Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Goebel DIS 69 - Queen of Hearts Nodder

The elusive nodders. This is the first of two nodders released in the 1951 series, DIS 69, the Queen of Hearts. The TOMART translation reads "'Queen' as rocking figure".

The nodders have a very clever, and simple design. The head has a small rod descending down into the body cavity, at the end of which is a lead weight. At the 'neck' of the figure is a cross bar that rests in a groove set in the opening to the body cavity, and the lead weight acts like a pendulum. Clever.

But, with cleverness comes danger: If you 'nod' too hard, the clever little pendulum becomes a wrecking ball, shattering the body of the figure. Nice. Probably why these thing are so very scarce.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Goebel DIS 67 - Gardener Card

This is one of my favorites of all the Goebels, DIS 67, the gardener card. He is just so well executed. Great face, nice details with the paint brush and bucket, what more can you ask for? TOMART description is "standing man with playing card as body".

And this concludes the figures that were released in the 1951 series. Next up, some nodders! Oh, and for those of you keeping score, these first 10 figures were all modeled by Arthur Möller.

This item is available in the Wonderland Bazaar.

Goebel DIS 66 - Dodo

Now we're talking. A nice, esoteric character. DIS 66, the Dodo, complete with pipe. TOMART description reads "standing bird with pipe"; pretty much sums it up.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Goebel DIS 65 - Tweedledee and Tweedledum

This figure is a bit of a cheat - two for one. DIS 65, Tweedledee and Tweedledum. TOMART lists them as "two men with caps standing side by side". This figure was also used in one of the ashtrays (DIS 107), although I have never seen one in the flesh. There is also a Tweedle nodder (DIS 93), although it is only a single figure rather than a double.

I know it would have been nearly impossible to do, but I wish these figures had the little flags on the tops of their heads.

This item is available in the Wonderland Bazaar.

Goebel DIS 64 - Carpenter

DIS 64, the Carpenter. TOMART lists the translated description as "standing man with paving stone on head". This was the only figural representation of this character that I am aware of until the release of the Tiny Kingdom figures in the late 1990s.

This item is available in the Wonderland Bazaar.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Goebel DIS 63 - Walrus

Yet another character to get multiple figures, this is DIS 63, the Walrus. This figure has a nice hang tag rather than an affixed sticker. This is also a generic Walt Disney Character sticker, the only variety I've ever seen on Alice figures. It has also been my experience that this figure is the most common (if you can call any Goebel figure common) of the Alice series. TOMART description reads "standing man with top hat and cigar".

For whatever reason, the Germans must like the Walrus, he has a total of FIVE figures (two actual figures, one ashtray, one nodder, and one decanter set). Again, a little more variety anyone? How about a Cheshire Cat or a Caterpillar! Geez..

This item is available in the Wonderland Bazaar.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Goebel DIS 62 - Alice

NOTE: This is a bit of a repost, but I have consolidated the original post into the introduction and this post, plus this post has a lot more detail on the origin of this figure and its design.

This is the Alice figure, DIS 62. She retains her original label, although it is the generic Walt Disney Character label rather than a specific named character label. The TOMART description is "standing girl with hands at her skirt".

The striped stockings have always intrigued me. A lot of pre-production art depicts Alice with the red-striped stockings, and this still looks remarkably like the pose in the figure.

The comic book adaptation also depicts Alice with the red-striped stockings.

The comic book will be important later in the Goebel series as well.

Goebel DIS 61 - White Rabbit

The next figure in the series is the White Rabbit, DIS 61. Yet another character to have multiple figures - two in total - the other being DIS 91. The TOMART description reads "standing rabbit with spectacles and heart on chest".

Friday, July 25, 2008

Goebel DIS 60 - Queen of Hearts

DIS 60 - Queen of Hearts. TOMART describes her as 'female figurine with animal under arm'. I have to say, even though I *know* this is supposed to be a flamingo, it looks more like some sort of demented lizard to me. The Queen is another character to get more than one figure, again a nodder (DIS 69). The Queen is the largest of the figurines (nodders, ashtrays, decanters excluded) at roughly 4" tall.

