If you are over 30 years old, you probably remember
the craze of the Cabbage Patch Dolls in the 1980's. People waited in lines for hours just for the privilege of purchasing
one of these dolls. Stores couldn't keep them on the shelves. Some people think it was the biggest marketing gimmick of
The dolls were originally
designed by a man named Xavier Roberts living in Georgia. In 1982 Roberts sold the mass production rights to the Coleco Toy
Company. As you might remember, each Cabbage Patch doll came with its own name and birthday, adoption papers and birth certificate.
Each doll was said to be unique (just a tiny bit different).
For the first few years, It seemed that Coleco couldn't produce these dolls fast enough. The dolls were in such
short supply around Christmas time, that some stores had to call the police just to control the crowds waiting in line for
the dolls. Other stores decided to hold lotteries to fairly distribute the dolls and to avoid mob-like scenes. In 1985 Coleco
reported a record sales of $600 million dollars thanks to the Cabbage Patch dolls.
Obviously, like most fads, the Cabbage Patch fad didn't last very long. Sales
fell from $600 million in 1985 to just $250 million in 1986. There were scalpers and profiteers that were left with closets
full of dolls that suddenly were not selling very well anymore. Coleco then tried many things to revive the market for the
dolls by making the dolls "do things" such as talk. However, things went downhill from there and Coleco had to file
for bankruptcy in 1988.
The Hasbro Company
obtained the rights to produce the doll in 1989. They gradually began making the dolls for younger children, leading to smaller
dolls. Even though Cabbage Patch dolls were one the best selling dolls. Hasbro was never able to revitalize the Cabbage Patch
market. In 1994 Mattel purchased the rights to the doll.
Mattel currently still produces Cabbage patch dolls. However, the dolls no longer have cloth bodies, they continue
to be all vinyl play dolls. The dolls are generally about 14 inches or smaller, and most of them come with a gimmick such
as swimming eating or brushing teeth.
Beanie Babies were made by Ty Warner and sold through
his company, Ty, Inc. Although Ty claimed the right to the names and varieties of the toys, other companies tried to compete
with various beanbag-filled stuffed animals. Parodies such as “Meanie Babies” were also marketed as children’s
toys, Originally intended for children, Beanie Babies became a popular gift item for adults. They were considered a cool cubicle
decoration. Hundreds of different animals were made into Beanie Babies, including obscure animals such as nutria and anteaters.
One of the most popular type of Beanie Babies was the teddy bear model. The bear pattern was often reused, but marketed under
different patterns and names. The bear model was used for commemorative purposes, like holidays and even to commemorate the
life and Death of Princess Diana of Wales.
in 1996, the Beanie Babies craze took off with abandon. The craze lasted through 1999. Many people bought the toys en masse,
believing they were a good investment that would increase in value. This was reminiscent of the Cabbage Patch Kid craze of
the 1980s. Ty helped feed the frenzy by frequently retiring various designs. Similar to the Cabbage Patch Kid fiasco, few
people profited from the en masse purchasing of Beanie Babies. Some of the most valued Beanie Babies included, Peanut, the
elephant (in dark blue,) Peking the Panda, Nana the monkey, Chilly the polar bear, Zip the cat, Humphrey the camel, wingless
Crackers the duck, Derby the horse, etc. Tobasco the bull was also highly valued as its name was changed to Snort following
a lawsuit from the Tobasco company over name usage. Many special edition Beanie Babies like the Billionaire Bear and the #1
Bear were very hard to come across. Throughout the mania, the bears were often the most collected beanies because they continuously
held the higher market value. At times, early editions of the Beanie Baby, such as the “old face” teddy bears
became rarer than newer versions.
Beanie Baby came with its own name, birthdate, and silly poetry. The information was collected on a red, heart-shaped tag
that was attached to the animal’s right ear. The condition of the tag was a huge factor in determining the value of
the Beanie Baby. Hard plastic covers were made available to protect the tag, and thus, its value. Without the heart tag, the
Beanie Baby’s value drops by more than fifty-percent. Beanie Babies also came with “tush tags,” which were
affixed to the Beanie Baby’s bottom. Over time, the tag has gone through many changes, which have become known as “generations.”
There are now 15 generations of heart tags, and 13 generations of tush tags.
Toy trains have been an important part of Americana
for a hundred years. Toy trains are a unifying factor, as it seems almost everyone had one as a child. For most of us toy
trains have been an important part of growing up. After all who can forget the magic and excitement of the lights and sounds
of your first toy train. Children and adults alike are fascinated by the lights, sounds, and motions of a neat toy train layout.
But what about the history of the toy train? How did they become so treasured?
To understand the fascination with trains you have to understand how important they were to a young and growing nation.
The steam locomotive was developed in the early 19th century in England. By the late 1820's, trains were introduced to
this nation. This was an important time in our history - the nation was beginning to expand westward. The nation needed to
transport people, agricultural products, minerals, and manufactured goods. Roads were poor, muddy in wet weather, very dusty
in dry. Rivers didn't always go where they were needed and were subject to the vagaries of flood and drought. Canals were
expensive to build, and weren't suitable for all terrain.
The steam locomotive was the perfect solution to the nation's transportation problem. Its fuel - wood and water
- was locally abundant in all areas. Track could be constructed in just about any terrain. The train rapidly became the primary
transportation system in the country. Trains hauled freight, livestock, people, and mail. Trains helped settle the nation.
