of the world we live in today. One of the most celebrated artists of the 20th Century was Andy Warhol. Born Andrew Warhola, in Pennsylvania USA to Czechoslovakian emigrant’s Ondrej and Julia Warhola, his date of birth still remains a bit of a mystery. Andy always claimed that his 1930s birth certificate had been forged, but we do know that he was born between 1928 and 1931. After graduating as a Batchelor of Fine Arts in 1949, Warhol shortened his name and started work as a commercial artist and illustrator for well-known publications like Vogue and Harpar’s Bazaar. Although foremost his career was as a commercial artist he was desperate to have his work taken seriously and to be seen as a “pure” artist. 1956 was a turning point in his career and already a well-established figure mixing with the elite in social circles, his fascination with fame, celebrities and youth led him into another period of his artistic life. Being obsessed with celebrities (as were most people in the 1960s) he began to paint the Hollywood screen idols. The image that is so recognisable as his work today is that of Marilyn Monroe, she was Warhol’s favourite model although he did not begin to paint her until after her death. Other Hollywood screen idols that he captured during the 1960s were Elizabeth Taylor and Elvis Presley. These paintings were so popular, celebrities endorsed them and each wanted to be painted by him. One of his most famous images is that of the Campbells Soup Tin. He saw the heavily advertised consumer images like the soup tin worthy subjects and was right to – as this particular image has become iconic, being re-produced on many products. The most well known “The Souper Dress.” Was marketed as a throwaway item. This outfit originally cost just $1.25, and featured Warhol’s soup can images which formed a huge part of the “Pop Art” culture. An extremely rare item that if you were to find one in good condition it could cost in the region of £700 to £1,200. Other commercial work produced during this period was Coke bottle tops, Brillo Soap Pads and Heinz Tomato Ketchup bottles. These commercial art images reflected the popular need for consumer mass production and Warhol’s ability to turn a mundane object into art thus ensuring his place in history as one of the founding members of the “Pop Art” culture. Over the course of his career he produced thousands of different pieces and had a team of employees who reproduced his work in his studio, which he named “The Factory”. The most common method used was silkscree n painting because his art could be reproduced time after time, turning “high art” into a form of mass production. Now anything adorning Warhol’s images is highly collected. Originals command serious money but modern day collectable items are more affordable. Most of his original works of art now sit in private collections or are on display in museums around the world. In Pittsburgh, USA is The Andy Warhol Museum, the largest American Art Museum to be dedicated to one single artists work. However, sometimes items do come up for sale. A “Little Electric Chair” pink acrylic silkscreen print sold at Christies Contemporary Art Auction in 2001. Its estimate was $430,000 to $575, 000 but it actually realised $2.3 million. There is something for everyone in the Warhol collecting world and you don’t have to spend a fortune on an original piece as there are many companies producing his products under licence. Crystal Impressions have a range of laser etched crystal blocks in their “Prestige and Special Editions” range, you can choose from Marilyn Monroe or Elvis to the commercial images of the Campbell Soup tin to a Coca Cola bottle. Prices are far more affordable than an original piece of artwork as they start at as little as £39.95 to £49.95 each. The sports clothing company, Adidas, recently produced a Superstar trainer as part of their “Expressions Series” to celebrate their 35th Anniversary. The “Andy Warhol” design, produced in a limited edition of 4,000 shoes sold out instantly. If you bought a pair now on the secondary market they would cost between £70 and £90. There is even an Andy Warhol soft doll, which sells for £15, and a stunning ‘Art Opening with Andy and Edie’ Daisy doll, which is rare, and can cost £50 upwards. If this is still a little high for your pocket then you could purchase a copy of the “Velvet Underground” album for around £15 to £20, as this “Banana” cover was another famous design. Warhol would have appreciated these interpretations of his work in modern day collectables, as he was an obsessive collector himself. Well known for frequenting the flea markets looking for bargains he was also a common face in auction houses and loved buying off of local dealers. After his sudden death in 1987 when gall bladder surgery went terribly wrong he left behind a townhouse with 30 rooms. He had only been able to live in two of the rooms because the rest were crammed full of objects that he had collected. Well known for his extensive collection of cookie jars, he also had items ranging from Tiffany Glass Lamps to a Fred Flintstone watch, celebrity autographs to his 600 time capsules, which he filled with everyday materials that reflected his life. […]
