Lucy, of the "Peanuts" comic strip, driving a Jeep. It's clearly a high-hood CJ-3B, which suggested to me that it could date from the mid 1950s. The purple Jeep with opening hood carries a United Features Syndicate copyright date of 1952, but this appears to refer to copyright on the Peanuts character rather than on the toy itself.
Peanuts was first published in 1950, but Lucy Van Pelt and her brother Linus were introduced to the strip in 1952, and Peanuts began its rise to national prominence just as the Willys Jeep CJ-3B also entered its heyday. Peanuts creator Charles Schulz was first awarded the National Cartoonists Society cartoonist of the year award in 1955.
There were a number of different small diecast vehicles with the Peanuts characters in them, manufactured by Aviva, which was owned by Hasbro (maker of GI Joe). These vehicles were part of a significant industry based on the merchandising of Peanuts. They were apparently also sold by Hallmark, the greeting card company which held the rights to many Peanuts products.
Peanuts collectors date this toy as mid-1970's to early 80's. This is supported by the bubble-pack cards from Aviva (50K JPEG) and Hasbro (60K JPEG) editions, which are labelled as "Snoopy Mini Diecast" or "Snoopy Handfuls." By the 70's Snoopy had become by far the most popular part of the Peanuts franchise.
Creator Charles Schulz died, and Peanuts ceased daily publication, in 2000. The massive merchandising industry seems likely to continue for many years (see Wikipedia).
Thanks to Jarek Skonieczny for the photos. -- Derek Redmond
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