An important turning point in this nations history occurred in 1876 at Promontory Point, Utah with the driving of the Golden
Spike. Trains truly united the nation, as now a person could travel the vast distance from Atlantic to the Pacific in a few
days, as opposed to the weeks, if not months needed for horse transportation.
Toy trains had their roots in the real trains which had become so important to the country. The first toy trains
were simple wooden carved trains designed to be pulled along the floor with a rope. Many of these were homemade, as local
craftsman capitalized on the desire for toy trains. Manufacturers soon began making these trains out of metal. Because metals
can show greater detail than wood, these little trains were more realistic than their wood counterparts. These types of trains
are still popular for very young children.
locomotive was developed in Europe, and the train had become just as important there as it was here. By the end of the 19th
century, German clockmakers began applying their craft to the art of toymaking. The first toy trains to run around the track
under their own power, just like the real thing, were wind-up trains built by these German craftsmen. Because of this heritage,
wind up trains and other toys are still referred to as 'clockwork toys'. Wind-up trains can still be purchased, and
are still fun to run.
The first electric
toy trains appeared around 1899/1900 and were also probably German in origin. Because few homes had electricity at this time,
these trains were battery powered. The 'wet cell' battery in use at the time was messy and dangerous, but the trains
were still popular. Joshua Lionel Cowen - a name most people will recall- was the first documented American to build an electric
toy train. The year was 1901, and he built it for use by merchants as an animated store window display. It was a simple train
- a motorized gondola car. When he noticed people playing with the thing, he realized its potential, and as they say "A
star was born."
Few inventions have
had as much impact on the history of a nation, or the world, as the locomotive had. Without it, our world would be a much
different place. Toy trains have formed an important part of this world. The magic of toy trains as they wind through miniature
villages and countrysides act as a time machine, transporting us back to a simpler time. The fun of building a layout and
running the trains is a timeless pleasure, fun for young and old alike.
The name 'Corgi Toys' was chosen by Philip Ullmann
in honour of the company's new home, taken from the Welsh breed of dog, the Corgi and the iconic Corgi logo branded the
new range. The name was also short and easy to remember further aligning the range with their rival Dinky Toys. Corgi Toys'
initial sales gimmick was to include plastic glazing which lent the models a greater authenticity, and they carried
the advertising slogan 'the ones with windows'.
The 1956 releases were all familiar British vehicles. Six family saloon cars – Ford Consul (200/200M), Austin
A50 Cambridge (201/201M), Morris Cowley (202/202M), Vauxhall Velox (203/203M), Rover 90 (204/204M), Riley Pathfinder (205/205M)
and Hillman Husky (206/206M), and two sports cars – Austin-Healey 100 (300) and Triumph TR2 (301). Initially, all
models were issued in free-rolling form, or with friction drive motors, with the exception of the heavy commercials which
would have been too bulky and the sports cars whose low slung bodies would not be able to accommodate the motors. The Mechanical
versions, as they were known, were indicated by an 'M' suffix to the model number and were available in different
colour schemes. They were issued with tougher die-cast bases to support the extra weight of the motor, and in far fewer numbers.
Mechanical versions did not sell particularly well, partly due to a significantly higher purchase price, and were phased out
in 1960 with Ford Thunderbird (214M) the last of the line. The die-cast baseplates were expanded across the range to replace
the original tin plate at the same time. Today they are considered more collectable because of their relative rarity. Also
in 1964 Corgi diversified into the adult collector market and released a range of highly detailed models of vintage cars called
'Corgi Classics'. Although superior to Lesney's Matchbox 'Models of Yesteryear', they were comparatively
expensive and met with mixed success. Initial releases were a 1927 Bentley finished in green (9001) or red (9002), an open
1915 Ford Model T coloured black (9011) and a version finished in blue with the hood raised (9013), a 1910 Daimler 38 finished
in red (9021) and a 1911 Renault 12/16 finished in lavender (9031) or pale yellow (9032). Two years later a 1912 Rolls Royce
Silver Ghost coloured silver (9041) was added to the range, which was updated in 1970 to feature American TV stars The Hardy
Boys, discussed later in this article. A Ford Model T van in Lyons Tea livery (9014) appeared in the 1967 Corgi catalogue
but was never released. The Corgi Classics range was dropped by 1969, although the name was later revived for a range of adult
collectable models in the 1980s.
It is generally agreed that the first jigsaw puzzle
was produced around 1760 by John Spilsbury, a London engraver and mapmaker. Spilsbury mounted one of his maps on a sheet
of hardwood and cut around the borders of the countries using a fine-bladed marquetry saw. The end product was an educational
pastime, designed as an aid in teaching British children their geography. The idea caught on and, until about 1820,
jigsaw puzzles remained primarily educational tools.
Vermeer Jigsaw Puzzle, from PiatnikIn 1880, with the introduction of the treadle saw, what had previously been known
as dissections (not a word with particularly enjoyable connotations in our own time) came to be known as jigsaw puzzles, although
they were actually cut by a fretsaw, not a true jigsaw. Towards the end of the century plywood came to be used. With
illustrations glued or painted on the front of the wood, pencil tracings of where to cut were made on the back. These
pencil tracings can still be found on some of these older puzzles.
