Steiff’s Kiki Kueken, or Kiki Chick, is 12 centimeters tall, standing, and head-jointed. Her body, arms and legs are made from hard-molded rubber.
Every enthusiast has extra-special items in their collections—a certain piece that just take a Gold Medal for its rarity, design or simply the story behind the piece. Here is one of those treasures from my hug of more than 700 vintage Steiff collectibles.
No need to be a “Chicken Little” when it comes to this somewhat strange but entirely appealing Steiff Chicken Doll.
What we have here Steiff’s Kiki Kueken or Kiki Chick. Kiki is 12 centimeters, standing, and head-jointed. Her body, arms and legs are made from hard-molded rubber. Her head is softly stuffed and made from yellow mohair. Her face is detailed with little black eyes, a yellow plastic beak, an orange comb and a touch of airbrushed highlights. Her wings are made of yellow mohair that has been “fitted” over her rubber arm skeleton.
Kiki is one well-dressed little chick. She dons a red and white striped cotton dress that is cinched at her waist with a little blue grosgrain bow. The dress has a sweet white-felt scalloped collar. Her bloomers go to her knees and are made from matching white felt. Her shoes are molded as part of her legs and are painted brown and white. Her soles are made from brown felt.
Her History and Design Legacy:
Steiff has been playfully combining the best of its dolls and animals in their product line since the turn of last century. These animal dolls started out as regular line items dressed in special outfits so that they would look like clowns, policemen, brides and grooms, and other “ordinary” people. In the late 1920s, the company started designing and producing a line of “pupp-animals” or doll animals, that were more “human” from the neck down (i.e., they were standing and had doll-like limb proportions), but had the head of a popular Steiff character of the time. These were big in the catalog through the early 1960s; over that time frame, popular designs included cats, dogs, rabbits and even elephants. Some even appeared in boy-girl matched sets. These soft-bodied animals ranged in size from around 14 cm. through a whopping 60 cm.
Kiki’s face is detailed with little black eyes, a yellow plastic beak, an orange comb and a touch of airbrushed highlights.
In addition these larger mohair and cloth pupp-animals, Steiff also introduced a whole new series of “pocket sized” animal dolls to the world in the mid-1950s. These were charmingly attired, 12-cm. characters with “humanized” rubber bodies and soft, jointed heads. If they had hands, the hands were detailed with digits and a thumb. The series launched in 1954 with rabbits and cats. The rabbits were Bib and Bibbie, a boy-girl pair of bunnies dressed in matching country style outfits; each wore a tiny backpack-style basket. The cats were Lix and Lixie, his and her kittens wearing “puss-in-boots style” attire. Then, in 1955, Steiff introduced Teddyli (which was based on the wildly popular “Teddy baby” design), Cocoli (based on the adorable Coco the green eyed baboon design), Quaggi the duck wearing a little sailor suit, and today’s heroine, Kiki Chick. The 12-cm. animal dolls appeared in the line only through 1959.
Today, few of these 12-cm. animal dolls survive in good or better condition. The smaller pupp-animals made great pocket sized school companions, so it was easy to misplace them. Additionally, their bodies were made out of rubber, which dries out, cracks and eventually falls apart over time. It is not terribly unusual now to find one of these dolls, minus a limb or two. Unfortunately, it is not realistically possible to repair these body parts once they have become brittle or crack.
Why She’s So Special to Me:
I have always loved Steiff’s pup-animals, especially for their darling personalities and fantastic attire. Kiki had been on my wish list for quite some time but I had never been able to find one in good condition at a reasonable price point.
A few months ago, I was considering bidding on a large lot of vintage Steiff treasures from the 1950s and 1960s. The items consisted of a great mix of dogs, cats, jungle and farm friends—some which I would keep for my collection and others I would rehome with other collectors. As I was studying the long list of items . . . there she was! I couldn’t believe my eyes, or that I could have missed her after looking at the list several times.
I checked out her photo and determined that she was in fine shape, given her age and composition. That was the deciding point for me on bidding. I threw my bid into the ring and logged off the computer until the auction closed. With great nervousness, I checked the results and . . . I won the lot and my beloved Kiki, as well. Now she sits happily on a shelf in my study, along with her “cousins” Bib and Bibbie, Cocoli and Teddyli.
Steiff’s pupp-animals’ bodies were made out of rubber, which dries out, cracks and eventually falls apart over time. Luckily, my Kiki’s legs are holding up pretty well because it is not realistically possible to repair these body parts once they have become brittle or crack.
As mentioned above, it is not terribly unusual to find a 12-cm. Steiff pupp-animal, but it is quite challenging to find one in very good to excellent shape. Kiki has the SLIGHT advantage that her “arms” are covered in mohair so her rubber skeleton is far less exposed to the elements and the risks of drying and cracking. Over the past few years, the rabbit and bear versions of these little dolls have been a bit more common on the secondary market. Depending on condition, they generally have sold in the $100- to $350-range each.
As always, something is worth what someone will pay for it, and Steiff rarities will always generate interest and will, without a doubt, appreciate over time. It is my best guestimate that in the United States today, Kiki, in very good to excellent condition and with at least one form of ID, values in the $175 to $225 range.
Rebekah Kaufman is a Worthologist who specializes in vintage Steiff and other European plush collectibles.
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