Goebel DIS 59 - King of Hearts

DIS 59 - the King of Hearts. The TOMART description for this figurine is 'standing figure with crown'. It interesting that the King of Hearts is one of the few characters to have multiple figures - the other being a nodder (DIS 70). I've never been able to figure out the rationale used to decide which characters got multiple figures, and why some characters were not depicted at all! Alice in Wonderland has more characters than any other film of the era, so why do multiples? And no Cheshire Cat or Caterpillar? What were the Germans thinking!

This item is available in the Wonderland Bazaar.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Goebel DIS 58 - The Mad Hatter

The first Goebel in the Alice in Wonderland set is DIS 58 - the Mad Hatter. This is the largest of the three Mad Hatters made by Goebel, and is identified in the original TOMART listing as "Standing man with top hat"

This item is available in the Wonderland Bazaar.

The Great Goebel Posting - Introduction

After much persuasion by my daughter, and a recent acquisition (yay!), I have decided to post the Disney Alice Goebels. I hope I don't bore too many of you.

In the 1950s Disney had a contract with German porcelain maker Goebel (of Hummel fame), and they produced a series of over 200 figures based on Disney characters. The series based on the Alice in Wonderland characters was extensive, with more than 20 separate figures including decanters, nodders and ashtrays.

Goebels. The name has almost mystical significance in the Disneyana world. Highly prized, difficult to find under the best of circumstances, these German figures are some of the most elusive items in the world of Disneyana.

For years the only reference on the Goebels was the fantastic set of Tomart books. Sections on the Goebels appeared in Volume 2 and Condensed Edition. In those books Tom Tumbusch listed the figures by their item number as received from Goebel. The problem was that the list was in German, and some errors in translation undoubtedly occurred. Add to this the fact that due to the language barrier or perhaps just lack of knowledge of the characters, several of the named character labels are wrong. I have seen Bruno mislabeled as Pluto, Honest John mislabeled as Brer Fox, and Tuffy the Orphan Kitten mislabeled as Figaro to name a few.

In 2002 a great book was published in Germany that listed all the figures AND had a few color photographs and reproductions of several original catalog pages that showed the various figures identified by their stock numbers - including ALL the Alice figures! This book can be ordered from

All Disney figures have numbers beginning with DIS followed by a number. There are 26 in the Alice in Wonderland series, beginning with DIS 58 and ending with DIS 110 (with obviously a few non-Alice in between). There were two 'series' (for lack of a better word), the first released in 1951, the second in 1952. The first series consisted of 10 figures and 2 nodders. The second series consisted of 7 figures, 2 nodders, 4 ashtrays, and 1 decanter set.

One thing the German book revealed was that there was a typo in the original TOMART list: DIS 106 was incorrectly identified as an ashtray based on DIS 68 - which is not possible since DIS 68 is a wall pocket. DIS 106 is really an ashtray based on figure DIS 63 - the Walrus from the Alice in Wonderland set.

According to TOMART the Disney Goebels were only sold in the US for a short time in the 1950s. I have seen Goebel figures with Disneyland prices tags and Emporium labels, so they must have been sold at least into 1955. It is unclear exactly how many of the Goebels were actually sold in the US, and based on some of the named labels many were only available in Germany.

Over the next several days I will be posting photos of the majority of the Alice set. Enjoy.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Alice 'Starlet' Paper Doll

Here we have an unusual Alice paper doll set, part of a set of 4 from 1960 called Starlets, featuring Cinderella, Annette, Snow White, and of course Alice. I guess Alice was supposed to be the kid sister of the group, like Skipper was to Barbie. Why they didn't include Sleeping Beauty instead of Alice is a mystery, but there it is.

