Disney has the power to make us smile, but if you dip back to the 1930s you’ll find a very different (and creepy) Mickey Mouse
If you grew up a “Disney kid” then you know what kind of emotion the films, parks and entire Walt Disney experience can elicit. It’s a warm feeling filled with nostalgia and memories of things you shared with family and friends through the years. We each have a favorite character or experience that holds onto you and becomes a part of you. For me, it’s the character Jiminy Cricket. That said, for others, it could be that first time Belle met the Beast or the moment Nemo (or Dory) was found or even something like the first time you walked through the entryway of the Magic Kingdom holding the hand of a parent; it’s all full of the warm fuzzies and making memories. Just read our recent Disney Pin Trading article and you’ll see some of that fervor encapsulated in just one small aspect of the broader Disney experience.
What you don’t get to experience very often is a sense of the creepy and the unexplainable in terms of Disney. Sure there’s that 2013 independent fantasy horror film “Escape From Tomorrow” which was shot in the parks without permission, and there are the occasional planned scary film moments, but we’re not counting those creations here. What we are counting are ten of the creepiest Mickey Mouse collectibles ever made.
What makes a collectible creepy? In this case, it happens to be the passage of time. With this article we find ourselves looking at some of the very earliest Disney items with a focus on Mickey Mouse in the 1930s and, through no fault of their own, early production quality and questionable character design have made many of these items startlingly odd.
Small Mickey Mouse In Race Car Bisque Figurine
This little beauty comes to us from Germany in the year 1932. In the early days of Mickey Mouse, his final visage was still evolving. Mickey was first introduced in 1928 and here, just four years later, we see a much more rodent-like depiction of the character. Not yet the fun-loving mouse that would form an unstoppable franchise (and club) in the decades to follow. Setting aside the look of Mickey, it’s really the fact that the racecar clearly reminds me more of a bullet than a car that puts this one in the spotlight and brings in the creepy. This bisque figurine might look more at home on the shelf of a gun enthusiast than a Disney devotee (unless of course, they are both).
Mickey Mouse Jointed Wooden Figure
Put yourself in the shoes of a toddler drifting off to sleep at night. Now place this jointed wooden figure from 1930 on your bedside table just leering over at you as you try to sleep. Is it the knowingly evil grin or the missing hands replaced with spindles that send you into therapy years later? Only the person eventually deconstructing your nightmares with you will know for sure. The one thing I know; this little toy would be pure nightmare fuel for me.
Adding an honorable mention for a similarly creepy collectible, I also invite you to check out this Mickey Mouse Wooden Figural Toy from Cameo Doll Co.
Mickey Mouse Figural Ashtray
Sure smoking has fallen out of favor in many areas of modern society, but back in 1932, there was no better place to dump your cigarette ashes than the belly of our favorite mouse. Sure it’s strange from a novelty perspective, but I think the depiction and layout of Mickey here make it downright creepy. His poor little tail is going to get so dirty!
Need a cigarette holder to go with your ashtray? Don’t miss this two-piece set cigarette holder and ashtray set that continues the theme started here. It was certainly a different time back then.
Walt Disney Post Toasties Publicity Photo
I know in the early days the character costumes were still in their infancy in 1933. They would one day become an art form all their own for the Walt Disney Company, but in this photo, there is an element of creepy that would send me running. I can’t tell if these are stuffed toys or small people in costumes. I do know that if I saw these versions of Mickey and Minnie walking my way in the theme parks late at night, I would turn and head for a safer direction. Maybe I’ve been reading a bit too much Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, but this kind of found photo feels like there’s more to the story that can be summed up simply in a single glance. I think the women in the back row really add to the overall unsettling effect for me.
Mickey Mouse Organ Grinder Wind-Up Toy
Coming in from Germany once again (this time a creation of the Distler company in 1930), this doesn’t look all that creepy at first glance but gets there after a bit of inspection. This mechanical toy contains a lot of Mickey representations and there’s clearly some deep inner conflict afoot. Sure the main Mickey with his warm smile looks much more friendly than other representations we’ve presented, but there are a couple things that gave me pause. First, the Minnie Mouse atop the grinder looks a bit more like Mickey than Minnie did in these early days. It immediately gave me the impression that Minnie must have called in sick and Mickey was doing his best to fill her shoes for the day. Also, don’t miss the small fight that has broken out on the side panel as one Mickey is about to arrow shoot the second Mickey. For extra creepiness, replacing the standard arrow with a pitchfork was a nice little extra touch of strange.
Mickey Mouse Countertop Standee Ad For Pepsodent
Let’s deconstruct this one by starting with the fact that Mickey Mouse is doing advertising for Pepsodent. Full stop right there as we have achieved an entry level of creepy. That said, there were a lot of interesting ad placements in that era so we’ll let it go. If your next roll in the fact that Mickey is clearly about to use the product yet he has no teeth nor does he use dentures, we achieve a second tier of slightly creepy. Let’s bring it home by honoring the fact that he’s barking out words in the ad that remind me more of the Manhattan Project than a dental cream and you have achieved full shivers with this one.
As an aside, I became very curious if irium was even still considered healthy as this ad ran back in 1937? Doing a bit of digging I learned that it’s a non-issue as, during a 1994 speech, then-FCC chairman Reed Hundt claimed that the irium mentioned in Pepsodent advertisements “didn’t exist”. Irium happens to be another word for sodium lauryl sulfate, an inexpensive ionic surfactant (you can look up that part on your own). Irium… just plain eerie if you ask me.
Mickey Mouse Figural Fountain Pen
The passage of time has certainly made this pen much more haunting due to the slightly faded features. Even considering that fact, should you find a near perfect version, Mickey’s distant stare and overly round features makes him feel a bit lumpy and bloated atop this 1935 Inkograph Co. collectible. I don’t know what I would be signing away but it feels like this pen was made more for a final offer for your soul than writing your next check for the mortgage.
Mickey, Minnie, And Nephew Wall Plaques
Here we’re walking away from creepy for just a moment and jumping headlong into misunderstood innuendo. Sure, if you read the description it is clear that this is Mickey, Minnie, and their Nephew but you have to remember that packaging for these wall plaques, first produced in 1936 by Kerk Guild Inc., is most likely a thing of the past. Without defining what we are seeing, this reads much more like Minnie is about to have a very special conversation with Mikey about something he’s not known regarding their relationship. Here it feels like “‘Lo Mickey” is about to be followed by “we need to talk”.
Mickey Mouse Circus Pull Toy
Do you see a circus pull toy here? I see two mice sitting on top of a mousetrap gleefully holding the hammer as the hidden spring prepares to exact its deadly vengeance. Maybe that’s just me, but at first glance, this struck me as very creepy. Also, what’s the story regarding the nose proportions here? You really had to go out of your way to make the nose that deformed on a character. At its very best, you are about to have two Mickeys screaming as some small child pulls them along and causes them to flip over and over and over again. Poor Mickey; whatever comes next is not going to be pleasant for him (and his odd clone behind him).
Mickey Mouse Plush Doll
When you think of plush toy, you think of snuggling up with your favorite character in the night and feeling reassured by their presence. Not the case if you have this creation from the Deans Rag Book Company. I think if I were a young child staring at this stuffed Mickey, I would be asking it to stay on its side of the bed while I cower on mine building a wall of pillows between us. Reassuring? No. Utterly creepy? Completely!
Honestly, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Mickey Mouse collectibles from the 1930s. I invite you to dig around the CompleteSet Disney archive and refine your search to the 1930s. In parting, here is just a sampling of some of the wonderful oddities you’ll soon uncover!