Cardboard puzzles were first introduced in the late 1800's, and were primarily used for children's puzzles.
It was not until the 20th century that cardboard puzzles came to be die-cut, a process whereby thin strips of metal with sharpened
edges - rather like a giant cookie-cutter - are twisted into intricate patterns and fastened to a plate. The "die"
(which refers to this assembly of twisted metal on the plate) is placed in a press, which is pressed down on the cardboard
to make the cut.
Thus, in the early 1900's,
both wooden and cardboard jigsaw puzzles were available. Wooden puzzles still dominated, as manufacturers were convinced
that customers would not be interested in "cheap" cardboard puzzles. Of course, a second motivation on the
part of manufacturers and retailers of jigsaw puzzles was that the profit from a wooden puzzle, which might sell for $1.00,
was far greater than for a cardboard jigsaw puzzle, which would usually sell for about 25¢.
The Golden Age of jigsaw puzzles came in the 1920s and 1930s with
companies like Chad Valley and Victory in Great Britain and Einson-Freeman, Viking and others in the United States producing
a wide range of puzzles reflecting both the desire for sentimental scenes, enthusiasm for the new technologies in rail and
shipping and, last but not least, new marketing strategies.
One strategy was to make cardboard puzzles more intricate and difficult, thus appealing as much to adults as to children.
Another was to use jigsaw puzzles as premiums for advertising purposes. Einson-Freeman of Long Island City, New York
began this practice in 1931, making puzzles that were given away with toothbrushes. Other premiums followed, but more
important to the jigsaw puzzle's enduring success was the introduction of the weekly puzzle. This practice began
in the United States in September, 1932 - very much the depth of the Depression - with an initial printing of 12,000 puzzles.
Soon after, printings rose to 100,000 and then 200,000.
It might seem odd at first glance that a non-necessity like a jigsaw puzzle would sell so well in the Depression.
But the appeal, then as now, was that one bought a good deal of entertainment for a small price. The weekly jigsaw puzzle
could constitute a solitary or group activity, and would occupy one's time enjoyably for hours. And, of course,
a jigsaw puzzle was "recyclable," in that one could break the puzzle up once one had completed it and then pass
it on to another family member or friend. Another point to bear in mind that jigsaw puzzle enthusiasts in the Depression
discovered what many in our own time are rediscovering - that working on a jigsaw puzzle is a great way to reduce stress!
The popularity of jigsaw puzzles has waxed and waned
since the Depression. They are still, just like the first jigsaw puzzle, sometimes used to teach geography: I recall
assembling a puzzle of the continental states of the USA when I was a boy. (Texas was an easy piece to locate, Colorado
quite challenging.) They are still available in both wood and cardboard. They are still a lot of entertainment
for a small price. Jigsaw puzzles are a pastime, and I will make no nobler claim for them. But they are a healthier
pastime than watching inane (and occasionally vulgar) television shows or playing inane (and occasionally vulgar and/or violent)
computer games. And if they are addictive - and they are - they are a harmless addiction.
Born in Salem, Oregon in 1884. A. C. Gilbert (1884-1962),
boyhood love was magic tricks: he became so proficient that he once matched a traveling professional magician trick for trick,
and earned the prescient praise, Gilbert was also a brilliant student, and soon went on to Yale Medical School. He helped
pay his tuition by performing as a magician, and founded a company, Mysto Manufacturing, which sold magic kits for kids. In
1909, Gilbert finished medical school, but decided to expand his budding toy business rather than practice as a doctor.
Like many residents of New Haven, Connecticut,
he often took the train to New York City; and on one trip in 1911 he was inspired with what would be the most popular of his
dozens of inventions.
Watching out the
train window as some workmen positioned and riveted the steel beams of an electrical power-line tower, Gilbert decided to
create a children's construction kit: not just a toy, but an assemblage of metal beams with evenly spaced holes for bolts
to pass through, screws, bolts, pulleys, gears and eventually even engines. A British toy company called Meccano Company was
then selling a similar kit, but Gilbert's Erector set was more realistic and had a number of technical advantages ---
most notably, steel beams that were not flat but bent lengthwise at a 90-degree angle, so that four of them nested side-to-side
formed a very sturdy, square, hollow support beam.
Gilbert began selling the "Mysto Erector Structural Steel Builder" in 1913, backed by the first major American
ad campaign for a toy. The Erector set quickly became one of the most popular toys of all time: living rooms across the country
were transformed into miniature metropoles, filled with skyscrapers, bridges and railways. Those kids who already owned a
set would beg Santa annually for an upgrade, aiming for the elusive "No. 12 1/2" deluxe kit that came with blueprints
for the "Mysterious Walking Giant" robot. It is difficult for anyone under the age of 35 today to appreciate just
how popular the Erector set was for over half a century. A. C. Gilbert was one of the most multi-talented inventors of all
time. With many fields open to his ingenuity, he chose to educate and entertain children through toys.
In 1886, Plymouth inventor Clarence Hamilton introduced
a new idea to the windmill company. It was a combination of metal and wire, vaguely resembling a gun that could fire a lead
ball using compressed air. Lewis Cass Hough, then president of the firm, gave it a try and, after his first shot, enthusiastically
exclaimed, "Boy, that's a daisy!"
The name stuck and the BB gun went into production as a premium item given to farmers when they purchased a windmill.
