~ A COLLECTION OF DOUGLAS CURIOSITIES ASSEMBLED TO EDIFY AND ENTERTAIN ~ A Treatise on the Variations, Rereleases, & the Recycling of Names of Douglas Plush Toys
In my many years of collecting the Douglas plush animals, I have observed and have been amused by a number of little things. While thinking on these bits of trivia over the past few weeks, I thought that I might put together a journal so as to collect and share them all with my fellow Douglas devotees. Also, you get a silly Victorian inspired title and subtitle to this journal because I am a nerd.
~ The Variations
I am sure that those of you who have spent any amount of time looking over and collecting Douglas plush toys have noticed that, depending on when in the production run a specific plush was made, a plush of a certain item number can look drastically different from another plush that shares the same item number. Features such as wiring in the ears, lip/flew detail, airbrushing, fur texture, and stitching on the paws are all things that can indicate variations within a release.
The longer the production run of a plush, the more variations of that plush there will be. Also, the earlier a plush comes in its production run, the better-made it is and the more desirable.
This, however, is not always
the case. Sometimes different variations of a certain plush are so drastic and novel that more than just the early releases of these plushes are sought after.
An example that comes to mind are the Nadia the 23" Husky, Sasha the 16" Husky, and Joli 12" Husky plushes with their very striking light and dark furred variations.
The 16" Brute the Great Dane with his three versions of facial airbrushing is another great example. Even though their differences in facial details are drastic, they are virtually all the same plush. Here are the three different versions.
To exemplify fur color/texture variations on a plush, look over this recent Sheba the 16" Collie. Also note that the ears are stitched down:
And here is a very early release of Sheba. This version has dark fur on the top of the head and the ears are held upright by means of internal wiring:
A few other notable examples:
Sinclair the 16" Australian Shepherd - The older version had stitching on the paws to create toe detail; the newer versions have no stitching.
Chase the 16" Border Collie - The earlier version had wiring in the ears so that they could be shaped and posed; the newer versions do not have this wiring.
Juliet the 16" Bichon Frise - The first version had crimped, highly textured breed-appropriate fur; the later version had smooth fur.
Smoke the 18" Wolf - The original version had very dark airbrushing on the forehead; the newer version has very pale airbrushing on the forehead.
These are just a sampling of the differences a collector can find amidst all the different Douglas plushes and their various releases.
~ The Rereleases
I have heard of numerous collectors requesting that Douglas bring back certain popular plushes that are no longer available. I admit, I was quite skeptical about this for a very long time, thinking that Douglas does not look back to revive old designs but merely moves forward and creates new ones. However, I have seen a few things over the years that make me now think otherwise.
The first of these is Sherman the giant 34" Golden Retriever Plush. He was a Fall/Holiday release back in 2004 and is still currently part of the line. The newer releases I have seen of him have a less upright head so that their face is resting on their forepaws, but it is still Sherman. Here is mine:
Imagine my surprise whilst browsing through long-retired Douglas plushes on old websites that no longer exist (thank you, Wayback Machine!) when I came across the big Byron! For a long time, I have known about a small, floppy Golden Retriever-type dog named Byron that was part of Douglas's line back in the late 1990s - early 2000s. What I hadn't known, was that Douglas also made a 34" size of that plush. Take a look at Byron:
And his head is resting on his forelegs, much like the recent versions of the Sherman release. How interesting.
Another plush that nearly qualifies as a rerelease is the Calico cat whose first incarnation was known as Patches. Patches is a good sized Douglas plush measuring in at 26", was available in the mid to late 1990s, and has yellow green eyes.
In 2005 Douglas came out with two 19" cats, one a Ragdoll named Farley and the other a Calico named Puzzle that looks remarkably similar to Patches.
Granted, the newer cat is smaller then the old one, the body style is a little different, and the eyes are a different color, but look at how much the same that spot pattern is!
~ Sinclair Goes on Holiday
Though the Byron/Sherman and Patches/Puzzle examples might not be rereleases of the kind we would like them to be (the exact plush we want, exactly how it was made before), there is one rerelease that I know of that does fit that description, and, of all the dogs it could have been, it was Sinclair the 16" Australian Shepherd that took this little hiatus. Or, as I like to call it, "Sinclair Goes on Holiday." Because that's really all it was.
In 2003 Douglas introduced Sinclair to their 16" line up of floppy pups. This plush had a good 6 year run and was retired in 2008. In the immediate following year, in 2009, Driver the Australian Shepherd appeared. This plush only stuck around for 2 years, and in the 2011 Douglas catalog, who should reappear but Sinclair, and touted as a new release, at that!
