Reconstructing Play School online

Reconstructing Play School online

Stuffed toy (“Humpty”)

Over the past few weeks a couple of us here have been reliving our childhoods looking at the Play School toys in our collection and clips from the shows on NZ On Screen. We’re not curators, we’re just in the web team and the Picture Library so it still delights us when we find things like the Play School toys in our collection. We have Big Ted, Humpty, Manu and Jemima.
Te Papa’s Collection
NZ On Screen

Little Teds armour
Doll’s clothes, armour

We also have some of the costumes the toys wore, including a set of armour. Amazingly, in the first clip on NZ On Screen where the presenters build a castle, the Teds are wearing armour. A great coincidence or what?

Here’s the armour, carefully preserved for posterity. I love the feather – Big Ted’s feather was turquoise so I surmise the pink helmet was designed for Little Ted. In Little Ted fashion, he isn’t wearing it.

But unfortunately we don’t have Little Ted so we can’t verify it with him. Rumour has it that he was blown up in an unfortunate accident on What Now? Is this true? Anyone know?

And does anyone else out there have more Play School stuff we can add to our informal online un-collection?

It is amazing what is coming out of of the archives and cool when we can link them together to tell more complete stories.

Perhaps Play School is another candidate for a Digital New Zealand Project!


  1. Thanks for sharing this wonderful information. Your school is giving excellent facilities to the children. Little pearls play school, Delhi is devotedly engaged in early childhood development in the most holistic way.

  2. I have little ted, not the real one without the head but ive had him since I was born. 37 years old now! my sister used to have big ted. little ted makes a squeek when you squeeze his tummy and big ted, groans when you rock him forward.

  3. Thanks Judy,

    Have got one of my folks looking in to it!

  4. Hi Lucy

    Can you make it easy to send links to this blog by email or to facebook etc? I can send it by email by right click, send link. But there are some clever ways of sharing blogs with other sites that would make this blog look great. And it would be easy for me to send it to the Play School fans in my family
    Cheers, Judy

  5. Poor old Little Ted – i had heard a rumour about the explosion – i wonder if his head actually exploded or whether if just came off… in which case is there a dismembered Little Ted head out there? I’m crossing my fingers… Little Ted did always have a naughty cool about him.

  6. Apparently a few years ago while filming an episode of Serial Stuff on What Now, they needed to a teddy bear to blow up. Lil Ted was mistakenly used.

  7. A photo would be great – I could post it on the blog for you. Of course you would need to ask permission but we’d love to see both Little Ted and the prototype Humpty.

    On the Jemima note there is a long story about that one. I have been talking with Kirstie Ross, a history curator here and will try to get a blog post out on it in the next day or so.

  8. They have a toy display in one section of the Settlers Museum and the Playschool toys are in a case on their own. The sign says that some others are in Te Papa but Jemima is misssing. I keep wanting to go correct them. Maybe they’d let me take a photo

  9. Oh my – that is so exciting – I’ve been looking online to see if I can find pictures but to no avail. If know where there are images let us know.

    Also how did Little Ted get separated from the other toys? And where is his head?

    The mystery continues…

  10. There are some Playschool tpoys att he Settlers Msueum in Dunedin – a headless Little Ted and a prototype Humpty

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