The gun was such a huge success that Plymouth Iron Windmill soon began manufacturing the Daisy BB gun in place of windmills!
On January 26, 1895 the company's board of directors officially voted to change the name to Daisy Manufacturing Company,
The sturdy little Daisy BB gun quickly
became a staple with American youth and youngsters all across the land cut their shooting teeth on a Daisy. Competition was
keen at the time, with guns such as Bulls Eye, Dewey, Hero, Dandy, Atlas and others appearing almost overnight and disappearing
just as quickly. Over the years Daisy has continued to improve and expand our line of airguns, putting model after model within
the reach of every young shooter's pocketbook and skill level.
Around 1885, Edwin Binney, and C. Harold Smith, formed
the partnership of Binney & Smith. The cousins expanded the company's product line to include shoe polish and printing
ink. In 1900, the company purchased a stone mill in Easton, Pennsylvania, and began making slate pencils for schools. This
started Binney's and Smith's research into nontoxic and colorful drawing tools for kids. They had already invented
a new wax crayon used to mark crates and barrels, however, it was loaded with carbon black which was too toxic, or poisonous
to be used by children.
In 1903, (one
hundred years ago) a new brand of crayons with superior working qualities was introduced; they called them Crayola Crayons.Crayola
brand crayons, the first kids crayons ever made, were invented by cousins, Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith. The first box
of eight Crayola crayons was sold in 1903. The crayons were sold for a nickel and the colors were black, brown, blue, red,
purple, orange, yellow, and green. The word Crayola was created by Alice Stead Binney (wife of Edwin Binney) who took the
French words for chalk (craie) and oily (oleaginous) and combined them to get the word "CRAYOLA." In English, crayons
remind us of an oily chalk. Stronger than chalk, but more waxy than oily, crayons have become the drawing tools for
millions of children all over the world.
1903, soon after developing them, Binney & Smith sold the first box of eight Crayola crayons for one nickel. The box includes
black, brown, blue, red, purple, orange, yellow, and green. Today, there over one hundred different types of crayons
being made by Crayola including crayons that: sparkle with glitter, glow in the dark, smell like flowers, change colors, and
wash off walls and other surfaces and materials.
The yo-yo is a popular toy consisting of a length of
string tied at one end to a flat spool. It is played by holding the free end of the string (usually by inserting one finger
in a slip knot) and pulling at it so as to cause the spool to turn whilst suspended in mid-air, either taking up or releasing
the string. First made popular in the 1920s, yo-yoing is still very much enjoyed by both children and adults, though it was
originally made as a children's toy.
the simplest play, the string is initially wound on the spool by hand; the yo-yo is then thrown downwards so that it first
descends unwinding the string, then (by inertia) climbs back winding it up; and finally the yo-yo is grabbed, ready to be
thrown again. Many other trick plays exist, most based on the basic sleeper trick. One of the most famous tricks on
the yoyo is "walk the dog". This is done by throwing a strong sleeper and allowing the yoyo to roll across the floor.
English historical names for the yo-yo include bandalore
(from French) and quiz. French historical terms include bandalore, incroyable, de Coblenz, emigrette, and joujou de Normandie
(joujou meaning little toy) The earliest surviving yo-yo dates to 500 BC and was made using terra cotta skin disks. A Greek
vase painting from this period shows a boy playing yo-yo (see right). Greek records from the period describe toys made out
of wood, metal, or painted terra cotta (fired clay). The terra cotta disks were used to ceremonially offer the toys of youth
to certain gods when a child came of age—discs of other materials were used for actual play.
Philippine historical records indicate that 16th-century hunters
hiding in trees used a rock tied to a cord up to 20 feet in length to throw at wild animals beneath them—the cord enabling
retrieval of the rock after missed attempts The 1990s saw a resurgence of the popularity of the yo-yo and yo-yo culture.
Continued development of yo-yo technology is evident
in the widespread sale of the Yomega Brain, based on Michael Caffrey's design, and the Playmaxx Pro-yo, a take-apart fixed
In 1990, Tom Kuhn released
the SB-2 yo-yo (short for Silver Bullet 2), a high-performance ball bearing transaxle made with aluminum. This marked a major
breakthrough for the modern yo-yo, as it was the first ball bearing yo-yo that actually worked. This ensured extremely long
spin times and the ability to return as well. This yo-yo, (along with his many other accomplishments in the yo-yo world),
eventually brought him the title "Father of the modern yo-yo," receiving the "Donald F. Duncan Family Award
for Industry Excellence" in 1998. He was the first to receive this award.
In the late 1990s, Yomega partnered with HPK Marketing and helped fuel the yo-yo boom that spread across the globe.
From this partnership, Team High Performance was born, a group of skilled demonstrators that toured the world. In this period,
Yomegas were heavily marketed in Japan, where Bandai produced several yo-yos under the Yomega name which were sometimes different
from those sold in the US.
At the turn
of the century, 1999–2000, Yomega partnered with McDonald's and distributed a large number of Yomega X-Brain and
Firestorm yo-yos at outlets throughout the US.
development around this time included the use of different materials such as billet machined Aluminum as seen in the ‘Dif-e-Yo’
Although pedal cars were quite popular from the 1920's
into the 1960's, in fact the first examples were produced much earlier. Their history actually begins at the end of the
nineteenth century. Wheeled toys, including bicycles, became quite popular toys in the last decades of the 1800's. In
the 1890's, the first pedal toys were introduced, modeled after the first automobiles to appear on the roads. Nearly as
soon as the Model T was introduced, children's versions of these real cars were created. These cars featured a steel body
molded to look like the real thing, and a wood chassis and wheels with rubber tires. However, like the real cars they were
modeled after, pedal vehicles were quite expensive, and were mainly purchased by very wealthy families.