This image was taken directly from the 2011 catalog:
So there you have it, a right and proper Douglas rerelease. Granted, the plush only took a 2 year hiatus, but I count it as a rerelease nonetheless.
~ The Recycling of Names
I realize that we live in a time when we need to start thinking more about the planet and how our actions affect it. People and organizations everywhere are pushing the whole Go Green/Recycle mentality, and, while I wholeheartedly support that, I have a much dimmer opinion of Douglas's constant recycling of names for their plushes. As a collector, this can get confusing and very frustrating.
Consider these examples:
Curly the 12" Fox Terrier & Curly the 16" Cocker Spaniel
Reeces the 20" Beagle and Reeces the 16" Beagle
Kaiser the 24" Weimaraner and Kaiser the 16" Black and White Pointer
Cassie the 16" Fox Terrier and Cassie the 16" Weimaraner
Sheba the 8" German Shepherd & Sheba the 16" Collie
Apollo the 21" Doberman & Apollo the 16" Doberman
And it is not a habit of theirs that exists only in the past. Douglas's rampant recycling of names is alive and well as is evidenced by Major the 18" German Shepherd, Major the reclining 20" Great Dane, and, coming out later this year, the large reclining German Shepherd, who has also been given the ubiquitous Douglas name Major.
Does Douglas not realize how many excellent names there are out there? Yes, Major, Apollo, etc are wonderful names and very fitting for the animals they were assigned to, but, when Douglas keeps reusing names in this way, it shows a severe lack of creativity on their part and denies many other worthwhile names their time in the spotlight. Please try a little harder when it comes time to name your plushes, Douglas. It's not that difficult.
~ Promotional Plushes
Sometimes when Douglas creates a promotional plush for a company, all they do is grab a pre-existing plush in their line, add a bandana or hat to it that is emblazoned with said company's name, and that's it. Very simple, not that exciting.
Then there are the plushes that Douglas creates specifically for the companies that order them. These are the exciting ones, the ones that collectors lust after and dream about. Happily, Douglas has delivered one of these plushes to us very recently.
It is the portrait plush of Danica Patrick's miniature red Husky, Dallas.
Another recent and still currently available promo plush is Jake the 16" Flat-Coated Retriever that Douglas made as a portrait of The Salty Dog Cafe's mascot dog. For the Douglas collectors who appreciate the representations of rarer breeds, this plush is a must.
The older promotional plushes can be very difficult to find. One of these is the large 32" Border Collie made especially for SmartPractice. I have been unable to confirm if this plush was created solely as a promo for SmartPractice or if at one point it was a part of Douglas's general line of plushes.
Interestingly, this Border Collie was not the only instance of Douglas creating an awesome and unusual plush for the SmartPractice company. They also made a super large Australian Shepherd plush, which looks like the 16" Sinclair but is the size of the 30" Barker Husky, A truly exceptional plush.
~ Production Samples
To close, I would like to share with you a special plush that is most unusual and a definite gem of my collection. It is my Curly the 16" Cocker Spaniel that has been confirmed by Douglas to be a one of a kind production sample for the Curly release.
I purchased this plush from eBay because I had been looking for a Curly for my collection. While looking over the photos of this one, I noticed that the hang tag was blank where the barcode was supposed to be. With this info, I knew this plush was definitely something unusual, so I went ahead and made the purchase.
When my Curly arrived in the mail, I noticed that, in addition to the lack of barcode on the hang tag, this Curly also lacked the small white seam tags from behind the red bordered tag and the nose was made of an unusual thin, vinyl-like material with a very matte finish. Assuming I had a prototype of some sort, I emailed some photos to Douglas in hopes that they could officially inform me of what I had.
They replied saying that it was a production sample. Production samples are created at the overseas factories and sent to the Douglas headquarters here in the US for those who are in charge to look over and approve before giving the go-ahead to begin the production run. Not every Douglas plush has a production sample made for it, but when they are made, only one
is created. They are not intended for sale to the public (hence the lack of barcode), but they are sometimes given to company employees as gifts.
The seller on eBay that I purchased this Curly from said she had received the plush from her sister who had received it from a friend who worked for Douglas. At the end of this chain of recipients, I am the one that ultimately ended up with this Curly and am honored to have such a plush in my collection and to understand its significance.
So that concludes my long-winded and hopefully interesting journal on a few different topics concerning Douglas plush toys. If you have any Douglas oddities of your own to share or have any questions, I would love to hear them. Otherwise, happy collecting!