Saturday, November 14, 2015

1950s Walt Disney's Television Playhouse by Marx

In 1953, Louis Marx & Company created the Walt Disney's Television Playhouse--a collection of 38 unpainted vinyl figures (later soft plastic). Reportedly at 60mm scale, the taller figures stood about 2.125" high. The set included characters from Snow White, Pinocchio, Dumbo, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, as well as some of the Mickey and Donald crowd (the nephews being duplicates of themselves). Colors ranged from shades of blue or green to white, cream, or pink.

The first set to be issued was No. 4353, but throughout the 1950s, Marx would release the figures in several different packaging variations and combinations, plus about 13 additional characters were sold separately (Bambi, Goofy, Lady and the Tramp, etc.).

Playset No.4349...

Complete set images via Hake's.

Snow White closeups.

The set also came with a variety of hard plastic accessories.

And a three-piece metal litho stage and background. Measures about 18" wide x 12" tall and 6.5" deep.

Additional stage pics via annteekeys.

Collector Eric Johns provides us with the following: Playset Magazine included an article on the Disney Television Playhouse in its March/April 2012 issue.  The first paragraph reads as follows:
With an actual air date still far-off, news that legendary animator Walt Disney was going to begin a television show called Walt Disney Presents came to Marx through the licensor.  Not premiering on ABC television until late 1954, it promised a slate of many of Disney’s classic films and beloved characters.  Presented with a spectacular opportunity to showcase such a wide range to a brand new audience of children, Marx developed the No. 4352 Walt Disney Television Playhouse.  It was released in late 1953 in one of the most colorful and beautiful boxes Marx ever devised, a full color extravaganza promising a full range of figures and stories a kid will get to reenact.

In 1961, the same TV Playhouse figure molds would morph into the popular, yet smaller Disneykins.

Special thanks to Eric Johns of Marx Lane for supplying valuable information and for the use of his closeup images of the Snow White figures.


  1. Y'know, this is the first piece of specifically Disneyland TV-show related merchandise I've seen. The Disneyland show hadn't started yet, but 1953 would put it after One Hour In Wonderland and just before Disneyland debuted. Did Disney know what was coming and started marketing it, or did Marx think "Disney is big, and TV is this newfangled thing that's catching on..."? Did Marx do other "Television Playsets"?

    1. Hi Cory, This was the only Disney "television" figure set produced by Marx, but the characters and accessories were released in numerous different forms and packagings throughout the '50s. I don't know for sure, but my guess would be that after the One Hour in Wonderland program, someone got the idea for creating a figure set with the words "Walt Disney" and Television" in it. And of course, after the first Disneyland show had aired, it would only have helped to increase sales of the "playhouse" figures. In the 60s, Marx issued the Disneykin figures which had some special "TV Scenes" packaging but with no real reference to the Disney TV show. As a side note, Marx did produce a Disneyland Playset in 1961 which included figures, buildings, and ride accessories to represent the theme park.

    2. Hey Cory, Just heard from collector Eric Johns, and he has confirmed that Marx did indeed know about the Walt Disney television show ahead of time, and thus created and released the TV Playset well before the first episode would air.

    3. Interesting! Thanks for digging that up!