During the Great Depression, few were purchased, and these few were
destined for wealthy children as well. Middle and lower-class children still played with homemade toys during this time, as
there were very few inexpensive mass-produced toys available. Production of metal pedal cars ceased during World War II because
the metal was needed for the war effort, but they became quite popular again in the 1950's and 1960's. These later
models would make pedal toy history.
and later models differed from their predecessors because they were chain-driven. Also, postwar prosperity meant that more
and more families could afford to buy these previously out-of-reach toys for their children. As more and more families were
able to afford automobiles, they could afford pedal car versions for their children, as well. In many ways, their early history
follows the history of real automobile ownership. These stylish metal versions were at the top of many children's Christmas
wish lists for several decades. Because they were so popular, they remain in many peoples' minds as a classic 1950's
Like real cars, these later versions were produced
in a wide array of styles and colors, modeled after real car makes. Using the latest trends in real
cars, they often had working lights and horns, and moveable parts such as windshields and convertible
tops. Details included chrome hood ornaments, white wall tires, and intricate paint jobs. These pedal
toys sold very well, and toy manufacturers capitalized on this demand by producing pedal planes, trains,
and trucks, among several other models.
1960's brought big changes to pedal car history. The availability of plastic, as well as the introduction
of new safety standards, brought an end to the metal ride on era. By the 1970's, steel pedal cars
had been replaced by new plastic cars. These cars were no longer made to look like replicas of real cars,
but instead had a toy-like aesthetic.
The 1940s began with Britain plunged into the Second
World War with Germany. The war period was one of great austerity with shortages of every kind and the toy industry was subject
to the same restrictions as other industries. Rationing, introduced early in the war, continued long after the war ended.
The government launched the Utility scheme in 1941 to ensure that good contemporary design went hand in hand with economy
of production. The guidelines extended to all types of manufacture including toys, but in reality most children played with
toys which had been handed down from older children or made at home. Where possible, some firms, such as Nicol Toys, were
able to continue production throughout the war as long as they were permitted access to materials. Plimpton Engineering, the
manufacturers of the construction set Bayko, used aluminium or tinplate instead of steel for the rods in the kits, less consistent
colour, and packaging became very crude. By the end of 1941 all production came to an end and the works went over entirely
to the war effort. It produced a range of war related goods together with parts forWellington bombers. Others were unable
to survive, with companies such as The Teddy Toy Company, set up in 1914, winding up in 1951. Raw materials were rationed
until long after the war was over as almost everything was used in the war effort. Teddy bear firms also helped with the war
effort, such as Dean’s
Rag Book Co. who made life jackets. Chad Valley made children’s clothing and Merrythought
made military uniform accessories. Soft toy makers tried to continue making their products, but even teddy bears had to get
slimmer because they had less filling. Due to this the general shape of teddy bears and other soft toys began to change; Limbs
and muzzles became shorter, necks were unjointed. Other major toy manufacturers played their part. Lines Bros. made gas masks
and military supplies for army training for most of the war period. Production at Britains continued at the outbreak of war
in 1939 until 1941 when it made munitions for the war effort. After 1945 it returned to the manufacture of toy soldiers and
other toys but with limited output due to labour shortages. From 1943 metal was completely banned for use in toy making. Meccano’s
familiar red and green paint vanished until after the war and only plain metal sets were available. Another old established
firm, Brookes and Adams, founded in 1853 making medals and badges, installed with great foresight, a plant for the production
of plastic products in the late 1920s, in an attempt to diversify. The first plastic article that it made for the toy market
was the Bandalasta ‘Playtime’ tea and dinner set that it made through the war period, after which it went on to
produce games equipment. Made between the late 1920s and the 1950s the sets were highly unusual at the time, because they
were made from plastic as opposed to the more usual earthenware.
By the early 1950s Dinky Toys had become popular in
the United Kingdom. Most of the models were in a scale of approximately 1:48, which blended in with O scale railway sets,
but many buses and lorries were scaled down further so that they were around 4 inches long. In 1954 the Dinky Toys range was
reorganized and cars were now sold in individual boxes and there were no series of models differentiated by a letter, each
model having its own unique catalogue number. The Dinky Toys range became more sophisticated throughout the 1950s but due
to the lack of any real competition development of the models was perhaps slower than it could have been. That was until July
1956 when Mettoy introduced a rival line of models under the Corgi brand name. The most obvious difference was the addition
of clear plastic 'glazing', and the new range was sold with the slogan 'The Ones With Windows'. Once Meccano
Ltd had direct competition they were able to respond by updating their Dinky Toys range accordingly and the models from both
companies rapidly became more and more sophisticated featuring working suspension, 'fingertip steering' and detailed
A rival third range of model cars also appeared in 1959 called "Spot-on" which were manufactured
in Northern Ireland and produced by Tri-ang, a division of Lines Brothers. This range were kept to one scale, 1:42, and were
comparatively more expensive, never managing to sell as many units as Corgi and Dinky. In 1964 Tri-ang took over the parent
Meccano company (which included Hornby trains as well as Meccano itself) and since Dinky Toys were more popular than Spot-On,
the latter were phased out in 1967, although a few cars originally designed for Spot-On were made in Hong Kong and marketed
as Dinky Toys. However from this point Dinky used the 1:42 scale for many of the English made cars and trucks, although the
French factory stuck to the more common 1:43 scale, which was already popular in Europe.
