WHERE TO FIND UNIQUE STUFFED ANIMALS
-- SUMMARY OF RESPONSES --
Here, at last, is a summary of the responses to the question I asked a
couple of weeks ago. While my wife's birthday is a bit too close to try
any made or mail-ordered animals this time around (guess I'll have to
settle for a GUND... what a shame :-), there are plenty of possibilities
here for the future.
As a side note, I was giving the issue of stuffed animals a lot of thought
recently (always an enjoyable occupation), and I decided to whip up a
little table designed to compare major brands of stuffed animals for
prospective buyers or collectors. My observations, based largely on
examination of local stores, are rated 1 for Very Low and 5 for Very Good.
Company Typ. Price* Durability Appearance/Quality Variety*
GUND $30 5 5 4
Applause $35 4 4 4
Steiff $60 5** 5 1
Dakin $20 4 4 4
V.I.B $60 2 5 5?
Folkmanis $30 3 5 5
Fiesta $12 3 3 3
HeartWarmers $10 3 3 2
RUSS $15 0*** 3 1
Princess $25 2 3 3
* Variety and Price are based entirely on observation at local retailers.
Price is typical of a 10"-12" stuffed animal.
** I don't own any Steiff toys, but I've read about them in a few toy
guides and there is every indication that they are as durable as they come.
*** I don't own any RUSS toys either, and I have no idea how durable they
? - The Very Important Bears (V.I.B.) are all bears, but they come
dressed as a wide variety of different characters (I own Mr. Spock, of
'Bear Trek', and Bearb Ruth). The bears themselves are medium, if
consistent, quality and probably wouldn't put up with a lot of handling.
Note also that 'Durability' means occasional handling and snuggling;
nothing too *** like slamming things into walls or jumping up and down on
them Hence, the effective durability score for *children* might be a
little lower on the scale.
GUND animals are my favorite, with good variety and unsurpassed quality
for a reasonable price.
Applause makes some very nice endangered animal toys for the WWF, as well
as regular animals. I've always been impressed with their quality, although
they're fairly pricey compared to Dakin or GUND.
Steiff animals are impressive and appear to be as good or better than GUND
animls, but I've never had the heart to plunk $60 on an unadorned 8" bear.
Dakin has a great selection for very reasonable prices; I've got Dakin
elephants, buffaloes (!), and pigs, among others. Mostly Dakin specializes
in infant toys, not collector's animals, so you have to find a good
V.I.B. bears are very impressive, and probably not for everyone (esp.
children). They are real collector's items.
Folkmanis has the widest selection of stuffed puppets I've ever seen, and
each puppet is of unsurpassed appearance and quality. Some of my Folkmanis
puppets have started to show wear though, even with minimal use.
Can't say much about RUSS, I've only viewed their animals in the store.
HeartWarmers & Fiesta toys are carried at the local "Hallmark"/gift shops.
Their quality seems to vary (they probably get them from various overseas
suppliers), but now and then you can pick up a good buy at an excellent
price, like a high-quality 20" dolphin for $20 (a Fiesta toy). I also
would not be surprised if these brand names were local to the South.
Princess has a fair variety of toys, but most seem overpriced and not
very high durability or quality. I've got a couple of nice ones though.
Anyway, on to the summaries. Each article/mail message is separated by 1
dozen en dashes, like this:
% Friends of mine in CA sent my kids a couple of really neat stuffed animals.
% When squeezed, the porpoise and the penguin make very authentic noises!
% It's great for the kids and requires no batteries. I think they got
% them at their local aquarium. The zoo can also be a neat source for
% pre-made stuffed animals. But I hafta agree that making her one would
% be the neatest of all.
% Rick -
% You might want to check out the pattern books at your local sewing stores.
% One of the big names (Simplicity, Butterick or McCall's) has a chicken pattern
% (I don't see a chicken listed below) that a friend of mine made. Of course, if
% you are after very realistic patterns, these may not be what you want. I also
% have seen some pretty nice and more unusual and realistic stuffed animal
% patterns in the Vogue books.
% Hope this helps!
% McCrerey Farm offers handmade, heirloom quality dolls primarily of
% natural fibers. Our line currently includes several sheep, a cat & a
% bunny, as well as Santa dolls.
% I'd be happy to include you on our mailing list (and send you a copy
% of our most recent catalogue) if you send me your address.
% McCrerey Farm also produces traditional crafts, wool and mohair for
% spinning, and other goodies.
% --Kristen McQuillin
% I recommend the Vermont Teddy Bear Company. They make very special
% bears. The bears are made in vermont with -ALL- American made parts.