Thunderbirds first screened on the ITV Network in 1965, and 2015 sees the series celebrate its 50th annversary. The series was created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, and filmed by their production company AP Films (APF) and distributed by ITC Entertainment. The first Thunderbirds collectables and books appeared in 1966 and we take a look at some of the highlights from the last 50 years, and their values and produce a small Thunderbirds collectables price guide. Pictured: Thunderbirds Annuals from 1966 and 1971. The first Thunderbirds annual appeared in 1966 with editions in 1967-1970 and 1971 & 1972. There have also been annuals in the 1990s and more recently with the Thunderbirds film and new TV series. In excellent condition early annuals are valued at £25-£35 each. Condition is everything, in lesser conditions annuals can be just a few pounds each.<a target=”_blank” href=”https://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/710-53481-19255-0/1?icep_ff3=9&pub=5574679543&toolid=10001&campid=5335953011&customid=thunderbirds&icep_uq=thunderbirds+annual&icep_sellerId=&icep_ex_kw=&icep_sortBy=12&icep_catId=&icep_minPrice=&icep_maxPrice=&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229508&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg”>View Thunderbird Annuals on ebay</a><img style=”text-decoration:none;border:0;padding:0;margin:0;” src=”https://rover.ebay.com/roverimp/1/710-53481-19255-0/1?ff3=9&pub=5574679543&toolid=10001&campid=5335953011&customid=thunderbirds&uq=thunderbirds+annual&mpt=[CACHEBUSTER]”>. One of the most popular characters is Lady Penelope actually appeared first in the TV21 annual of 1965. Thunderbirds is set in the mid-2060s and followed the exploits of International Rescue (IR), a life-saving organisation equipped with technologically-advanced land, sea, air and space rescue craft; these are headed by a fleet of five vehicles named the Thunderbirds and launched from IR’s secret base in the Pacific Ocean. The main characters are ex-astronaut Jeff Tracy, the founder of IR, and his five adult sons – Scott, John, Virgil, Gordon and Alan, who pilot the Thunderbird ships. Other main characters included Lady Penelope and Brains. Pictured: A Dinky No.100 “Thunderbirds” – Lady Penelope’s FAB1 – pink, clear roof slides, gold interior with “Lady Penelope & Parker” figures, cast detailed hubs – comes with missiles and harpoons in bag – overall condition appears to be generally Near Mint, still a superb example in a Near Mint bubble pack. Sold for £360 at Vectis, August 2015. Image Copyright Vectis. As with all die-cast models condition is everything and this is a very good example. There have been several versions over the years of this classic and Corgi are releasing a 50th Anniversary version – click for more details. It was the fourth Supermarionation puppet TV series to be produced by APF. Previous shows included Four Feather Falls, Supercar, Fireball XL5 and Stingray. Supermarionation used a form of electronic marionette puppetry combined with scale model special effects sequences. The Thunderbird Ships Thunderbird 1: a hypersonic rocket plane used for fast response and accident zone reconnaissance. Piloted by primary rescue co-ordinator Scott Tracy. Thunderbird 2: a supersonic carrier aircraft that transports rescue vehicles and equipment to accident zones in detachable capsules known as “Pods”. Piloted by Virgil. Thunderbird 3: a single-stage-to-orbit spacecraft. Piloted alternately by Alan and John, with Scott as co-pilot. Thunderbird 4: a utility submersible. Piloted by Gordon and normally launched from Thunderbird 2. Thunderbird 5: a space station that relays distress calls from around the world. Manned alternately by “Space Monitors” John and Alan. JR21 (named after managing director Jack Rosenthal) which later became Century 21 produced a range of toys featuring all the vehicles (Thunderbirds 1-5 and Lady Penelope’s FAB 1) in the show and some with variations. These JR21 and Century 21 toys have become collectables with models in boxes in very good condition fetching up to £300. Robert Harrop have been producing Supermarionation and Thunderbirds models for a number of years and their reproductions have won many fans and plaudits. Robert Harrop started producing figures in 1986 with their initial range of Doggie People. They have made models of all the main characters, associated characters, models and scenes and have designed a range to celebrate the 50th anniversary. Below are a selection of the 50th anniversary models. Tracy Island – The Greatest Toy Ever In 1992, Tracy Island became a phenomenon in the UK, after Thunderbirds was re-run on BBC2 and generated massive interest in Thunderbird related toys. The Tracy Island playset was top of many Christmas lists but large demand resulted in a shortage that left many parents and children upset. Pictured: 1992 Matchbox Tracy Island. These now sell boxed from £40-£100. The story was reported in the national news and is cited as the archetypal mistake to be avoided by the toy industry in general during the Christmas shopping season. Blue Peter responded to the stock shortage by demonstrating how to build a home-made version. Another release of the series in 2000 also sparked a peak in interest and a new Tracy Island playset from Vivid Imaginations went on to become the best-selling toy of 2000. Blue Peter once again had an island building creation. Thunderbirds on TV and in the movies Thunderbirds original series 1965 Thunderbirds Are Go film 1966 Thunderbird 6 film 1968 Thunderbirds film 2004 Thunderbirds Are Go tv series 2015 Other Thunderbirds Collectables and Ephemera There have been many Thunderbirds advertising tie-ins, books, ephemera, models, puppets, coins and more produced over the years – too numerous too mention in a brief article. Below are a few we like here at WCN. Thunderbirds Collectables and Toys related links Thunderbirds Vintage Toys has some great information and many wonderful images of rare and unusual Thunderbirds merchandise – click to visit. Stingray Collectables and Stingray Toys Price Guide
