Today I want to talk about the Dakin Dream Pets, some of my favorite vintage plushies of the 50s to 70s, and today (yes, today, I’ll get to that later).
Dakin is one of the longest operating stuffed animal companies, though it has been bought out repeatedly and rebranded over the years. My main focus today will be on the Dream Pets.
The Original Dream Pets
For retro and kitsch collectors, the most memorable of the Dakin line is their Dream Pet collection which represents the company’s first foray into stuffed animals. These small plush animals were filled with sawdust, and typical fo the 1950s stuffed animals, they did not have glass or plastic eyes, but usually felt eyes. Often, these colorful toys would have closed eyes giving them a dreaming appearance.
In addition to the sawdust filling, many of them would have velveteen cloth in addition to felt accents. Poodles were popular, but many different animals were mass-produced and made, such as elephants, mice, cats, dogs, ducks, turtles, fawns, and sheep. I am personally fond of the fawns and lambs myself.
Another derivation of the Dream Pets were the Leather Pets. Instead of the usual velveteen fabric, these unique stuffed toys were leather. My mother has a red leather poodle from the 60s or 70s in storage. In fact, this lovely toy was what made me a Dakin Dream Pets fan, even though these pets had stopped being made by the time I was born.
Dakin past the Dream Pets
As a company, however, Dakin did not end with the conclusion of the Dream Pets line. Dakin continued to be a major manufacturer of stuffed animals in the 80s and onward. They produced much of the branded items popular through the 80s and 90s such as the ubiquitous Garfield plushes and California Raisin dolls. Eventually, Dakin was purchased by another company and renamed Applause. Most of these stuffed animals under the Applause name are perfecty fine toys in their own right, but they do not (at least to me) stand out as interesting collectibles.
I certainly have these later Dakin plush toys (including a mallard that I am quite fond of), but none of them have the unique retro, kitchy aesthetic that the Dream Pets had.
The New Dream Pets
Thankfully, you no longer need to scour flea markets and vintage shops for classic Dream Pets.
In 2014, Paige Jansen-Nichols purchased the brand of Dream Pets after Big Lots failed to produce any more toys under the name with their acquisition in 2004. She has since launched her own website, DreamPets.com
I am still waiting for a recreation of the Dream Pets lamb pictured in the header image. Lucy Lamb is one of my favorites.