% This is the only completely American made Teddy Bear. Their bears are
% fully jointed and completely child safe. They tell about the inspector
% who tried to measure how much force it took to remove an eye. When he
% was done, the eye was intact and the measurement devise was broken..
% Anyway, they come bare or with clothes (many different outfits available) and
% each bear has a bouquet of dried flowers and a small box of chocolates.
% Vermont Teddy Bear Company
% Route 7
% Shelburne, VT
% They have an 800 number which I could look for, or you could dial 1800-555-1212
% and ask.
% I have no affiliation with the Vermont Teddy Bear Company. I went to their
% factory, took the tour, and bought a small bear for my daughter. It was
% cindy baehr
% There is a new shop in a mini-mall near me that has stuffed fancy
% goldfish. The prettiest one is black with silver lame' accents.
% I'll try and find out the name and if there is a mail order dept.
% I can't believe that a list this long would have no bunnies!
% No Cats!
% You can certainly find bothe among the patterns in the "crafts"
% section in the back of any standard pattern catalog.
% Sounds like a nice family, though! :-)
% I used to collect stuffed animals. The only ones I remember having
% that you didn't listlist are a giraffe, a moose, a mongoose, a lobster,
% and an anthropomorphic butternut squash (don't ask). I got the mongoose
% in the U.S. *** Islands, the moose in Jackson Hole, WY, and the lobster
% at an aquarium, or maybe in Boston. I think the giraffe should be
% relatively easy to find, though. Oh, yes, I also had a sheep, a cow, and a
% squirrel, but those aren't very ***.
% Speaking of veritable zoos, have you looked in the gift shop at your
% local zoo? That's bound to be a good place to get interesting stuffed
% animals. You might also try looking in catalogs from places like the
% World Wildlife Foundati7n; they tend to sell stuffed endangered animals,
% so you might be able to find a tiger or a zebra. Bat Conservation
% International also has a gift catalog -- a stuffed bat would be pretty
% Let me know if you need the phone numbers for the WWF or BCI. I
% ought to have some catalogs lying around at home.
% Good luck!
% Have you gotten any of the Folkmanis (sp?) puppets. They're all stuff toy
% like, with a slot or a glove for your hand. They have just about every
% conceivable type of animal....off the top of my head:
% Chipmunks, Otters, Snakes, Ravens, Lions, Dragons, Snails, Eagles, Fish,
% assorted Lizards, Racoons, Wolves, Foxes, Squirrels, Bats...
% and lots of bugs, like bees, houseflies, dragonflies,***roaches,
% ladybug, etc...
% Let me know if you need more information about this company, or if you
% know a store that carries some of their items, you should ask to see the
% catalog. It's about 10 pages of some of the most amazing critters!
% Linda Cornell
% Hi Rick, I see by your list you don't have a Kiwi. If you would like me
% to send you one from New Zealand I would be very happy to as long as it
% didn't cost me any money!! Unfortunately surface mail takes around 2
% months from here to there and airmail is so expensive, a stuffed toy
% would set you back around $US05-20 (depending on the size) plus the
% postage would be even more. If you are still interested then let me know
% and we'll go from there.
% PS When is your wife's birthday?
% Hi I could probably find you a New Zealand kiwi,a rather horrible kiwifruit
% with a smiley face and sundry other bad taste New Zealand stuffed toys if you
% were desperate but the best stuffed toys I know of are Galt toys which you
% can't get in New Zealand. Best of luck Clare Smith at
% toys are pretty bad quality, maybe I'd be better looking for a pattern for you.
% Dear Mr. Russell,
% This isn't a pattern, but it is, perhaps, relevant. A company called
% Down North in the Canadian Yukon used to sell, and I think still
% does, adorable stuffed musk oxen. Let me know if you'd like their
% address & phone no. (right now, I'm at work, and my fiber stuff is at
% -Ann Sheffield
% Hi Rick
% For Christmas I made several felt animals. For the first few I used
% patterns from a magazine article, for the rest I just made what I wanted.
% They were all simple as the original article had been about making
% animals as tree decorations however it wouldn't be hard to add gussets
% and things to make them a little more 3d.
% The originals were: bear, beaver, camel, medieval dog (meant to be a deer
% but looked like a dog without its horns)
% The ones I desinged were: llama, sheep and a great crested newt
% The newt is my favourite, the llama also went down very well with
% the person I gave it to.