Britain is a nation of gardeners; I’ve heard that 80% of houses in Britain have private gardens, covering an area twice as large as Surrey. That’s fifteen million gardens in our green and pleasant land. Every weekend sees thousands of us making our way to garden centres, where we choose plants, bulbs, seeds and sundries to try to make our garden beautiful. Slugs, aphids and caterpillars eat most of them, but gardeners are a tolerant bunch – it’s not just the plants, it’s the general feeling of well-being and of feeling at one with nature which urges us to plunge our hands into the soil to embed yet another plant into the ground. Pictured right: Alpine Strawberry by Roy Kirkham plate Some of us build conservatories, or maybe garden shelters, so that we can use the garden as an extension of our homes even when the weather is inclement. We dot ornaments around the flower beds, nesting boxes and insect homes along the garden walls and we build ponds and fountains so birds can bathe. When we dine in the garden, we use floral plates, butterfly-decorated glasses, flowery cutlery – and all these things can be deemed collectable, whether you use vintage pieces or go for modern or retro designs. Even if you don’t have a garden, you can still create a garden feel indoors by collecting items with a floral or naturalistic theme. I’ve known people who have created an indoor garden by displaying pretty flowered plates against white wall-mounted trellis and hanging a few indoor plants to enhance the effect. Another way of ‘garden collecting’ is to collect old gardening items, from tools to seed packets, and from statues to lawnmowers. The most obvious choice for garden collectables is probably the well-known ‘Botanic Garden’ range of tableware made by Portmeirion pottery. Portmeirion, though, have produced many other beautiful designs which would look stunning at an alfresco meal. Pictured right: 1980s Portmeirion British Birds One of my personal favourites is the ‘British Birds’ design, based on illustrations from the Natural History of British Birds by Edward Donovan, published in 1794. Forty birds were featured in the collection, and because the designs are in a antiquated style the pieces have a timeless quality about them, which is probably why they have remained in production for so long. This pattern was originally conceived in 1974, and sadly is not now sold in Britain, though is still available in America. I acquired my items in the 1980s when visiting the shop in Portmeirion village, but pieces do crop up at collector’s fairs. Pictured left: Portmeirion Strawberry Fair I’m also very fond of the ‘Strawberry Fair’ decoration – perfect for serving scones on a summer’s day – and the ‘Pomona’ design of varieties of fruits. There are many other Portmeirion designs with a ‘garden’ theme, amongst them the recent ‘Hungry Caterpillar’ which is based on the popular picture book by Eric Carle. Incidentally, if you are visiting North Wales, do try to visit the village of Portmeirion. The pottery isn’t made there, though there is a shop selling the current range – but the village is stunningly quirky. It’s as though a slice of a sleepy Italian village has been deposited on a beautiful stretch of Welsh coastline; it’s a restful place and one of my all-time special spots. Pictured right: Meakin Poppy Jug 1960s Many ranges of tableware from the 1960s and 70s employed the flower motif – these were the days of flower power. Think Meakin, for the delicate pink floral ‘Filigree’ design, or the more bold ‘Poppy’, while ‘Topic’, with its blue stylised flowers is classic 60s elegance. Even more stylised is the swirling 1960s ‘Spanish Garden’ from Midwinter, while their ‘Country Garden’, with its pattern of leaves and buds symmetrically curling from either side of a large blue and pink flower, is beautiful. It would be impossible to mention all the floral ranges – practically every manufacturer of tableware has included a floral design at one time – but they range from delicate chintz type patterns to vibrant, bold roses. Pictured left: 1960s Meakin Filigree & Viners Love Story Floral china is perfect for a meal in the garden on a summer’s day, and can be themed with pretty cutlery, such as the 1960s’ Viner’s ‘Love Story’ which bears a design of tiny silver daisies. Don’t forget glasses; there are plenty of beautiful designs to look out for, both vintage and modern, featuring flowers, leaves or butterflies. You could look out for a suitable vintage tablecloth, too – ‘lazy daisy’ stitch was very popular in the 1930s, 40s and 50s and will complement your garden theme. If you’re worried about risking your treasured china in the garden, then there are plenty of modern plastic pieces around – and some, such as the gorgeous retro sixties floral designs which Asda came up not so long ago, might even become future classics! As well as tablecloths, other fabric items can be used outside including cushions, throws and canopies; look out for vintage patterns, such as the large-flowered round-petalled daisy types from the 1960s and the bold flowered orange and deep green 1970s’ designs. It’s best, though, to bring them in at night as they could get damp, and also not to keep them in the sunlight for too long, in case they fade. Floral handbags and scarves, or wicker shopping baskets and hampers look good artlessly dotted around at a garden party or a get-together. They add an element of fun, and are a great way of displaying a collection of traditional or retro items. I’m a Simon Drew fan – he is an artist with a quirky sense of humour. He’s based at Dartmouth where he has a shop and gallery, and many of his designs are based on puns such as a ‘receding hare’ or ‘joined up whiting’. Some of his garden themes, including ‘Incapability Brown’ have been featured in a range of ‘bug proof’ mugs. They come […]
