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If you already think you know Peanuts Hungerford dolls, there’s a lot more to this story. First produced in 1958 by the Hungerford Plastic Corporation, these polyvinyl plastic Peanuts dolls were the first Peanuts memorabilia. Their popularity through the years has led to their likeness being used to for Ford Falcon promotions, ceramic figurines, squeaky toys and licensed reproductions. Plus, I’ll discuss what collectors want for their collections and how much to expect to pay.
The Original Hungerford Dolls
The Hungerford Plastic Corporation started in 1946. They are most remembered for their plastic dolls for a wide range of 1950’s and 60’s cartoon characters including Disney dolls, Harvey-toons and Rocky and Bullwinkle. The first line-up of about 7″-8″ dolls were introduced in 1958 which included Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy and Snoopy. Following the initial success, they were released in a slightly larger size, around 9″-10″ tall, in 1961. This also saw the addition of baby Sally, Schroeder with his piano and Pigpen to the line-up. The dolls came in a clear, plastic bag with a yellow header on top featuring a comic strip on each side.
The 1958 versus 1961 versions of Lucy and Linus are easy to differentiate. In 1958, Lucy has a red beanie and no accents on her dress. Her hat turns yellow and her dress gets two red lines for the 1961 release. Linus does not have shirt stripes and his hair is a solid mass of color in 1958. However, in 1961, he gets his signature shirt horizontal stripes and his whispy-line type hair.
While researching these dolls, I had much annoyance at trying to figure out which dolls came out when. Sally was easy, since she didn’t exist when the first set of dolls was released. Schroeder and Pigpen were sometimes lumped in with the original release. If the original release was for 8″ dolls, where are these smaller versions of Schroeder and Pigpen? Are they so rare that they don’t turn up frequently enough? After scouring the archives available to me and reading collector guides, I am going with Schroeder and Pigpen were not available until 1961. Anyone with any hard evidence to the contrary, please email me at email@example.com.
Another oddity in this Hungerford puzzle is Schroeder’s piano. One eBay listing had a slightly different piano. Beethoven’s hair was slightly different showing his ears, plus it didn’t say “Beethoven” on the bust. The structure of the piano looked the same as usual. Could this be a rare variant? Or a piano from another Hungerford figure? After an exhaustive search, I couldn’t find any evidence of another piano of this type existing, either for Schroeder or another Hungerford. If you have more information, please email.
Reproduction Schroeder pianos are another item to be wary of online. Be sure you’re getting what you’re paying for when buying vintage. Check the gallery at the bottom of this post for photos.
PEANUTS FOR PROMOTION
A few years back, I was able to pick up an interesting and rare Snoopy Ford Falcon bank. Rather than the usual poly vinyl, it’s a ceramic version of the Snoopy Hungerford doll. On his collar has raised embossing saying “Everybody Loves Falcon Savings”. The embossing would need a custom mold and couldn’t be created after the ceramic was cast. Another interesting feature is the airbrushed paint. These aspects point to a professional-level creation, since creating them wouldn’t be viable for most at-home crafters. The history behind this piece is missing. Was it a sample made for Ford? A limited run for giveaways? If you know more, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PEANUTS WALL PLAQUES
If you thought Peanuts Hungerford dolls weren’t cuddly, try a wall plaque! In the late 1960’s, a licensed series of vacu-formed wall plaques were released by an unknown manufacturer. Vacuformed pieces are created using a thin sheet of plastic formed over a mold. This makes for a very fragile Peanuts Wall Plaque. They are prone to cracks and dents, plus paint loss on raised areas.
The wall plaques depict Lucy, Linus, Charlie Brown and Snoopy as raised 3-D forms popping out from a pebbled surface surround in a wood-look frame. Completing the look is a name plaque sticker attached to the bottom of the frame. A copyright sticker is affixed to the back. Charlie Brown and Lucy are the closest to the original, with Linus and Snoopy being a little more updated. All designs of the wall plaques were available with either a beige or turquoise background.
MEXICAN SQUEAKY TOYS
The trickiest of Hungerford Reproductions to spot are the Mexican Squeaky Toys. These were probably made in the 1970’s by a company called “Vinilos Romay, S.A.” One original tag says they were made for Evenflo, which is still producing baby gear today. Based on the one Linus I bought for this article, the molding and plastic feel of the Mexican-made doll is the same.
