Sunday, August 17, 2008

1948 "So Dear To My Heart" Owl

In 1948 Disney released a combination live action and animation feature called "So Dear to my Heart".

The character of the wise owl is little seen in merchnadise form,here he is in a cel from the film.
And here he is in ceramic form,beautifully hand-painted and sculpted,made in Australia by MCP.
He wasnt made in the USA and I have only ever seen one of these figurines in my life.Exceptionally rare!He's shown below for size comparison with the MCP Dumbo (that was also produced by Leonardi).The owl stands about 5 inches high and is in my opinion the best of the MCP sculpts.

Lady and the Tramp Plate Series

These two are part of a series of plates from the 1950's of designs celebrating Disney's "Lady and the Tramp".

They are quite common here in Australia and in appearance very similar to the plates featuring the famous Brownie Downing pictures.Not sure who produced them,or if they were made in Australia or Japan,but they were obviously popular enough back then to turn up in many different designs.Exceptionally cute !

Mickey and Minnie Mouse,Childless Couple

This wonderful planter/vase has Minnie pushing a pram.

Although Mickey and Minnie married,they didnt have children.Mickey,like Donald,had only nephews to take care of.

This one is most likely MCP,it looks like it, but may even be Japanese.

Baby Dumbo

This gorgeous baby Dumbo is exclusive to the MCP range and is about three inches tall,shown for size comparison below.

Donald Duck and ships wheel

This is around 7 inches tall and one of the nicest of the MCP range.It was not produced outisde of Australia,and highly sought after int he USA now.Bright colours and a great pose!

There are several Donald figurines in the range.

Pluto and Doghouse Planter

This Pluto and Doghouse,intended as a vase or planter,is one of the rarest of the MCP range.

The doghouse is new but the body of Pluto is based on this figurine of Bruno,the dog from "Cinderella",which is itself just a repaint of yet another Shaw produced Pluto.


Pluto comes in several forms.In this first picture,the middle pose is exclusive to MCP to the best of my knowledge.The other poses were from the Evan Shaw range and alos made by MCP.

This crouching Pluto is also Australian in origin as far as I know.The red paint of his collar is almost always miussing as it was applied cold after the glaze had cooled.


This is supposed to be the cat Figaro from Disney's "Pinocchio" of 1942.

Although it bears a strong resemblance to other figures of Figaro in the range(MCP did at least one other),the face looks nothing like him and this one had no identifying sticker.Jury is still out on this one for me.Nevertheless he recently sold at auction for $500!!

This is an ad from a 1940s Disney catalogue from the Leonardi company which I just found via Hakes,the auction house.

The Dumbo figurine in the bottom left was also made as part of the MCP range and is one of the most common to turn up,he must have been very popular.Who knows where these designs originated and ended up!

The small chipmunk at top left also turns up in Australia,but I assumed it was not a Disney character because the ones I have seen have had the most appalling paint jobs and sloppy molding.I think it is supposed to be a chipmunk from "Snow White".I've picked it up several times at markets and been unable to decide what it was,and promptly put it back!


This is Lulubelle,the girlfriend of Bongo.

Litttle seen in merchandise form,she was also not produced in the USA to my knowledge.It is easy to see how you may walk past this in a junk shop or market and think she's just another piece of mass-produced 50's kitsch(which is really what they are,kind of)

Bongo the Wonder Bear

"Fun and Fancy Free" was originally released in American cinemas on 27 September 1947 after the war.It featured a collection of short films connected by short Jiminy Cricket introductions to each cartoon.,one of which is "Bongo".

Bongo is a unicycle riding, tightrope walking, juggling circus bear who escapes from the circus into the forest where he meets a lovely lady bear,Lulubelle.The much later Hanna Barbera characters of Yogi Bear and his girllfriend Cindy owe a little to these designs,in my opinion.

This figurine wasnt produced in the USA to my knowledge,and stands roughly six inches tall.I have yet to be able to nab one,he is very quickly snapped up on ebay.Note the sticker is identical to the Evan Shaw sticker just re-worded.

Disneyana in Australia

The MCP Company,or Modern Ceramic Products,operated a factory in the working-class inner western suburb of Sydney called Marrickville from 1946 until 1957.

Marrickville,and the inner west,were then a hub of commercial activity and a destination for many post-war migrants who settled there on arrival in Australia.Many were employed in the factories,bringing European know-how to the ceramics industry there.Marrickville was home to MCP,the Diana Pottery company,and Studio Anna.Nearby in Belmore just a few train stops away Pates Pottery was located.

Nowadays these suburbs have undergone typical inner-city gentrification and you will not find a great deal of locally made products.All of the ceramics factories are long gone.

I do not know how MCP came to acquire a licence to produce Disney collectibles.What is clear is that they must have purchased molds that had already changed hands a couple of times in the USA.

The range of figurines made by Disney had already been produced by American Pottery,Metlox,and the Evan K.Shaw factories.The figurines were never backstamped as was the common practice of the day.Instead,they carried a simple silver sticker identifying the character name and the company name.

MCP however seem to have either made an unproduced series from existing molds, or made their own.There are quite a few of the range made exclusively for the Australian market.They were not exported,therefore highly sought after by collectors in the USA and elsewhere today.

The stickers washed off or fell off over the years which means alot of the time the figurines turn up unidentified.This can mean you may find them listed on ebay incorrectly and you may just nab a bargain.I have picked up several MCP figurines on ebay and in antique stores for less than $10 and later sold for hundreds more.

Happy Hunting!