The Who celebrate 50 years of rock in 2014 and we take a look at their history, impact and most importantly for us their collectables. The Who are an English rock band that formed in 1964. Their best known line-up consisted of lead singer Roger Daltrey, guitarist Pete Townshend, bassist John Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon. They are considered one of the most influential rock bands of the 20th century and are one of the world’s best-selling bands. Pictured left: The Who My Generation LP 1965 on the Brunswick label. Mono 1st Press. In mint condition this record can sell for around £300. This actual LP sold on ebay for £283 in Nov 2014. The Who developed from an earlier group, the Detours, before stabilising around a line-up of Daltrey, Townshend, Entwistle and Moon. After releasing a single as the High Numbers, the group established themselves as part of the mod movement and featured auto-destructive art by destroying guitars and drums on stage. Pictured right: The Who A concert poster THE WHO in A Two-Hour Non Stop Concert To Include Tommy, London Coliseum, Sunday, 14th December, 1969. Sold for £1,000 at Christies, London in June 2010. They achieved recognition in the UK after their first single as the Who, “I Can’t Explain”, reached the top ten. A string of successful singles followed, including “My Generation”, “Substitute” and “Happy Jack”. Although initially regarded as a singles act, they also found success with the albums My Generation and A Quick One. In 1967, they achieved success in the US after performing at the Monterey Pop Festival, and with the top ten single “I Can See for Miles”. They released The Who Sell Out at the end of the year, and spent much of 1968 touring. Pictured left: Pete Townshend / The Who: A cherry red Gibson SG Special guitar, serial number 884484 stamped 2, circa late 1967, owned and used by Pete Townshend in the early 1970s – early 1980s; the double cutaway body in cherry red finish, mahogany neck, Grover machine heads, 22 fret bound fingerboard with dot inlays, two P90 pickups, four rotary controls, selector switch, metal bridge, black pickguard bound in white, tailpiece removed; original Gibson contour hardshell case with scarlet plush lining; accompanied by a letter signed by Townshend detailing the provenance. Sold for £37,500 inc premium at Bonhams, Knightsbridge, June 2014. The group’s fourth album, 1969’s rock opera Tommy, was a major commercial and critical success. Subsequent live appearances at Woodstock and the Isle of Wight Festival, along with the live album Live At Leeds, transformed the Who’s reputation from a hit-singles band into a respected rock act. With their success came increased pressure on lead songwriter Townshend, and the follow-up to Tommy, Lifehouse, was abandoned in favour of 1971’s Who’s Next. Pictured right: A rare Quadrophenia film poster, 1980, large format for the Italian release of the film starring Phil Daniels, Leslie Ash and Sting, directed by Franc Roddam, 140 x 100cm, framed and glazed. Sold for £525 inc premium at Bonhams, Goodwood , July 2013. The group subsequently released Quadrophenia (1973) and The Who by Numbers (1975), oversaw the film adaptation of Tommy and toured to large audiences before semi-retiring from live performances at the end of 1976. The release of Who Are You in August 1978 was overshadowed by the death of Moon on 7 September. Pictured left: The Who David Bailey Live Aid – A black and white limited edition photograph of The Who by David Bailey, 1985, signed by the photographer and on the verso in black felt pen by Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle and Kenny Jones, additionally signed in pencil by the photographer, dated 85 and numbered 1/3. Sold for £960 at Christies, London in May 2006. Kenney Jones, formerly of the Small Faces and the Faces, replaced Moon and the group resumed touring. A film adaptation of Quadrophenia and the retrospective documentary The Kids Are Alright were released in 1979. The group continued recording, releasing Face Dances in 1981 and It’s Hard the following year, before breaking up. They occasionally re-formed for live appearances such as Live Aid in 1985, a 25th anniversary tour in 1989 and for a tour of Quadrophenia in 1996. Pictured left: The Who – A very rare concert poster Uxbridge Blues And Folk Festival, 19th June, 1965, artists include The Who, Marianne Faithfull, John Mayall, The Birds, Long John Baldry, Spencer Davis, Zoot Money, and others — 29x40in. (75×101.6cm.) Sold for £9,375 at Christies, London in June 2010. The Who resumed regular touring in 1999, with drummer Zak Starkey, to a positive response, and were considering the possibility of a new album, but these plans were stalled by Entwistle’s death in June 2002. Townshend and Daltrey elected to continue as the Who, releasing Endless Wire (2006), which reached the top ten in the UK and US. The group continued to play live regularly, including the Quadrophenia and More tour in 2012, before announcing in 2014 their intention to retire from touring following a new album and accompanying live shows ending the following year. Pictured right: This Japan Polydor 7″ 45 The Who Won’t Get Fooled Again / Don’t Know Myself DP 1817 sold for £819 on ebay in August 2014. With 50 years behind them many studio albums, live albums, many tours, numerous singles and ephemera, there is plenty for the collector to collect. Many of the international pressings of The Who’s albums can be more valuable than the UK pressings. Japanese pressings are of great interest to certain collectors. With the re-emergence of record players, there is once again an increased market for records.