% In the past one of the most succesful soft toys I made for someone was
% a dinosaur - one with plates down its back. I made it from a sort of
% leafy material so it looked like it was in camoflague gear!
% I can probably find the basic shapes for all these and could FAX them
% to you if you wanted. Let me know if I should start rummaging.
% The best bought soft toy I have is a glove-puppet skunk!
% Good luck
% I recently ordered a stuffed manatee from a catalog called
% "Soundprints". They had other unusual stuffed animals
% (otter, moose, snowshoe hare, etc.), as well as storybooks
% to go with many of them. Unfortunately, I can't find the
% catalog now! I do remember that it was put out in cooperation
% with the Smithsonian, so you could probably call them for more info.
% If I get another catalog from them, I'll pass the info along...
% Good luck,
% Amy Striegel
% This may or may not help you, but I have an issue of "The Herbal
% Companion" magazine (or some name very simlar to that) that had
% some stuffed animals I really hoped Santa would bring me for
% Christmas. They were Sheep, I believe, that were filled with
% herbs the scents of which are conducive to sleep. So, they were
% being sold as comforting toys for children, etc... but they looked
% really cool... something to snuggle with on those days when you're
% home sick without a spouse to hold you while you fitfully rest.
% Just a thought... if you can't find this magazine or can't find
% the ad I'm talking about, I'll try to dig it up at home if you
% are still interested.
% I envy your collection! We've got a pretty sizeable collection,
% too... we are partial to stuffed mooses. If you see any place
% that has a number of mooses, let me know. In particular we would
% like a female stuffed moose... we've got males in a wide variety
% of sizes, but have never seen a female one.
% Best wishes and let me know if I can help you further in your quest...
% PS, I'm jealous that your'e in Texas... that's the only place
% where we've found stuffed armadillos... and we didn't think to
% buy it when we saw it. Now we don't haveone. There ain't
% no armadillos to be found in Rhode Island or Massachusetts,
% let me tell you!
% Rick -
% I have a friend who makes stuffed animals, mostly bears and rabbits.
% They are not exactly cheap, but very nice and well made. Truly art and one of
% a kind. The artist's name is Joel and can be reached at:
% Rhyme & Reason
% Colorado Springs, Colorado
% While I can't find the phone numbers, I must mention FAO Schwartz in NYC.
% They have even more kinds of stuffed animals than you do. :) The most
% astonishing, truly splendid quality stuffed animals in the world are by
% Stieff (or some name very much like that) and cost lots more than I'd
% ever pay.
% And the Dakin line at several Toys R Us stores carries dinosaurs and lobsters.
% And the Chicago Aquarium carries several stuffed whale and shark breeds.
% The prices at these places are reasonable.
% Time for directory assistance and phone calls on Saturday, when it's cheap. :)
% cheers, ejp
% McCalls has a nice pattern for 4 stuffed fish. They look pretty
% easy. (I'm so behind in my sewing. I *have* started cutting the
% pattern for fish B though...) It's in the McCall's pattern book
% in the 'crafts' section.
% I would be very interested in seeing a summary of responses!
% Well, I've made several, and I don't see any bats with LED eyes on your
% list. I may have one left for sale. If you want the pattern, I can
% probably convert it into something you can work with. In general,
% creating a new animal requires a form, test patterns, and several
% trials before the end product doesn't have stupid looking head/arms/etc.
% Well worth the effort if you are into new challanges and personal
% I can give you more specifics if you are interested.
% I don't know about mail-order, but our local science museum has a whole group
% of dinosaurs that come in at least two sizes per beast. I mention these
% because they come from the same source as the poisonous frogs...
% Happy hunting!
% Well, there's a store here in Evanston called Mostly Handmade, and
% they have a stuffed***roach. I kid you not. I swear. It's, well,
% um... kinda, sorta cute... I guess.
% I'll stop by there tomorrow and see if they take orders by mail. In
% addition to ugly bugs they also have a wide assortment of very unique
% stuffed creatures.
% There was an article in a recent issue of Threads that had patterns
% for interesting stuffed animals. I'd say it was 4-6 months ago.
% Check out McCalls-- they have a great lounge lizard pattern -6279- My friend
% made it out of a knit metallic -- It looks great!
% McCalls also has some great dinosaur, fish, and elephant patterns.
% (I was really bored before work today, so I looked at the pattern books. I
% have all the numbers for McCalls wierd animal patterns, as well as the rest of
% the major pattern companies...... I got to work REALLY early today!)
# "Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I'll claw ya, tomorrow! #
# It's only a litter box away!" - Bill the Cat #