These antique windup toys were based on Disney’s 1933 Silly Symphony animated short film “Three Little Pigs”.*
Originally released in the thick of the Great Depression, it is widely believed that this cartoon actually had a deeper message for viewers suffering the effects of widespread economic collapse. The Big Bad Wolf represented the hardships that threatened to to destroy the lives people had built for themselves, often with devastating consequences (as in the case of Fiddler Pig and Fifer Pig). This short film presents a message of hope, however, for persevering people. Practical Pig is able to redeem Fiddler and Fifer with hard work and determination, and together they triumph over adversity. This animated short resonated with audiences and was hugely successful, begetting sequel films and comic strips in the subsequent years.
Soon, Three Little Pigs imagery appeared on a number of children’s playthings of the era, like the tin-litho beach pails pictured below. In 1934, German toy company Schuco struck a licensing deal with Disney, which allowed them to design toys in the likeness of the characters in the film. A limited quantity of these patented piggies are currently available in our vintage toy shop.
*A revised version of the film was released post-WWII in 1948, in which the Jewish peddler stereotype was removed.