In the late 1960s a new competitor
entered the U.K. model car market. This was Hot Wheels from U.S. toymaker Mattel. Their low-friction axles gave them play
value that Dinky and the other major British brands including Corgi and Matchbox could not match. Each manufacturer responded
with its own version of this innovation - Dinky's name for its wheel/axle assembly was "Speedwheels". The company
continued to make innovative models, with all four doors opening (a first in British toy cars), retractable radio aerials
(another first), Speedwheels, high quality metallic paint, and jewelled headlights. However, these models were expensive to
manufacture and the price could only be kept down if the quantities were sufficiently high enough. Changing fashions in the
toy industry, international competition and the switch to cheap labour in lower wage countries meant that the British made
Dinky Toys days were numbered, and after attempts at simplifying the products as a means of saving costs, the famous Binns
Road factory in Liverpool finally closed its doors in November 1979. Corgi Toys managed to struggle on until 1983. Thus ended
the dominant era of British-made die-cast toy models.
The Dinky trade-name changed hands many times before ending up
as part of Matchbox International Ltd in the late '80s. This seemed to be a logical and perhaps synergistic development,
uniting two of the most valuable and venerated names in the British and world die-cast model car market under one roof. Matchbox
began issuing model cars of the 1950s through the 'Dinky Collection' in the late 1980s, but these were models intentionally
designed for adult collectors. The models were attractive and honoured the tradition of the Dinky name in terms of both quality
and scale, before production stopped after only a few years. The 'Dinky Collection' then became absorbed into the
themed series offered by Matchbox Collectibles Inc, owned by US giants Mattel, who have shown little interest in or understanding
of the Dinky brand preferring nowadays to rebadge normal Matchbox models as Dinky for some editions of their models in certain
markets, or to reissue 1:43 models from the Matchbox era. No new "dedicated" Dinky castings have been created in
the Mattel era since Matchbox Collectibles was shut down in 2000.
Space toys reached the peak of their popularity between
the late 1940's and the 1960's. The vast quantity and range of toys available was a direct reflection of man's
progress in, and pre-occupation with, space exploration during an exciting era culminating in the lunar landing 1969. Japanese
manufacturers produced the largest range of robots, rockets, flying saucers and other odd, futuristic spacecraft. Elsewhere,
other companies world-wide produced space related items in tin and plastic, but none with the same flair as the inventive
Japanese toy makers. Later on, during the 1970's and 1980's, toy-makers in China, Russia, Taiwan and Hong Kong
cashed in by copying the early Japanese designs, mostly using plastic. Children's television series began to appear in
the late 1950's depicting space themes. One of the earliest was Dan Dare who was a futuristic Space Captain, originally
portrayed in the Eagle comics and this was, without doubt, the inspiration for the boom in space toy manufacturing to come.
One man was to lead the field in space-related children's programmes - his name was Gerry Anderson - and he was responsible
for Torchy the Battery Boy, The Adventures of Twizzle, Stingray, Fireball XL5, Joe 90, Captain Scarlet, Thunderbirds,
Four Feather Falls, Space 1999 and, later on, Terrahawks and Space Precinct. Many companies realised the commercial potential
of producing toys in conjunction with these series - Dinky producing die-cast vehicles such as Penelope's FAB 1 car (Thunderbirds)
and Century 21 Toys, who came up with a series of large plastic battery-operated space-craft (mainly Thunderbirds, Captain
Scarlet and Joe 90). Later, in the 1960's, Dr Who was first screened on BBC television, and toys relating to this have
proved a huge merchandising success for various manufacturers - toys are still being produced today in conjunction with the
series, such as talking Daleks, action figures and action suits. By far the greatest commercial success of all though in space
toy sales came with the Star Wars merchandising following on from the film - a vast range of related items, mostly produced
by Kenner, flooded the world market.
The meaning of toys as we know it today being exclusively
playthings for children was not commonly used until the nineteenth century. Before then and even into the early 1800’s
the word toy was used to describe anything from an adult bauble of little or no value to a very expensive miniature (like
handcrafted pieces of silver furniture handmade by the best craftsmen). The word toy comes from an old English world meaning
Ancient toys from excavations of Egyptian ruins show that children had a variety: painted wood balls or glazed
papyrus and reeds; spinning tops of wood, papyrus, or stone; pull toys and dolls crafts of wood, ivory, gold, bronze and clay.
Some wooden animals had moveable parts, like the jaws of tigers and crocodiles.
Both in Greek and Roman times there were
lots of different children’s playthings. They played with clay spinning tops (some propelled with a piece of thread
on the end of a stick), balls, terracotta animals and dolls with moving arms and legs, baby toys including animal shaped rattles.