Bonzo is probably the most popular character collected from the 1920’s right through to present day. A strange looking creature with a pudgy face and bright blue eyes he has appeared on everything from postcards through to toffee tins. I felt the urge to find out what made this little dog one of the top collectors items on the market and why he was so envied by all in his day. Pictured – George Studdy, Bonzo’s creator. Image courtesy of Richard Fitzpatrick. George Studdy, Bonzo’s creator was born on 23rd June 1878 in Devonport, Plymouth. He had one older sister and a younger brother and all were brought up in a strict household due to their father Ernest Studdy, being a lieutenant in the 32nd Regiment, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. Ernest was hopeful that one of his sons would also follow a military career but due to an injury to his foot George’s life took a completely different path. His Aunt was aware that George had a love for art and gifted him £100 to start him on his way. He attended evening classes at Heatherley’s Art School and also one term at Calderon’s Animal School where he studied animal anatomy. He began to put a portfolio together and was then able to sell some of his sketches to publications and make a little money for himself. Comic Cuts was the first ever publication to buy his work on a regular basis and this was the start of George building up his client base amongst the Fleet Street publishers. Pictured – The Bonzo Book. By 1912 George’s reputation was formidable as a cartoonist and had illustrations appearing in all sorts of publications from “The Tatler” to “The Sketch”. An odd little dog kept appearing in his illustrations but it was not until 1918 when the editor of “The Sketch” became interested in what was known as “The Studdy Dog” that this little character really began to develop. Changing from recognised breeds over the years this little dog began to take on the form of a more cartoon character appearance, a mischievous pup he really caught the hearts of all the readers but there was one thing missing – his name! After receiving a host of letters from readers asking when this pup’s name was going to be divulged. The Editor of “The Sketch” Bruce Ingram, made the decision in 1922 and announced to the world that that this dog was called “Bonzo” and changed Studdy’s weekly illustration from “This Week’s Studdy” to “This Week’s Bonzo” thus the first official appearance of the cute little pup as we know and love him today. George and his wife Blanche had a daughter Vivienne who appeared in some of these sketches alongside Bonzo but she was not always happy with the end result especially when “Heads I win” was published. It wasn’t the fact that a little girl was crying against the wall with a headless doll in her hands and Bonzo grinning with a dolls head in his mouth that upset her but the fact that her knickers were showing and her socks were half way down her legs “I would never had looked that dishevelled!” she told her father. Pictured – A collection of various Bonzo soft toys. Image courtesy of Richard Fitzpatrick. Bonzo went from strength to strength and was in huge demand. Other publications wanted him on board and he was a regular image on various advertisements. He even appeared in neon lights in London’s Piccadilly Circus. The little pup began to pop up everywhere and so also did a host of Bonzo merchandise. Items such as scent bottles; plates, ashtrays and condiment sets were just the tip of the merchandise iceberg. Every toy shop in the country had Bonzo Toys that were made by both Chad Valley and Deans Rag Book Company. George was producing hundreds of postcards, which was the strongest market and today are collected all over the world. Bonzo even stared in 26 films for which George and ten other artists had to illustrate thousands of drawings, these ten minute films were released during 1924 and 1925. Sadly “The Sketch” finally made the decision to give poor little tired Bonzo a holiday after over 5 years of publication – this was to be his final appearance in the newspaper although George returned with other characters such as Ooloo! in 1929. Although he was no longer in “The Sketch” his image appeared in the countless postcards published by Valentines of Dundee and Dean’s published him in many Bonzo books from 1935. George Studdy sadly passed away in 1948 but the Annuals continued to be published up until 1952 other artists were used but the quality was no where near as good so Bonzo too was laid to rest Pictured – A modern enamelled badge. This was originally made by Richard Dennis to accompany the publication of The Bonzo Book by Paul Babb & Gay Owen. The badge has proved so popular with collectors that the Richard Dennis company still makes it today. Image courtesy of Richard Fitzpatrick. This strange little dog was part of people’s lives for over 30 years and is still very much part of collectors lives today. Anything associated with him now commands high prices on the secondary market especially the more unusual items. “Bonzo The Life and Work of George Studdy” is published by Richard Dennis Publications and written by Paul Babb and Gay Owen. Both are avid collectors of this little character and Paul explained to me that it was Studdy’s humour that made Bonzo such an interesting item to collect. The rarest items in Paul’s collection are original artwork and paintings that he acquired at an auction many years ago when illustrators were not so sought after or highly regarded as today. There are so many different pieces of merchandise to collect but one of the most sought after items by collectors is the Bonzo toffee tins manufactured by […]
