Tuesday, January 31, 2012

COLLECTION #154: Fisher-Price Toy Fest & Commemorative Toys

When I worked at Fisher-Price in the early 1990s, I began collecting the wonderful reproduction limited edition toys F-P released each year for their annual Toy Fest. Actually, Toy Fest was not a Fisher-Price event, but was put on by the community, through the Toy Town Museum. Fisher-Price has been located in beautiful East Aurora New York for over 80 years. East Aurora has been informally called 'Toy Town', for much of that time.

Me and my four kids at Toy Fest 1992. The theme that year was the Molly Bell cow- notice the kid's T-shirts.
Molly-Bell, 1992
Each year, a special toy, chosen from among Fisher-Price's vast archives of amazing, traditional and colorful wooden toys, was authentically reproduced by Fisher-Price, and was the 'theme' of that year's Toy Fest. Giant floats, gifts, T-shirts, posters and other souvenirs were emblazoned with an image of that toy. The toys were available for sale for a limited amount of time, and then ceased production. Unlike a lot of 'limited and numbered' collectibles of the 80s and 90s, these toys have maintained a fairly high value. I believe this is due to the fact that they are simply awesome!

Snoopy Sniffer 1990

Jingle Elephant 1993

Grand-Pa Frog 1994

Squeaky the Clown 1995

Unfortunately, Toy Fest ceased in 2008. I'm sure there were a lot of reasons for stopping the tradition, but it's still sad. Along with the year's featured toy, there were several other limited edition toys created during the 1990s-2000s. I have the Snoopy Sniffer from 1990, and the Dr. Doodles from 1995. Dr. Doodles came on a lovely wooden stand. Including these two, I have a total of nine Toy Fest toys. I hope you enjoy my collection!

Dr. Doodle 1995

Close-up of the plaque on the wooden base.
Raggedy Ann & Andy 1997
Elsie's Dairy Truck 2000

Woodsy-Wee Zoo 1996

Monday, January 30, 2012

COLLECTION #153: The Illustrations of Maurice Sendak

I can't think of a living artist other than Maurice Sendak, who has captivated me, from an artistic point of view, from my very young childhood until today.  Maurice Sendak began illustrating children's books around the time I was born/ early toddler years, and is still active and grabbing my attention today. I read his books, and bought them for myself as a child. I bought his books when I was a young adult for myself, and I bought them for my children when they were little. Today I have given them to my grandsons, and my children have bought his newer work for me. So, you can see why I feel Maurice Sendak is a significant influence on my life.

From What Can You Do with a Shoe, copyright 1955
From Dear Milli, copyright 1988
 I still have my Nutshell Library I bought when I was in the 6th grade. I suppose by that time most children might have outgrown his child-like artistic style and simple prose or poetry. But not me. I fell in love with the four tiny books, and memorized each one. I can still recite all of "Chicken Soup with Rice".... In January it's so nice, while slipping on the sliding ice, to sip hot chicken soup with rice... sipping once, sipping twice, sipping chicken soup with rice.... Aren't you impressed? I guarantee I can do each month! But I digress!

My copy of Chicken Soup With Rice, and the rest of the Nutshell Library, copyright 1962

 When Where the Wild Things Are came out in the early '60s too, and I was aware of its enchanting story, although I didn't buy it for myself for another decade. I bought In the Night Kitchen in college, and in the years before our marriage, bought several others that inspired me, building up my children's book library for our future children.
Awesome Wild Thing collectible figure
 When I worked for Hasbro in the 1980s, a group of us went to the Rhode Island School of Design to hear Maurice Sendak speak. He was known as a bit reclusive and didn't lecture often, so we jumped at the chance.  He didn't disappoint.

From the Maurice Sendak Poster book

From the Nutcracker, copyright 1984

Copyright 1995
From the Miami Giant

Although I don't consider myself anything close to a Maurice Sendak collector, I do have a fair smattering of titles, and a few have somehow slipped away (Kids? You borrow any of my books? Ian? Annie?) I used to have Higgelty Piggelty Pop, and In the Night Kitchen, and the Juniper Tree, and the Bat Poet.  (Hint hint, I'd like them back!) But this is what's left of my collection, for what it's worth.

From the fabulous pop-up book, Mommy, copyright 2006 (Given to me by my kids Ian & Jessica)

I hope you like Maurice Sendak as much as I do! (Click on any of the images for a closer view).

Sunday, January 29, 2012


This has to be one of the most fascinating and eclectic sites I've ever featured! Radio-Guy  is Steve Erenberg, collector, designer, creative director, sculptor  and expert on many things related to antique medical devices, odd vehicles, unusual radios, vintage lighting, and countless other eccentricities. You must visit his site Radio-Guy to see more examples of his fascinating collections.  He also has a blog called Industrial Anatomy that is a must-read.