Roman children had dolls, wooden toy hoops, spinning tops, drums, draughts, and wooden animals. Childrens games like
naughts and crosses, knucklebones and blind man's bluff existed. Wood horses for both these eras were also favourites,
including models of the Trojan horse. Many in this period were designed to develop physical fitness. Some, like the hoop,
were used by both children and adults. Kites were another old plaything enjoyed by young and old. The Chinese, who invented
kites over 3000 years ago, developed many variations and also used them to send signals. The Chinese or Japanese invented
the whipped top at an early date. These became so popular and all different types spread throughout Asia and the Middle East.
In the English 1500’s toys were popular. For example a Tudor Christmas was a special celebration full of fun and also
pomp. The celebrations took place in halls and a Lord of Misrule rode in on a hobby horse, Mummers were actors, Jesters kept
everyone happy and Merrymakers (ordinary people) wore costumes and heads of strange monsters! The musicians would have played
with pipes, drums, lutes and whistles from a gallery.
It was certainly a different idea. Take a wheel, drill
a bunch of holes around the whole wheel and then stick a bunch of sticks into the wheel. Yes, it was different all right.
But would it sell? Well, if you know anything about Tinkertoys you already know the answer to that. But, if not, then you
might want to read a brief history of one of the most famous toys ever made.
Tinker Toys was the brain child of Charles H. Pajeau and Robert Pettit. These guys met while on a train going to
work in Chicago. Talk about your chance encounter. Charles was a stone mason and Robert was a trader. They both hated their
jobs. It was this one thing that they had in common that brought them together. All they needed was some inspiration.
The inspiration came to Pajeau when he was watching
some young children play with regular pencils and spools of thread. He watched as they stuck the pencils into the spools and
then found other items around the house to mix in with them. He noticed how they could spend hours taking apart and putting
together the same parts over and over. So Pajeau decided and Petit agreed, to put together a construction set made simply
out of sticks and spools, just like the thread and pencils that the kids were using.
The design was simple. Charles took a spool, drilled eight holes around it and
one in the center that would be for the purpose of making it a cornerstone piece. The design was based on the Pythagorean
Principal of the progressive right triangle. As a stone mason, Charles knew these things and ultimately helped him in the
construction of the toy itself.
two new toymakers knew that they had a hit on their hands. They decided to start their own toy company which they named "The
Toy Tinkers". They named it as such because basically what they did was tinker with things until they came up with what
they were looking for. Since the toy they made inspired kids to do the same thing, they named their first toy "The Tinkertoy".
Unfortunately, they didn't find a lot of people
who were interested in their new toy, mostly because there were so many toys already out on the market. So in an effort to
attract customers they set up displays at toy stores in the Chicago area. Well, the displays were so successful that soon
the demand for these toys was greater than the supply.
What followed over the next 90 years is pretty much history. Tinkertoys became a huge hit with young children because
of their simplistic design and the infinite things that you could do with that design. The company itself stayed pretty much
the same until it was sold to Hasbro in 1986. The wood pieces were replaced with plastic, but the concept was the same. But
in 2000 the wood pieces came back and Tinkertoys returned to their roots.
Mr. Potato Head was almost little more than a forgotten
cereal premium. But history has a way of being kind to the classics. And George Lerner was about to make history! During
the World War II era, George Lerner enjoyed success as a well known inventor and designer. Just before 1950, he designed and
produced a first generation set of plastic face pieces. The push pin shaped noses, ears, eyes and mouth parts could be pushed
into fruits or vegetables to transform the food into an endless array of magical anthropomorphic playmates.
The toy wasn't an immediate hit however. There was still a World
War 2 mentality to conserve resources. Toy companies didn't think that customers would accept the idea of wasting a piece
of food as a child's toy. But after awhile, George finally sold the toy, for $5,000 dollars, to a cereal company,
who planned to use the pieces as a premium giveaway in cereal boxes. But George knew that his new toy deserved a bigger shot.
And that shot came in a meeting with a family owned New England manufacturer. Mr Lerner and the manufacture bought back the
rights from the cereal company for $7,000.
Potato Head, one of the world’s most adored "personalities," was "born" in 1952, at the Pawtucket,
RI - based toy company, Hasbro, Inc., and began making history at an early age as the very first toy to be advertised on television.
The original Mr. Potato Head contained only parts, such as eyes, ears, noses and mouths, and parents had to supply children
with real potatoes for face-changing fun!
years later, a hard plastic potato "body" was included with Mr. Potato Head to replace the need for a real potato.
Over the next three decades, a variety of Mr. Potato Head products were sold. He was so loved by children, that he was expanded
into additional toy categories including puzzles, creative play sets, and electronic hand-held, board and video games. The
vast popularity of Mr. Potato Head also attracted non-toy companies who licensed his image and name to make apparel, accessories
and novelty items.
Mr. Potato Head’s
appeal to people young and old made him the ideal ambassador for many causes and good-will efforts. In 1987, Mr. Potato Head
surrendered his signature pipe to the U.S. Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop, and became the "spokespud" for the
American Cancer Society’s annual "Great American Smokeout" campaign—a role he carried out for several
years. On his 40th birthday, it was decided that he would no longer be a "couch potato" and he received a special
award from the President’s Council for Physical Fitness, right on the lawn of the White House! Always one to pass on
a wholesome message to the public, he and Mrs. Potato Head joined up with the League of Women’s Voters in 1996 to help
out with their "Get Out the Vote" campaign and spread the word about the importance of voting to Americans. Mr. Potato Head ... a world-class personality whose recognition
grew from a simple children’s toy to everyone’s best friend, a speaker of causes, entertainment star and a cultural
Its bright red frame isn't showing signs of gray.