As far as I’ve been able to find, Vinilos Romay only re-made Sally, 1958 Linus and Snoopy. Being marketed as baby toys, they probably focused on the more “baby friendly” characters. Some of them look like they could be original Hungerfords. Others have different coloring and painting schemes setting them apart from the originals. Snoopy can be found with a blue collar. Sally and Linus can have rosy cheeks and a white dot in the middle of their eye. Sally came dressed in either red, pink, blue or orange. Linus can have either a red shirt with yellow pants, or the other way around.
When determining if you have an original, licensed Hungerford, be sure to look at the bottom of the figure. If it has United Feature Syndicate copyright info, it’s an original. Without that, then it’s probably made in Mexico. Are the Mexican made versions licensed? Without the usual copyright info that’s used on all known licensed products, I lean towards not a legal reproduction. Anyone with more information on how these came into being, or more versions, please let me know.
All the Hungerford Peanuts characters are represented as painted, ceramic craft figurines, except Snoopy. There is a Snoopy, but he’s not a Hungerford Snoopy. Lego Japan (NOT the interlocking toy bricks company) made a Snoopy composition bank that seems to be the “original”. The Snoopy composition bank is also not licensed, as far as I have seen. Lego Japan did make licensed Peanuts bobbleheads, which are also coveted Peanuts collectibles.
Like all Peanuts collectibles, there’s plenty of Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus and Snoopy craft figures available on the market. Sally and Pigpen are a little harder to find. Schroeder with his piano are few and far between.
The best way to tell if you have a Peanuts ceramic craft rather than an original Hungerford doll is to let it fall to the floor. If it breaks, you’re not out anything. Just kidding! Someone took a lot of time painting that. Just because it’s not worth the same as a manufactured Hungerford doesn’t mean it’s not worth something to someone. For some collectors, it might be the best way to have a glimmer of the Peanuts Hungerfords in their collection without spending gobs of money. If you’re even luckier, you might find an unpainted figurine and you can do your own interpretation. When you love it, enjoy it! Just don’t expect Peanuts Hungerford prices when re-selling.
Need more evidence of the rogue Peanuts figurines? Check out this lawsuit against the Sunrise Mold Company.
A true testament to the lasting impression the Peanuts Hungerford dolls have made is their inevitable reproduction. Medicom, a Japanese toy company, made two sizes of the revived Hungerfords. The large size is over eight inches tall, and the smaller size is just under three inches tall. Medicom’s toys are made from a solid, hard plastic that won’t have any of the “squeeze” you’d get with the original. The paint work on the new figurines is detailed and precise. Looking at an original, you can see the fuzzy spray paint edges and imprecision everywhere. Telling the difference in person and online should be easy if you look carefully.
What to Collect
Peanuts craft figurines are varied in their quality and condition. If you want a set that matches in style and quality, then you pay whatever people are asking. However, if you just like what you see, pay whatever people are asking. Don’t like the asking price? Negotiate. A lot of Peanuts collector aren’t into them and you can use that to your advantage. Motivate the seller! It comes down to your feelings, what you can afford, and what you’d be giving up to buy them for your collection.
Collecting the Mexican Squeaky Toys could be an adventure in itself. How many were produced? Did they make more characters? There’s not a lot of info out there. In some ways, they’re a rarer find on the secondary market, at least here in the United States. If I found an interesting specimen, I’d pay around $15-20 for it. With the original packaging that might hold some clues to it’s origins, I’d be happy to add $10-15 to find out more. Personally, it’s not something I’d pursue since I tend to stick to licensed pieces.
Finally, the new reproductions. If it’s more affordable for your budget or you prefer the fresh look, spring for the new ones. They’re still expensive in the secondary market. Over time, they may find their way back into the market as new collectibles take their space. However, with vintage Peanuts being so popular in Japan, it will be a long time before that happens. Shop around and try local shops. Plus, be aware of what people are actually paying for them!
A lot of these photos were found on the internet and are being used here for educational purposes. Click the photos to enlarge and more info.
PEANUTS HUNGERFORD PACKAGING
PEANUTS HUNGERFORD Advertisements
SCHROEDER'S PIANO MYSTERY
ORIGINAL HUNGERFORD DOLLS VS. MEXICAN SQUEAKY TOYS
Sorry, I don’t have an original 1958 Linus for comparison.
SNOOPY LEGO BANK VS. SNOOPY CRAFT FIGURINE
PEANUTS CRAFT FIGURINES
I found about 90% of these in one days searching on eBay and Etsy. Plus, I didn’t even pull every photo I found if it was too repetitive or a really bad photo.
PEANUTS "CRAZY EYES" FIGURINES
Eyes are the windows to the soul. These artists tried to bring a little of that to these figurines. I always enjoy the varied artistic interpretations of how the Peanuts eyes should look.