Vintage Fisher Play Family Little People Guide
Visit my vintage toy store! Click here- JackiesJoyFisherPriceToys
Part I - Little People Information -Below
Part II Set-By-Set Guide - click here Set-By-Set Guide
Part One- General Information
Ebay has so many sets and accessory listings, that it is hard to know exactly which pieces are part of what sets, and if the sets are really complete. In this guide, I hope to offer tips and hints about what to keep in mind when shopping for these wonderful little toys. I highly recommend a website named thisoldtoy.com. You can learn about the Little People history, including a complete listing of all sets and pieces sold, including lots of pictures for better identification. Ebay Guides are limited to 10 pictures, so I've separated one guide into three guides, in order to have more pictures for you.
IS IT REALLY FPLP?
There are many Little People sets, and also many similar toys and some imposters. The Little People were very successful, and other companies tried to compete. The most successful competitors were the Playskool Play Friends playsets.
Playskool Play Friends -see my guide- click here Playskool Toys
Other Look-A-Likes, and Knock-Offs
Above are a variety of look-a-likes and 'knock off's'. The little airplane, Donald and Minnie Mouse are made by Illco; the blue fellow in front has a metal ball undeneath-(thank you to Vicki, who writes that these are Tomy people from the Merry-Go sets); The two wood people with large round heads (middle left) are Mattel Putt Putt People; the plastic ones on the right, three different sizes, all Cheap-O's. I'd like to know more about the solid little people in the left rear. Let me know if you recognize them. Update-thank you to Tracy, who writes that these hard-plastic people in the left rear are from Ideal Playpals sets!
The people and accessories resemble Little People but are made of the cheaper plastic. They were sold in dime stores for a few cents, some even labeled 'little people'. I do not imagine Fisher Price was happy about that!
Fisher Price Little People did not come in Disney characters. ILLCO made some nice Disney characters that will fit in the Little People accessories. They were sold with cute little vehicles, some of which look very much like the Fisher Price Little Riders (see the airplane rider above). These Disney little people are collectible, too.
Mattel Putt-Putt Sets
These little people are all wood with big round heads. Several sets were offered; a construction set, school, and more. Little wooden vehicles were included that were adorable, sturdy, and often had a wind-up knob for zipping across the floor. Only a few sets were sold with people, which were all wood with big round heads, with painted hair, face, and body. They will fit in the Little People accessories, and are some of the hardest little fellows to come by.
Little People in good condition are worth more, often much more, than those with great wear or damage. Some sets are prone to chips and cracks, such as the heavy Sesame Street House, which often has pieces missing from the roof and handle area. Sets that are still with their box have usually been better protected, though the box is often in rough shape. Even with a rough box, sets in their original boxes are more valuable, usually by $20-40, depending on the set.
Frequently, auctioned items arrive dirty and poorly packaged; check your listing and the pictures carefully. Beware of auctions with just one picture or blurry pictures where you can't see the items well. Ask questions, especially is there is just a bare description. Most of the time, the seller is not a specialist in these toys. You may spend $50 for your prized little people house, only to have it arrive with the accessories tossing about loosely inside (knocking off little Suzie's pigtails...). If you buy a set in it's box, ask the shipper to use a separate, outer shipping box; I've had several sets arrive wrapped in brown paper as their only protection. The boxes often take at least a mild beating during shipment.
Buying your Little People from a specialty shop like ours will assure that your Little People items arrive safely, and will be clean and in good condition.
LITHOS & STICKERS
Litho is short for lithograph, these are the 'stickers' or labels that are attached to the playset or accessory with adhesive. Collectors like the lithos bright, not faded, torn, or marked on, and bubble-free. The lithos tend to bubble over the years, mostly due to heat from being stored in attics. Almost always, the lithos that bubble are the ones attached to plastic. The hospital and village sets seem to always have at least a little bubbling as the buildings are all plastic.
****Lithos can NOT take water - DO NOT WASH THEM! Try some mineral spirits, but for gosh sakes be very gentle and careful. If the litho is yucky, consider removing it completely. You'll often have an attractive, clean-looking toy afterwards. The castle floor litho (almost always worn) and the Garage's upper parking deck litho (often very bubbled) are good examples for this plan.