Alice looks quite fetching in her blue one piece with matching blue hair ribbon (what happened to her black one?). And I must say the high-heeled Mary Janes are very stylish indeed. I've always thought that Alice as rendered here resembled Bridget Fonda...

Alice came with a dizzying array of *ahem* stylish outfits, some with matching hats!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Disneyland Postcard D-2 - Upside-Down Room

A difficult to find postcard of one of the casualties of the attraction re-model in 1984. Although the upside-down room never makes an appearance in the film, it was a very cool part of the original attraction.

I always loved the upside-down goldfish bowl.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

News from Disneyland - Alice's Wonderland Dream Brought to Life in Fantasyland

In honor of Disneyland's 53rd birthday today, and the Alice attraction's 50th birthday earlier this Spring, here is the original news from Disneyland press release about the opening of the Alice attraction in 1958.

I especially like its description of the dearly departed Upside-Down room. See yesterday's post for some color photos of the interior of the ride.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Original Alice in Wonderland Attraction Color Photographs

Without a lot of fanfare, here are two color photographs of the old Alice ride. Now I know why it was a dark ride...pretty scary looking under bright lights.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Disneyland Charm Bracelet

In honor of Disneyland's anniversary this week, I'll be posting Disneyland-related items. First up is a new category for the blog (courtesy of my lovely wife Wendy) - jewelry.

This is a charm bracelet as sold at Disneyland. It used to have its original blue price tag on the back, but at some point it fell off. Still has its original plastic sleeve though.

I've always pondered the charms on this bracelet. Clearly the White Rabbit is a stock charm, and the Dormouse is a Mickey with slightly stretched ears (that must have hurt!), but they created new charms for Mad Hatter, March Hare and Alice. Why go to the trouble to make new charms for only three? This is even more odd when you consider that during the film's original release in 1951 there was a charm bracelet available that had character-correct charms for the White Rabbit, King of Hearts and Tweedle. Why not use those? The world may never know...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Gund Vinylite Dolls

This page from the 1951 character merchandise catalog promotes some of the more unusual items to come out of the original release: a set of six vinyl dolls made by Gund. Advertised as 'vinylite', these dolls look more like figural pillows than dolls per se.

These dolls were also featured in advertisements in Playthings Magazine,
and had prominent placement in the National Screen Service campaign book.

In real life these dolls are very colorful, easy to clean, but have a tendency towards seam splits.

Characters made are Alice, White Rabbit, Tweedle, Mad Hatter, March Hare, and Queen of Hearts. The character merchandise catalog shows a seventh doll, a variant of Alice, but this was never produced to my knowledge, and the campaign book only lists the six pictured above.

Friday, July 11, 2008

David Hall Storyboard - Alice and Dinah

Some of the best story art created at Disney for Alice in Wonderland was done by David Hall in 1939 when the idea for adapting Alice first took shape. There is a lot of information about David Hall out there so I won't go into too much detail about him, but there is a good article about him here. David Hall was only at the studio for a short time in the late 1930s, and contributed story art for Alice and Peter Pan. Some of his Alice story art was published in 1944 in the book Surprise Package,

and later in a very nice edition of Alice's Adventure's in Wonderland in 1986.

This storyboard was done in late 1939 by David Hall, for a scene early in the film where Alice is playing with Dinah. The original story caption is taped to the storyboard "and sets the silly crown on its head".

What's nice about this particular storyboard is that it has some studio notations on the back

Anyone have a clue as to who 'Filed' this? Notice the feature number, 1017, much earlier than Alice's eventual feature number of 2069.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Alice and the White Rabbit at Disneyland

Inspired by the posts at Daveland and Stuff From the Park, here is my contribution to the 'cute Alice' theme this week. I wish this polaroid had a date on it, but I'm guessing early 1960s. Can anyone figure out where this was taken?

Again, love that fact that Alice's hair is natural, I just *hate* the Alice wigs they wear these days...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Weetman 'Disneyland Ware' Figures - White

As a follow-up to yesterday's post I present to you the solid white variant of the Weetman figures.