These days there is a definite tendency to over-use adjectives such as ‘extraordinary’ and ‘inspirational’ but when these words are applied to the achievements of Margarete Steiff, founder of the world famous Steiff company, their use is amply justified. In the nineteenth century, to be female was almost as great a stumbling block to achieving international commercial success as being disabled. Margarete was both and yet she overcame these ‘disadvantages’ to establish a business that was phenomenally successful in her own day and remains so today, 127 years after it was founded. Pictured right: Recreation of Richard Steiff’s workshop, featuring a scale replica of 55 PB, the world’s first teddy bear Born in Giengen, Germany in 1847 to a master builder and his wife, Margarete was stricken with polio before she reached her second year, leaving her paralysed in both legs and with a severely weakened right arm. It was a devastating setback that left her confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life but whilst the polio was able to damage Margarete physically, it was unable to destroy her spirit. Surrounded by a loving family, she grew up with a strong sense of confidence in her abilities and with a vision to earn her own living. She took the first step towards achieving this goal when she began dressmaking in 1866 and, eleven years later, opened her own shop selling felt garments which she had designed and made herself. As the business prospered, Margarete was able to employ a few people to help produce her garments. Pictured left: PB 28, Richard Steiff’s second jointed bear, also known to collectors as the Rod Bear The switch to toy making occurred in 1880 when Margarete used a pattern from a German magazine to create a small felt elephant which could be used as a pincushion or simply as a toy. Encouraged by the positive reaction of friends to whom she showed the elephant, Margarete started to experiment, making felt dogs, cats, horses, rabbits and pigs as well as the original elephant. The more she made, the more people wanted them, and thus Margarete Steiff GmbH was born. As her business grew, Margarete devised ways of bringing her products to the attention of an ever-increasing audience. In 1892, for example, the company produced its first catalogue which featured the maxim, ‘Only the best is good enough for our children.’ Simple and to the point, the motto is still used by the Steiff company today. Another step towards worldwide recognition came in 1897 when Margarete booked a stand for the first time at the Leipzig Toy Fair, the toy industry’s most important trade event. Unable to attend in pers on, Margarete arranged for a new employee to represent her company at this prestigious fair. The young man in question, fresh out of college having just completed his studies at the Stuttgart School of Art, was to play a seminal role in the future of Steiff. A favourite nephew of Margarete, his name was Richard Steiff and his gift to the world was the Teddy bear, arguably the best-loved toy of all time. Pictured right: First Steiff catalogue, produced in 1892; it introduced the company’s motto, ‘Only the best is good enough for our children’ Until the early twentieth century, bears had been represented in toy form as fierce and somewhat unlovable but Richard Steiff was determined to change that. He had a passion for real bears and made it his mission to create a soft toy bear that would win the hearts of children. To this end he made countless sketches of the bears he saw at Stuttgart Zoo as well as those found in travelling circuses and animal shows. At the end of the nineteenth century he designed a number of bears on wheels that could be ridden on or pulled along, and he also produced bears that stood up on their hind legs. In all his experimentation, his object was to give the toy bears life-like movement but nothing quite satisfied him. Then, in 1902, he made a significant breakthrough, creating a bear that was able to move thanks to its innovative string-joints. Called Bär 55 PB, it was destined to take the world by storm. Pictured left: Margarete Steiff holding Richard Steiff’s perfected bear First, however, the new toy had to be unveiled to the world and the venue chosen for this was the 1903 Leipzig Toy Fair. At first, the reaction to Steiff’s new, jointed bear was disappointing but that changed when an influential New York buyer, searching for something new and unusual, placed an order for 3000 of them. The arrival of Bär 55 PB in America coincided with President Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt’s much publicised refusal to shoot an injured bear for sport. Public perception linked the new toy bear with the popular President and thus the ‘Teddy’ bear was born. To cope with the unprecedented demand for the bears and to accommodate the rapid expansion of the company, a state-of-the-art glass and steel factory was erected in Giengen in 1903. So revolutionary was the design of the building that it does not look dated and is still in use today. For all its success, however, Richard Steiff was not entirely satisfied with his jointed bear and he continued to experiment and develop. His aim was to perfect his design and in 1905 he achieved this by replacing the bear’s string joints with disc joints, an ingenious method that has remained in use to the present day, 100 years after its invention. This ‘perfected’ bear met with unparalleled success, requiring Steiff to produce 974,000 of them in 1907 alone. Margarete Steiff died just two years later but her company continued to flourish in the capable hands of her nephews. Their combined vision and business acumen enabled the company to grow and to weather the worst that the troubled 20th century had to offer. Today, Steiff has an unrivalled worldwide reputation for the excellence of […]