In the early days of the #952 House and #933 Garage Sets, a paper (thin cardboard) van was included that held the accessories. These vans ('Delivery Van' with the house, 'Service Van' with the garage) did not hold up well and were soon omitted from the sets. There are a few that still exist after all these years, and collectors crave them. The service van is more available, and sells for up to $100 or more, if it is in great shape. The Delivery Van is rarer and much more valuable; $500 perhaps.
BLUE IS GOOD
Some of the later sets (Little Mart, Main Street, Zoo) came with a Dad or accessory (telephone booth and picnic table set) that is bright blue. No other sets have this pretty color, except for the early and valuable Play Family Rooms, which was the only set to offer bright blue and red house accessories (beds, wing chairs, and coffee table).
What a popular color! Turquoise accessories (patio furniture in the #909 Rooms, hospital equipment and furniture in the Hospital Set, Nursery, Bath/Utility Room, and Little Riders set pieces, and Wood Little People in the Mini-Snowmobile and Airport Sets) are some of the most prized pieces.
The little car that came with the first House sets was a red one-seater 'garage-style' racer, and the earliest of these cars had a white c-hook on the back. This hook soon disappeared in the house sets, leaving the C-Hook Cars a popular item indeed. There is also a Blue C-Hook car, and both were sold with very early (& rare) Car & Boat Trailer set or Car & Camper set.
Cars sold in some later sets (Little Mart, Main Street, Car Wash, & Drive-In Movie, & others) came in bright yellow, red, and even pink (Beauty Salon only), and also have a small, rectangular hole underneath. These cars are able to be towed by the little Red & Orange tow truck, sold only in the Little Mart sets. Taxi Cabs also have this slot.
The earliest cars have Fisher Price Little People written on each wheel. Collectors look for this. These cars consist of the garage racers (little one-seater cars with white tops and color bottoms, or vice versa, the colors being red, green, blue, and yellow); green and white one- and two-seaters (side-by-side) with luggage racks (sold in the Garage, Village, and other sets), and green or green & white cars that are two-seater (front to back) and have fins (sold in the Ferry Boat, House, and other sets). Probably the most sought-after cars are the little racer style cars sold only in the Amusement Park set, which have the early plastic hubs but are also a bit shorter than the racers.
FIGURES - WOOD, PLASTIC, SHAPES & SIZES
The Little Blue Girl with Pigtails is a popular and cute little girl. She was the Goldilocks in the Three Bears House set, the daughter in the Rooms and early House sets, and the schoolgirl in the Play Family School sets. Almost all pigtail girls had wood bodies, the majority were blue, although you can find an occasional red or green pigtail girl. Some have plastic heads, some wood. ThisOldToy lists an all-plastic blue girl with pigtails, but I have never seen one. The vintage Little People began as all wood, then some had plastic heads, then they were all plastic. Many characters, such as the white doctor and nurse and Western Town people, were only plastic, never wood. Some of the rarer people are in plastic, such as the little schoolgirl with glasses and Sesame Street characters. Wood Lucky Dog is loved by everyone, and there are solid-bottom, open bottom, straight side, dot collar, thin collar, and other variations. Straight-sided people and dogs were sold in some of the earliest Little People sets; the Amusement Park, early Ferris Wheel, and Car w/Boat & Trailer and Car w/Camper (wood camper) sets. These people were all wood. The little black dog in the Amusement Park had floppy ears and doesn't look like the Lucky Dog we are familiar with. This same dog was sold in the Ferris Wheel, but was sometimes TALLER, so his ears wouldn't hit the seat. I have one of these, sans ears, and he is a favorite of mine! The long ears on these dogs are often missing. The Lacing Shoe set came with all-wood people in triangles and squares, they were yellow and red, with a special Mother Goose & Lucky. The most unusual may be the Three Bears Set, which had little bear people in the shape of a triangle, square, and teardrop.
CHARACTER LITTLE PEOPLE
Vintage Little People sets included only three that were 'licensed' sets. The Sesame Street House, Sesame Street Clubhouse, and McDonalds were the only sets that were themed with other name-brands. There were also two accessory packs, each consisting of 8 different Sesame Street characters, that were sold. One contained characters not sold with either the House or Clubhouse, making these characters some of the most highly sought after (and priciest) of the Little People. Herry Monster, Prairie Dawn, Sherlock Hemlock, and Snuffleupagus are hard to find in good condition, and sell for up to $40 each. Grover, The Count, & Roosevelt Franklin (all were also sold with the clubhouse) are next in line, price-wise.