I don't really know *exactly* what these are. Were they made to be sold like this, or are they just 'blanks' that got out unpainted? Pictured here are Walrus salt and pepper shakers,

Tweedle shaker and regular figure,

and small-size Mad Hatter figure.

The size difference is odd too. This Mad Hatter is significantly smaller than his full color counterpart, so did they produce multiple sizes for them all?! I hope not...

Supposedly there is a Weetman catalog out there somewhere that pictures LOTS of these figures, as well as the set of Cinderella-ware. I'd love to get a look at it to see what was produced.

UPDATE:  After many years I now have new information.  The small size Hatter and Dee (which I now know is correct) are by Weetman but made (exclusively?) for a company called Good-Win as part of a paint set with the ever-so-obvious name "Paint Your Own Walt Disney Figures in Pottery", some marketing genius at work over there I tell 'ya.  Stay tuned for a full post.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Weetman 'Disneyland Ware' Figures from England

One of the more obscure sets of figures from Alice come from an English company called Weetman. They are most well known for their Cinderella tea set where all the pieces are figural in nature, the tea pot being the pumpkin coach. But they did do a set of figures for Alice as well. I'm not sure how many they did, but for sure they did Mad Hatter, March Hare, Walrus, and Tweedles. They did figures in full color and solid white, and some of the figures also come as salt and peppers.

These are the full color variety for the Mad Hatter, March Hare and Walrus. Their painting is rather odd, but has a certain primitive charm to it. Each of these figures retains its original foil label, much like the Shaw figures had, but it is especially uncommon to find them with labels intact. Other than the styling of the characters themselves, the foil label is the only marking that identifies them as Disney.

Some figures are stamped on the bottom, either ink or incised. I've seen the following marks: Gr. Britain Jersey, Great Britain Channel Islands, Weetman Giftware England.

Monday, July 7, 2008

English Birthday Card Puzzle

This is an English puzzle that was sent as a birthday card. I guess the mail system back then was a lot more forgiving (not automated?) since this is really thick. The puzzle is made of wood and is about 3/8" thick, not counting the outer mailer.

The outer mailer is heavy stock paper that folds around the puzzle and has areas for writing return and destination addresses, and placing a stamp.

The company is Valentine and Sons Ltd. of Great Britain, and they did several puzzles for Alice in Wonderland's original release. Interestingly, all are wooden, I guess that was their specialty. There is a penciled price on the back of this one, 1/6 (one shilling sixpence) which works out to about 20 cents in 1951 dollars.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Peter Puppet Marionette Show

Peter Puppet Playthings made a lot of Disney marionettes, but as far as I know, this was the only full-blown marionette theater set they made with a Disney theme. As with most licensees, they were hoping for a big payday with Alice, probably why they decided to go all out with the marionette theater. And they advertised heavily. This is a very cool full color ad from Playthings magazine advertising the set of three marionettes (Alice, Mad Hatter, March Hare).

The marionettes themselves are pretty scary looking, and not that hard to find. They came in themed boxes with Alice art, and this brochure advertising the marionette stage.

According to the brochure, the full set consisted of stage, curtain, and two backdrops (actually a single double-sided backdrop).

It is difficult to see the backdrop in this photo as my display space is a little cramped so only a fraction of it is visible behind the Alice marionette. It is a miracle that this theater survived at all, since it is really cheap cardboard with screen printed graphics. It probably survived only because whoever owned this stored it in its original box, which is in pretty bad shape. They did a decent job coloring the backdrops too.

The brochure goes on to say that there is a record with the movie theme included as well. And there is, the Golden Record. I guess Peter Puppet worked out some sort of deal with Simon and Schuster to distribute the record with the theater.

And you can't have a puppet show without tickets. Yes, these are Globe tickets.

Not listed but also included is a script for the show.

The two scenes in the script nicely match the two backdrops as well.

Believe it or not, there are actually two variations of the theater. Stay tuned for pictures of the other style...