Its silver-gray drawing surfaces hasn't lost its shine. Its width still measures a trim of 9 ½ inches…
but the Etch A Sketch Magic Screen® is almost 40 years old. It seems like only yesterday when the first Etch A Sketch®
toys were produced on July 12, 1960. Here's the story…
In the late 1950's, a man by the name of Arthur Granjean invented something he called ``L'Ecran Magique",
the magic screen, in his garage. In 1959, he took his drawing toy to the International Toy Fair in Nuremburg, Germany.
The Ohio Art Company saw it but had no interest in the toy. When Ohio Art saw the toy a second time, they decided to
take a chance on the product. The L'Ecran Magique was soon renamed the Etch A Sketch® and became the most popular
drawing toy in the business. In the 1960, Ohio Art used television to advertise the Etch A Sketch®.
Etch A Sketch
The response was so incredible
that the company decided to continue manufacturing them until noon Christmas Eve 1960. The Etch A Sketches® were
then immediately shipped to the West Coast so people in California could buy Etch A Sketch® on Christmas Eve and have
them for Christmas.
The Etch A Sketch®
has changed very little over the years. In the 1970s, Ohio Art offered hot pink and blue frames. But people still
wanted the bright red frames that were so popular. The print on the frame has changed slightly, but the inner workings have
remained exactly the same. The screen's reverse side is coated with a mixture of aluminum powder and plastic beads.
The left and right knobs control the horizontal and vertical rods, moving the stylus where the two meet. When the stylus
moves, it scrapes the screen leaving the line you see. The knobs have changed slightly. The new shape has a different edge
for easier handling and turning.
the Etch a Sketch® so popular? It has influenced a generation of artists who have made a road for themselves to press;
magazines, newspapers, and TV. The Etch A Sketch® club often features these artists in its newsletter. The
Etch A Sketch® Club was formed in 1978 and has an average of 2000 members, ranging from age two to eighty-two.
There's a story attached with every marble and if
a child picks up marble collection as a hobby, it could prove profitable for him because he will get to know a lot about foreign
cultures and the history of various countries as well as his own. This insight into the past history and culture can go a
long way to teaching a child about life in other places and times.
To start off with the hobby of marble collecting, you first need to read up and gather knowledge about marbles, their
different types, their histories, how to stock up on resources, where to collect marbles and learn the places from where you
can collect marbles of your choice. The best place to brush up your knowledge about marbles is the internet. You can join
forums and groups on the internet where you can meet many likeminded people and marble collectors who can help you out with
tips, suggestions, resources and their own experiences while pursuing this rewarding hobby.
There are countless articles on the internet, in places like websites, article
directories, e-books, e-magazines, etc. You can also find books in libraries where you can read up about marbles and their
types. Your forum friends and fellow group members who are more knowledgeable can also answer your queries for you. You can
also take practical lessons by hanging around in antique stores, marble stores and toy shows and by visiting toy stores or
browsing through pictures on marble websites like marblesonline.com.
The online marble stores have a huge display of pictures of the marbles they are trying to sell and many interesting
details and trivia are inked beside the pictures. Even going through these pictures would help you learn about the various
types of marbles available. The reason why sufficient prior knowledge and research on marbles is so vital is because without
this, you won’t be able to differentiate between the ultra common marbles and the more valuable marbles and the ones
which have antique worth with a lot of history to enhance its appeal. Some of these antiques can fetch astronomical amounts
in the market and are collectors’ favorites.
It is very difficult to tell one from another by just looking at these marbles. Unless you have thorough knowledge
about these circular beauties, their similarities and designs and patterns will leave you stumped. Before heading straight
to marble stores and antique shops, you first have to decide on which type of marbles you actually desire. It will also safeguard
you against frauds because surely you don’t want to purchase a few cents’ worth of marbles for $400 or sell off
antique marbles worth $7000 at $100!
are different types of marbles such as cats’ eye, onionskin, sulphide, oxbloods, agates, handmade spirals, art glass
marbles, Christiansen Swirl, Akro Corkscrew marbles, clay marbles, ribbon, hand crafted marbles, machine made marbles etc.
There's a story attached with every marble and if a child picks up marble collection as a hobby, it could prove profitable
for him because he will get to know a lot about foreign cultures and the history of various countries as well as his own.
This insight into the past history and culture can go a long way to teaching a child about life in other places and times.
To start off with the hobby of marble collecting, you
first need to read up and gather knowledge about marbles, their different types, their histories, how to stock up on resources,
where to collect marbles and learn the places from where you can collect marbles of your choice. The best place to brush up
your knowledge about marbles is the internet. You can join forums and groups on the internet where you can meet many likeminded
people and marble collectors who can help you out with tips, suggestions, resources and their own experiences while pursuing
this rewarding hobby.
There are countless
articles on the internet, in places like websites, article directories, e-books, e-magazines, etc. You can also find books
in libraries where you can read up about marbles and their types. Your forum friends and fellow group members who are more
knowledgeable can also answer your queries for you. You can also take practical lessons by hanging around in antique stores,
marble stores and toy shows and by visiting toy stores or browsing through pictures on marble websites like marblesonline.com.