Sunday, October 17, 2010

Doubles ready for a swap!

All the above push ups are ready for new homes! Would anyone like to suggest a swap! Just send me an email or post on here.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Classic Giraffes and mechanism variations!

Giraffes have always been a classic push up puppet!The group shot shows a mixture of Chinese, Italian, English, French and German puppets.

My small collection includes a Jan Staffani wooden giraffe from Germany, a little green TM TOYS giraffe and a plastic 1970s orange favourite.
Mechanisms variations
Most push puppets are controlled by a push up bottom, however there are a few variations.

  • button rocker puppet, press the tiny button on the rocker (fox in picture)

  • paddle action puppet, press the paddle at the sides (tiger in picture)

  • classic hollow base push up action puppet (cow in picture)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Swap Shop and Running with a Sandwich Cards!

Swap Shop! Here are my remaining swap options ! Hope to find new homes...
I found these fantastic cards in a local toy shop, produced by 'Running With a Sandwich'

Friday, April 2, 2010


Every collector ends up with a few 'doubles' , I'd like my doubles/extras to go to a good home. If you can see a push up you would like then I'd be happy to swap, just let me know!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Snapshot of my collection!

Here is a snapshot of my some of my collection!

Kohner celluloid and plastic 1960s-1970s (mini and maxi)
Circus clowns and friends!
Plastic and celluloid animals 1960s-1980s (note paddle tiger 4th from right/front)
On the farm!
Wild animals!
Selection of celluloid/plastic characters from 1960s to present day.
Twin dancing puppets and bugs collection!
German(back 4 rows and front right), Italian and Czech (front left) mini puppets.
The tiny green giraffe and tiny little cats at the front are a mystery (white one is bakelite)
Tri-ang Dog English (left) Wakouwa champs (2nd left) Trix Dog USA (Middle left)
Howdy Doody flub-a-dub Kohner USA (middle left) Howdy Doody NBC Kohner USA (2nd right)
Kohner lamp-post man (right) all from 1940-1950s
Bands: The Wiggles, English Marching Band, Czech made Bug Band
Doggies! Including Snoopy, Brio classic and Pluto Gabriel .
Mixture of animals including Australian Emu and Koala!
Under the sea! I found the lobsters in San Fransisco!
French made quality including the excellent Vilac Noddy!
Merry Xmas!

Mixture including one of my first buys (english footballer centre) and one found in Canada.

Pinocchios, these were bought in Rome, large one on right was bought near St Peters Square.

2010 Japanese collection, these are plastic and stand at about 5inches!

Mixture including: Original Felix (1970s) In the Night Garden collection(2009)
Tate Artist Model (UK) ,Michellin man and Sailor from the SS Great Britain (Bristol UK)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Visit to meet two master craftsmen in Germany.

In 2009 my partner and I decided to travel to Seiffen in the Erzgebirge region, south east Germany. The area is well known for its wooden toy making history. I particularly wanted to visit two mastercraftsman; Karl-Heinz Bilz and Jan Stephani. Both have a long family history of producing beautiful little wooden pushups (Wackelfiguren), and I was very keen to meet them. I hoped to see their workshops!
It took us several train trips, links with country buses and lots of folk saying "Seiffen..wo ist das". No-one seemed to have heard of it... a full day of travel and we arrived at the little town of Sieffen: a toy making heaven!
Our first adventure was to find Jan Stephani; a third generation craftsman, whose grandfather Kurt founded the company in 1935.

I must admit I was quite excited to arrive at Jan's shop (photo left)! I had a few of his push ups, one dating back to his grandfather. I was hoping that he didn't think I was completely mad, travelling all the way from Australia to this tiny little toy making town in the middle of the Erzgebirge mountains, especially to meet him! (photo below right)

Actually I do think he thought I was a bit barmy; he spoke very little English, and I spoke even less German, but I managed to explain why I was there by showing him photos of my collection...he smiled!  He and his wife were very welcoming and I bought all the pushups he had in his workshop!

He then surprised me with a gift. He had (that very day) just finished producing a NEW push up for his catalogue, a penguin (photo left), and very kindly gave me one of his prototypes!
I managed to embarrass myself by tearing up a little. (I know fellow collectors will understand how exciting this little gift was!)

 Photo Above: Bird on the left is by Jan Stephani 2009, bird on the right is by his father (note the marking on the base GERMAN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC)

(photo left) A selection of my Stephani puppets.

Our second adventure was to find Karl -Heinz Bilz, also a third generation craftsman, his grandfather founding the business in 1923!
We set out around Seiffen with a street address and found the little work-shop.(photos below) Karl-Heinz was very welcoming. He also had little English but certainly understood why I was there! 

We were taken into his little workshop where there were 100's of half made little puppets and a couple of ladies hard at work painting and threading! Karl-Heinz also showed us how he turned the wood, and then gave us a couple of puppets!  We felt pretty honoured to be allowed to watch the process.  

A selection of my Karl-Heinz Bilz Push Ups!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Push Button Puppets 'Brief History'!

Brief history of push button puppets...
... where did they come from ? When were they first made?

All Puppets in photos are from my own collection.

Push puppets were first made in Switzerland by a wooden toy maker, Walter Kourt Walss in 1932. These articulated,wobbling toys were known as WAKOUWAS; taken from the first few letters of each of Walter's names! The dancing, wiggling toys are now known by many different names around the world (as listed in my profile).

Photo Left: Wakouwa Champs early wooden base puppet.
The term 'Push Button Puppets' was first adopted by an American toy making company in America, Kohner Brothers in 1947, buying the patent from the Swiss inventor Marty Meinard.

The chap on the left is a Kohner Howdy Doody character puppet, wooden body and plastic base (1950s).


Kohner moved into producing plastic puppets in the 1960s.

Photo Left: 1960s Kohner's The Lone Ranger

In the 1970s Kohner starting produced Disney characters with Gabrielle.

Photo Left: 1970s Pluto Push-up Puppet

Many companies followed the Wakouwa invention and the Kohner push puppets, making similar puppets around the world, including England where the company Tri-ang started producing tin bases and wooden tops!

Photo Above: The Tri-ang Dog on Tin base (1940s)

Right : Tri-ang Dog advert in The Maccano Magazine 1947 (with thanks to  french wakouwa collector Sylvia Dehais)
Many smaller push ups were also made in Germany (mainly in the Erzgebirge region) , the Czech Republic, France and  Italy.
Although initially Wakouwas were all wood, gradually celluloid and plastic became common. Now there are many companies producing push puppets all over the world!
 Photo Left: (1960s?) Italian lion
Photo Right: German Erzebirge region push puppet (2009)

Modern Puppets are now being produced everywhere. It appears anything can be made to  wobble ! Photo Left : just a few modern push ups !