Whilst travelling back from a toy fair where I saw a couple of Banana Splits toys, The Dickies version of the Banana Splits Tra La La song came on the radio. I was a massive fan of the show when I was younger so I thought I would indulge myself and cobble together a feature and on Collecting the Banana Splits and Banana Splits collectibles. The feature includes some vintage and newer Banana Splits collectibles and a price guide for the items. In 1967, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera approached Sid Krofft and Marty Krofft to design costumes for a television show which would feature animated and live-action segments, with the whole show hosted by a bubblegum rock group of anthropomorphic characters. The format of the show was loosely based on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. The Banana Splits Adventure Hour premiered on NBC on September 7, 1968. Each show represented a meeting of the “Banana Splits Club”, and the wraparounds featured the adventures of the club members, who doubled as a musical quartet, meant to be reminiscent of The Monkees. The main characters were Fleegle, a beagle (possibly crossed with a flat-coated retriever); Bingo, an orange-furred gorilla (possibly, half-orangutan); Drooper, a lion; and Snorky, called “Snork” in the theme song lyrics, an elephant. Fleegle would assume the role as leader of the Banana Splits and preside at club meetings. The characters were played by actors in voluminous fleecy costumes similar to later Sid and Marty Krofft characters such as H.R. Pufnstuf. They all spoke in English – Drooper with a Southern drawl in the manner of Michael Nesmith, Fleegle with a pronounced lisp – except for Snorky who “spoke” in honking noises. The Banana Splits’ segments included cartoons, songs, comedy skits, and live action features. Cartoons included Arabian Knights, The Three Musketeers and repeats of The Hillbilly Bears, a cartoon segment that previously appeared on The Atom Ant Show (1965–1968). The show’s live-action segments included Danger Island, a cliffhanger serial, as well as the short-lived Micro Ventures, an animated series consisting of only four episodes. For the first season, some of the live-action segments – specifically those used during the musical segments – were shot at Six Flags Over Texas, an amusement park located in Arlington, Texas. For the second season, filming took place at Coney Island amusement park in Cincinnati, Ohio. In many episodes, the Banana Splits would be seen riding on the Runaway Mine Train roller coasters, Log Flumes, Bumper Cars, Merry-Go-Rounds, and many other rides at Six Flags and Coney Island. The Sour Grapes Bunch is a group of human girl characters from the Banana Splits. One of the members of the club – Charley, usually played by Shirley Hillstrom – would bring a written note to the Splits. None of the Sour Grapes spoke in the entire series; however, they would also do a number with the Banana Splits. In the first-season episode on October 5, 1968, a song debuted entitled “Doin’ The Banana Split,” as all five girls appeared together with the Splits. The Banana Buggies and Toys Who didn’t want a Banana Splits buggy? The Banana splits buggies were customized Amphicat six-wheel drive all-terrain vehicles each decorated to resemble the character who drove them. These were seen driven by each live-action character in the opening and closing segments and occasionally in show segments. The closest most collectors will get to the Banana Buggy were the plastic 1/25 scale model kits issued by Aurora Plastics Corporation in 1969 and discontinued in 1971. These were only out for two seasons and when seen a mint in box edition will sell for over $200. A recent sale on ebay saw a excellent example sell for £220 ($281). Funko released a series of four Dorbz Ridez models in 2016 based on the series released in editions of 300 at the San Diego Comic Con (Banana Buggy with Bingo and Banana Buggy with Bingo with Snorky) and New York Comic Con (Banana Buggy with Fleegle and Banana Buggy with Bingo with Drooper) . These are now selling for between $75 and $100 each. Banana Splits and Comics Gold Key began publishing a comic version of The Banana Splits’ adventures in 1969, releasing eight issues through 1971. The series was drawn by Jack Manning and followed the Banana Splits team trying to find work or on the road between gigs. Issue number 1 in high grade VFNM CGC 9.0 will sell for about $150. In 2017 DC comics made a Banana Splits had a crossover with the Suicide Squad in Suicide Squad/Banana Splits Annual #1. “SUICIDE SPLITS”! Mistaken for metahumans, thrown in the bowels of Belle Reve, the animal rock band Banana Splits are recruited by Amanda Waller for a secret mission: to save the Suicide Squad! What follows is the weirdest team-up you never thought you’d see! How can Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper and Snorky stand up to Harley, Deadshot, Katana and Croc? Banana Splits Reference Professor Plastic the banana splits banana buggy
