1980’s Wind in the Willows plush by Fiddler’s Elbow
In 1981, Fiddler’s Elbow collaborated with Ariel Books to produce bean bag toys based on the classic children’s story The Wind in the Willows illustrated by Michael Hague. The toys were featured on the cover of the American Express Christmas catalog.
These are bean filled plush dolls all about 7” in height. They are meant to look like the illustrated versions depicted by Michael Hague.
Mr. Badger: He is a kind but lonely figure who simply hates society and crowds. He has a big black and white head and is strong. Mr. Badger is seen as the wise one who always advises and guides the other characters. He is friendly and hospitable as he takes care of those who come to house. He is the quiet, steady friend who prefers his own company but will also come and help if you need him. He is a good planner as he plans the attack to get back the Toad Hall from the Wild Wooders.
Mole: The Mole is a mild mannered, home loving animal. He is shy, hardworking and enjoys sunshine and loves the river. He is keen to swim and wants to learn how to row a boat. The rat teaches it a few things of the river. The Mole is happy and eager and readily learns how to swim and row a boat
Ratty: He is hardworking, relaxed, kind and friendly. He loves the river and teaches the Mole many things about the riverside. He teaches the Mole how to swim and row. Ratty enjoys the simple pleasures of food and gossip. He has a brown little face with whiskers, bright eyes, small ears and thick shiny hair. The Rat knows a lot about the river and many stories of life on the river which shows how knowledgeable he is. He even plans a picnic with the Mole and warns him about the Wild wood. The rat likes to sing songs and knows how to row a boat.
Rabbit and Rodent: Described as goof or a mixed lot.
Mr. Toad: He is the richest character and the owner of Toad Hall. Although he is good natured, he is impatient and likes adventure. He is always trying something new and gets bored quickly. He never learns from his mistakes. He is crazy about cars and wants to drive forever even though he does not want to take lessons. He is a reckless driver and has been twice to the hospital and at least three to four times has been arrested for dangerous driving. His interest develops from houseboats to caravans to motorcars. He drives like a madman, is rude to the police and is caught for stealing. He escapes from prison dressed as a washerwoman. His friends finally reform him and win back Toad Hall from the Wild Wooders. The toad is good hearted but thick headed. He is boastful, strong and fearless but once he changes his ways, he becomes more humble, more sensible, thriftier (spends less money) and soon forgets about cars.
The Wind in the Willows is the original version, written by Kenneth Grahame, published in 1908.
In 1983 Dixon Scott published A Fresh Wind in the Willows, which not only anticipated Horwood’s sequels (see below) by several years but also includes some of the same incidents, including a climax in which Toad steals a Bleriot monoplane.
William Horwood created several sequels to The Wind in the Willows: The Willows in Winter, Toad Triumphant, The Willows and Beyond, and The Willows at Christmas.
Jan Needle’s Wild Wood was published in 1981 with illustrations by William Rushton (ISBN 0-233-97346-X). It is a re-telling of the story of The Wind in the Willows from the point of view of the working-class inhabitants of the Wild Wood. For them, money is short and employment hard to find. They have a very different perspective on the wealthy, easy, careless lifestyle of Toad and his friends.
To view the Wind in the Willows plush available for sale click here:
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