Dream Pets unleashed on collectors once again

Stuffed animals return after 20 years due to popularity among many collectors

Family Matters

February 15, 2004|By Jennifer Lehman | Jennifer Lehman,Sun Staff

Lady Jane the ladybug, Hawaiian Hound and Pancho the donkey are about to make a comeback. They are Dream Pets, three in a series of stuffed animals made by R. Dakin & Co. from 1957 to 1984, when the company stopped producing them. The pets return to stores in March.

Roger Dakin developed the pets in 1957, after he became intrigued by the packing method Japanese factory workers used to ship his toy trains. Workers used scraps of velveteen, packed with sawdust, to create various stuffed animals. They dubbed their creation Dream Pets because they could dream whatever pet they fantasized.

Dakin decided Dream Pets would not only make a collectible item, but also be profitable.

He was right.

By the late 1970s, R. Dakin & Co. created more than 2,000 variations of Dream Pets. Production ended in 1984, and after that the critters were available only in antique stores and, later, on Web sites such as eBay.

Robert Solomon, chairman and CEO for R. Dakin & Co., decided to bring back Dream Pets after he learned of the collectors market for them.

"If you meet a Dream Pet you'll know why they're popular," he says. "They're quirky, funny, lovable and collectible."

No longer stuffed with sawdust, Dream Pets still hold their firm feel and velvet soft texture.

Specialty stores such as Hallmark and Cracker Barrel Old Country Store will be selling Dream Pets.

"Dream Pets are going to appeal to folks who grew up playing with them," says Jim Taylor, a Cracker Barrel spokesman. "A number of parents will walk by and say, 'Oh my gosh, I had that when I was a child.'"

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