The Martin Brother’s pottery was established at Pomona House, Fulham, London, in 1873, moving to Southall in 1877. Of the four Martin Brothers, Walter Fraser, Edwin, Charles and Robert Wallace, it is Robert who as the chief modeler and designer of the pottery is best known today. They made very distinctive stonewares and while the Martin Brother’s are perhaps best known for producing the grotesque or ‘Wally’ bird tobacco jars, and mugs and jugs decorated with grotesque faces, this formed only a relatively small part of their production. Pictured right – An imposing large Robert Wallace Martin stoneware bird jar dated 1882 black-painted wood socle, flange inscribed R. W. Martin, Sc./Southall Pottery, 2-11-1882, base inscribed R. W. Martin/London/& Southall/1882. height 25 1/2 in. (64.8 cm.)., from the Sotheby’s Harriman Judd Collection of British Art Pottery, New York in 2001 sold for $81,250. Initially, architectural works were produced for which Charles as business manager and developer was largely responsible. The vessels, large and small, the form often inspired by vegetables, can be incised with birds amongst grasses or birds perched in branches, or aquatic life, and were inspired by 18th century illustrations, executed in Japanese style. Pictured left – A Robert Wallace Martin monumental stoneware vase circa 1880 incised with birds and palm trees, (firing cracks at foot), impressed MARTIN. height 42 in. (1.07m.)., from the Sotheby’s Harriman Judd Collection of British Art Pottery, New York in 2001 sold for $7,200. A few wealthy or farsighted individuals who saw the individually expressive and original thought that had gone into the creation of the pieces largely bought the wares produced. The final firing of the Southall kiln was in 1914 with only a small percentage of the wares being successful, as had been the case in the last few firings. Pictured left -A Martin Brothers stoneware small double-sided face jug dated 1910 inscribed Martin Bros./London & Sout hall, 5-1910. height 5 1/4 in. (13.3 cm.), from the Sotheby’s Harriman Judd Collection of British Art Pottery, New York in 2001 sold for $5,700. The majority of pieces made by the Martin Brothers at Southall bear the mark RW Martin & Brothers London & Southall along with a number and date. Pieces inscribed and attributed to Robert Wallace Martin himself tend to be the most valuable. Related British Pottery Overview Martin Brothers Pottery at auction
Muffin the Mule was a puppet character on the British children’s television show For the Children that first aired on the BBC in 1946. The show featured a wooden puppet mule who would interact and dance along with human characters. Although the show was very popular with children, it also had an appeal for adults. The humour and wit of the show made it entertaining for all ages. Over the years, Muffin the Mule has become an iconic figure in British culture. He is often referenced in popular culture and has been featured in commercials, movies, and books. For many people, Muffin the Mule is a reminder of their childhood and a symbol of British culture. We take a brief look how Muffin the Mule was created and look at some of the Muffin the Mule collectables and Muffin the Mule merchandise over the years in this Collecting Muffin the Mule feature. The original Muffin the Mule puppet was created in 1933 by puppet maker Fred Tickner for puppeteers Jan Bussell and Ann Hogarth. Although we know him as Muffin, the puppet was originally unnamed. The puppet was part of a puppet circus made for the Hogarth Puppet Theatre. The couple had met while they were both working as puppeteers in London. They married in 1932 and decided to open their own puppet theatre. The original Muffin the Mule puppet was made from papier-mâché and had a wooden head. It was operated by two strings, one attached to each side of the head. Muffin was used for a short while but as Jan Bussell and Ann Hogarth moved on to more experimental and dramatic puppetry he was put away, re-appearing some 12 years later 1946. Bussell and Hogarth were working with presenter Annette Mills (sister of actor John Mills). Annette Mills named the puppet mule “Muffin”, and it first appeared on television in an edition of For the Children broadcast on 20 October 1946, where she performed as a singer, pianist and story teller. She wrote the songs and the music, including Muffin’s popular signature theme song “We Want Muffin! (Muffin The Mule)”, some of which appeared Muffin the Mule songbooks, as well as making records. Ann Hogarth wrote the scripts for the series. The show ran on the BBC until 1955 when Annette Mills died. During the show Muffin the Mule used to clip-clop and dance around on top of a piano which was being played by Annette Mills. Annette and Muffin would interact and the show appealed to not only children but to adults as well. Other characters were later added to the show including Prudence the Kitten (who went on to have her own show), Mr Peregrine the Penguin, Sally the Sea-Lion, Louise the Lamb, Oswald the Ostrich, and Morris and Doris the field mice. As Muffin the Mule’s popularity grew a range of merchandising, toys and comics were created mainly on Muffin but a few products were created featuring other characters. Lesney created a die-cast movable puppet which according the Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh was “the first toy to be marketed under licence as a result of a successful TV appearances”. Other items include Toy Television Sets, a Muffin the Mule Pelham Puppet, games, Metal figures by Argosy Toys, licensed pottery, tins and much more.