Although there was never an actual grandmother Little People, there are three figures that can fit the bill. Lacing Shoe's teacher ('Old woman in the Shoe' is who she is meant to be) has white hair and half-glasses and serves the purpose well. In the early Lacing Shoe (with no wheels), this lady has a large round base and is too large to fit in the Little People seats. Another good grandmother figure is the blue or yellow lady with white hair, either in wood or plastic, sold in the farm sets as Ms. Farmer Brown. In the Main Street Sets, there is a green shopkeeper with white apron and white plastic hair. He makes a good Mrs. Hooper for the Sesame Street sets.
The farm sets were made over a couple of decades, and changes were made to the farm sets and the animals. In the earliest sets, the four-legged animals had hex-shaped screws in their bellies, inset inside a round depression in the plastic. The round depression remained for sometime after the screws were removed from production, later on the bellies were smooth. See the 3 white cows, lying on their backs in the photograph, for comparison
The dog in the Farm Sets is a four-legged, posable critter, as are the sheep, pig, cow and horse. With wear, often the cow and horses' heads no longer hold themselves up, or the legs are too loose to stand well. These aren't nearly as much fun to play with, so look for snug joints. The horse is often missing an ear, this doesn't affect play and usually isn't too noticeable. In the early sets, animals were in varied colors, and these colors are rare today. Most horses are brown; black ones were in some sets, and white ones in a very few sets.
Most cows are white; brown ones were in a few sets, and black ones are rare, too. The sheep are white; there are a few black ones out there. The pigs are black or pink, there are some rare brown ones, and even rare white ones. The dogs are brown, but there some rare black ones, rare white ones, plus the many variations of the brown (legs may be a different color, etc.).
SNOOPY OR LUCKY DOG?
On the Play Family House Sets, the dog dish on the garage's rear exterior litho, 'Snoopy' is written on the bowl. Snoopy is also on the Delivery Van's list of contents. There are other references to Snoopy, as on the Lacing Shoe, and in character packs. He is also referred to as FIDO on some accessory packs. Somehow he came to be known as Lucky, even Fisher Price started using the name Lucky to describe our prized puppy. I have at least 22 variations of Lucky, and I'm sure there are more.
The early captain's chairs (in the Rooms, early House, and other early sets) had a little dot on the back, whereas later ones have a little triangle on the back. Collectors like the dots.
CLEANING & PRESERVING YOUR TOYS
Little Plastic People and accessories wash well in warm soapy water, many will do well in the dishwasher, too. Wood people can be damaged by water, so I don't soak them. Usually a damp cloth (with a mite of soap) is about all you can do, although a wood cleaner may help.
Plastic accessories also wash well in warm sudsy water. Any piece that has a litho (sticker) should not be washed like this--Lithos can't take water! I use a lighly soaped, damp cloth to clean everything but the litho.
Lithos often can not be cleaned without damaging them. I've tried everything, and ruined several lithos in the process. Mineral Oil sometimes will help.
Chalkboards can be cleaned with lemon oil. Be patient, it make take a few cleanings.
Crayon marks on a plastic toy can often be removed with mineral oil.
To keep your Little People safe, keep them in an environmentally controlled atmosphere. Extreme heat (attic), and moisture (basement, garage) are damaging to these little toys, causing wrinkles and bubbles in the lithos.
Things I've Learned This Year
The white bathroom sink and toilet that came in the Camper set are smaller than the ones sold in the #909 Rooms. The toilet's 'tank' is thicker, wider from front to back. The smaller set will fit into the molded spaces in the rear of the camper.
The wood blue lady sold in the Lacing Shoes (with wheels) had a normal little people base; the Lacing Shoe without wheels has a wide-base, and doesn't fit into normal little people 'seats'.
The Play Family School had a larger masonite base in the first years of production.
Play Family Farm roosters and chickens were made without a seam in the first years of production.
Hope this helps!! For information on individual sets, see part II, just click where is says Set-By-Set. You can email me, too, for help or if you have information to share!
See Part II our Set-by-Set Guide (House, Airport, Farm, School & More) Set-By-Set
Visit our vintage toy store! JackiesJoyFisherPriceToys