Radio-Guy was selected to be in the Collector's Weekly Hall of Fame a little over a year ago, you can read the wonderful interview here.
Although Steve is known for his medical devices, masks and other unusual mechanical objects, he's also involved with industrial lighting, and has an outlet called Early Electrics where you can purchase fun and funky light fixtures.

Friday, January 27, 2012

COLLECTION #152: Houghton Mifflin Vintage Readers

Here is my collection of some of the 1957, 1962 Reading for Meaning series of school readers by Houghton Mifflin Company. These sweet little books have charming illustrators, some of which are done by favorite Corinne Malvern. I have two of the pre-primers, and 6 of the possible 9 readers.  I also have a second copy each of the pre-primers (not shown) with different artwork on the covers.

Adorable illustrations by Corinne Malvern in The Big Show

Thursday, January 26, 2012

COLLECTION #151: Vintage Children's Bingo and Lotto Cards

Love these fun cards- the Lotto cards look to be from the early 20th century, and the animal Bingo cards are probably from the 1930s. The "lotto machine" can be found in this earlier post.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

COLLECTION #150: Antique Valve Prototype

Now that I've reached 150 collections, I'd like to start a new feature here on the Copycat Collector... one I've been thinking about for awhile. When I first started this blog, my idea was that if I had at least three of something, then I considered it a collection. That was sort of based on the original inspiration for the daily collection, and just my wild idea that I had so much stuff certainly I could dig up three or more of any type of thing.  Although I certainly still have a lot of stuff that fits into that 'more than three' criteria, as I've gone through the 'putting things together' and 'photography' steps, I've also noticed that I have quite a few things I'd like to share that are simply loners. Single items (or maybe two) that don't fit into any other category, odd stuff, or orphans, as you will.

I think I have convinced my readers that I am a collector. So, now that I have posted 149 collections, it's time to expand into a weekly feature that I'll call "Orphans".  I'll probably do this every Wednesday for the time being. I'll post a weekly collectible that I think is interesting and newsworthy, but I just have one.
 My first Orphan is this marvelous antique steam engine valve prototype. Isn't it wonderful?  It was given to my husband and I as a wedding present, back in 1978, by one of my oldest and dearest friends. (We've known each other since kindergarten!) And it's obvious she knows me well... I mean, who do you know that would give this type of amazing wedding present? Not me!

Click on the layout for a closer view
It has been lovingly displayed in every home we have lived in, in nearly 34 years of marriage. I even did a layout about it (above), and wrote about it in my other blog a few months ago.

This model is the type of prototype that would be submitted to the US Patent Office for patent issue. In my research, I learned a little bit about Mr. William G. Pike, which you can also read about on my other blog.  I took quite a few shots of some of the interesting parts of the model. It stands about 7" tall, and 7" wide, but the long rod that sticks out of the side makes it about 13" wide.

My favorite thing, other than the beautiful craftsmanship is the handwritten sign that came with the valve. To think that it was written by Mr. William G. Pike back in 1867! That was just three short years after the Civil War ended!  (The tag on the valve is dated December 5, 1867, but the separate tag is dated January 14, 1868,  just about 6 weeks later).
So, I think you can see why this is an 'orphan'. Nope, don't have any other antique steam engine valve prototypes hanging around this house!

A patent drawing by Wm. G Pike for another steam valve 2 years earlier.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

COLLECTION 149: Vintage Children's USA Puzzles & Games

Welcome to Toy Tuesday! There's just something about maps that I love! I especially love old maps, with their fascinating shapes, names, highways, cities...and I love maps of the USA. Maybe it's because I'm unashamedly in love with my country, just seeing these old map puzzles makes me feel proud and nostalgic.  (Click on any of the photos for a closer view)

Oregon, where art thou?
These are my collection of vintage USA puzzles, plus one map game: The Game of the States. One of these map puzzles was my own as a child, the one shown below. I'm so glad that I never lost a piece, and that I somehow managed to hang onto it all these years.

Mostly, I just put them up on a high shelf as part of my greater toy collection, and rarely explore further. When I was cleaning these off to photograph, I opened the box of the one on the bottom right side- in the orange box. I thought it would be fun to see if all the states were there, and I was surprised to find two Texas pieces! What? They were completely different, and I quickly realized I had two map puzzles! (well, mostly two, several of the states were missing, but enough to see what fun puzzles I had.) The second puzzle was quite different from the first. The older puzzle, was rather boring and ordinary, but the second one had cool late '50s or early '60s graphics with cute, stylized illustrations of sheep and cows and trains and the like.

Also included in my collection is the old Hasbro Teach-A-Toy map, which includes little flags you can put on the map with the names of capitals and other important cities.

Most of these maps were created before 1960, when the last of the two 50 states were added. But they were sometimes included because they were territories at the time, and considered part of the USA. On one map, the Philippines is included.

I hope you enjoy my little map puzzle collection!