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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Blogging from Cologne: Steiff! Steiff! Steiff!
Posted by Jill | 8:14 AM
It's so humid in Cologne right now you could just melt. If you're like me, and you don't do well in heat or humidity, and you packed for mid-to-high 70's, you're not a very happy camper right about now. Well, I am, because I'm back in my room getting ready to do actual work after spending the morning at the Römish-Germanisches museum, where I took a ton of photos and videos that I probably won't get to post till I get home next Friday.

But yesterday was shopping and a visit to the Dom. First up, my grip to the Galeria Kaufhof, where my colleague assured me I could find Steiff toys.


When you get off the escalator on the floor where the sports equipment, kids' clothes, and toys are, you are greeted by this guy:

Now, this child you see in the video was enthralled, but I know that when I was a small child, this thing would have scared the living daylights out of me. I also thought it was strange that when he's finished, he squats down on the lovely Steiff golden retriever under him. But whatever. Let's take a tour of the department, shall we? (Mom, you'd better sit down for this.)

If you're looking for bargains, you won't find them here. There seem to be 2 tiers of Steiff animals now; the original, hard-bodied toys with the stiff fur, which are still preposterously expensive, and the softer, newer-style toys that are more affordable. I mean, I am just not paying 80 € for a 4" bear. I'm just not. But of course I am the person who once bought a bag of about six Steiff animals for 25 bucks from an animal shelter yard sale the minute the person who brought them in started pulling them out. But you can hear me muttering in the second video that the bears in suitcases can be had for $25 from the Signals catalog, and they were the equivalent of $40 here.

I had read that in Germany they don't use plastic shopping bags, so I brought my canvas Trader Joe's tote with me. Well, if you go into a Steiff department with an empty tote bag, they are going to keep an eye on you. So there I was, trying to explain to a salesperson who spoke no English that if they can "schiff auf US, ich [take] das grosse animal fur meine mutti geburtstag, Sie ist zwei und ochtzig." So we managed to communicate, and when she saw I was a serious buyer, the smile came out and I was directed to a service desk, where I had to explain that "St." in the US suffices, that you need not write "Strasse", and in fact no one will know what it means. So it remains to be seen whether my purchase will ever get to the U.S., but with a big laptop bag and carry-on limits, there is no way I would have been able to bring my purchase on the plane.

But I was also captivated by this little guy, who wasn't a Steiff, but in true internet geek fashion, is called -- what else -- a Roffle:

His name is Rollo the Laughing Dog, and you can get your very own here.

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Blogger Wimsey said...
I grew up with Steiff stuffed animals back when they weren't a small fortune (Grandma would bring them back from her trips to Europe). I still love them and have them. You know I always figured since they are virtually indestructible they're worth every penny. Man do I envy you that visit!