Today, Barbra shared a photo on instagram which featured some of her collection of pigs. Front and center were three antique Schuco clockwork pigs.
This Walt Disney inspired Three Little Pigs set was produced by Schuco in Germany ca 1934. These were made in several variations, some with different outfits and hat colors. Three Little Pigs (1933) won the 1934 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film of 1933. The cartoon cost $22,000 to make and grossed $250,000. Shortly after, Schuco struck a licensing deal with Disney which gave them sole rights to design toys in likeness of the film’s characters. These pig toys were sold to market with the success of the film.
Barbra’s set features a wind up pig drummer (aka practical pig), pig fiddler and pig flute player. In the movie practical pig plays piano, but they turned him into a drummer toy for actual practical reasons. Each figurine is about 4.5 inches high and are made from stretched felt on a tin base. The Schuco patent is engraved into one foot of each figurine and “made in Germany” on the other.
These wind up piggies each come with a detachable silver key that is used to wind them up and set them into motion playing their instrument.
The pig’s eyes are made from glass metal beads and there is black thread nose detailing. Other facial features are hand painted. It is rare to find a set in as good of condition as Barbra’s. This set is valued around $2,000-2,500.
The Schuco toy company was founded in 1912 in Germany by Heinrich Muller and Heinrich Schreyer. It was originally named Spielzeugfirma Schreyer & Co before changing to Schuco in 1921. The company began by making animal clockwork, wind-up, tin based toys. The Pick-Pick bird was the most famous of these and over 20 million were produced through 1960.
Many other adorable animal toys were sold including cats, bunnies, monkeys, dogs, pandas and more. These were generally covered in mohair.
Teddy bears were added in the 1920’s which included a famous yes/no bear that moved its head and tail up and down when wound. One non-moving version of a bear even held a perfume bottle inside.
In 1935 the first Schuco motor car was created. Toy motor vehicles quickly grew to be their main offering. Toy production halted during World War II, but Schuco began making tin toys again in the late 1940’s.
By the 1950’s there was a shift to making cars in plastic and die-cast metal. The Piccolo car series was introduced in 1958 and are highly collectible today. Schuco went bankrupt in 1976 and was eventually acquired by Gama Toys in the 1980’s, and then by many other companies thereafter. Their classic toy cars are now sold under the name Dickie Toys, owned by the Simba-Dickie Group GmbH.