“Ramp Walkers prove that gravity works!”
The oldest toys in the Museum are these cast iron elephant ramp walkers. Manufactured in 1873 by The Ives Toy Company of Bridgeport, CT, they were the first automatons to be powered by gravity. 140 years later, they work as well as ever and lumber obligingly down even the slightest incline.
“Toonerville Folks” Tin Toys
“Toonerville Folks” was a popular newspaper comic strip that debuted in 1920 as a spoof of rural life. The rickety Toonerville Trolley was always breaking down but the tin wind-up toys it inspired were so well built in Germany, back in 1922, that they are still going strong to this day.
“The Earliest Automatons”
The Zilotone Clown musical wind-up toy is a brilliantly engineered automaton designed by Wolverine in 1930. A clockwork mechanism activates the clown to play from a library of nine different songs, powered by notched tin records. The 1920’s wind-up peacock could strut away, but he is mesmerized by the music.
“Popeye: going strong after 85 years”
Popeye was introduced in the comic strip “Thimble Theatre” in 1929, only to pilot a boat for Olive Oyl and her boyfriend, Ham Gravy. Popeye quickly became a favorite with the public as well as with Olive Oyl. The US Army named their Jeep after Popeye’s magical yellow pet (sitting in the center of the case).
“Betty Boop, Bimbo the Dog and Koko the Clown”
Betty Boop was the quintessential feckless flapper who danced through life with her canine boyfriend Bimbo. Betty first vamped her way into the public’s hearts as a sexy chanteuse in 1930 and continued to lift movie-goers’ hearts throughout the Depression with her song-filled adventures.
“The Early days of Disney”
The marketing juggernaut of Walt Disney along with his right-hand rodent, Mickey Mouse, has been producing products and innovations since 1928. The original Mickey Mouse watch was constructed locally by the Ingersoll Watch company in Waterbury, Connecticut, in 1933.
Curly Top, Collectible Toys
Child star Shirley Temple generated not just ticket sales, but a great deal of toys and associated items. These cobalt blue table settings are prized by collectors, manufactured by the Hazel Atlas and U.S. Glass Companies from 1934 to 1942. They were given away as premiums for Wheaties and Bisquick.
Edgar Bergen’s many faces
One of the most famed ventriloquists of all time, Edgar Bergen, is best remembered for his Charlie McCarthy character, a smart-alecky, precocious dummy, known for his indecent double entendres that challenged the sensibilities of the time. These replica Charlies were all the rage with fans and remain highly collectible to this day. The original dummy now rests in the Smithsonian.
The biggest buffoons in comedy
The Three Stooges, specifically Larry, Moe, and Curly, achieved legendary status in comedy and a great deal of toys and collectibles were generated alongside their meteoric rise. Even decades after the last true Stooge performance, fans continue to purchase memorabilia and new attempts at capturing the spirit are created, such as 2012’s cinematic effort.
A graveyard smash
As technology grows more sophisticated the costume designs of the past seem more and more alien, especially the aliens. The plastic masks were molded from an artist’s drawings and then made into sweat-inducing faces with very limited visibility. Packed in a box along with a flame-proof rayon onesie suit, these costumes by Collegeville were all a child needed for Halloween.
It’s Howdy Doody time!
With a freckle for every state, 48 at the time, Howdy Doody’s goofy smile greeted children from their TV sets for 13 years. The success of the show led to powerful demand for related merchandise, all of which is based on the original design by puppeteer Frank Paris.
With the unprecedented popularity of the British band, the Beatles were a gold mine for marketing and toys of every shape and kind imaginable. When they broke into animation with 1968’s “Yellow Submarine”, a new subcategory of Beatle memorabilia was born: animation art.
“I will not climb on the displays”
When The Simpsons finally made their big screen debut in 2007 the advertising push was huge, and yellow skinned cartoon signs and items were ubiquitous. 7-11 stores briefly converted to kwik-e-marts nation-wide, and this installation, a replica of the famous family’s living room, appeared in 300 movie theaters, complete with a place to sit beside Homer for a selfie!
Tea For Two… Mice
Mickey and Minnie were popular characters on child’s tea sets and dishes. The Lusterware at the top was made by brushing gold dust over the porcelain. The tin set by Ohio Art was produced in the 1930s but Mickey was ahead of his time, fully involved in sharing the housework.
This is it, folks!
One of the most popular cartoons of all time, Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes has been eminently popular with children and adults since its debut in 1934. In spite of some criticism in the 1960s about the level of cartoon mayhem in each show, it has been a popular source for children’s toys, watches and dinnerware.
Throughout the museum there are lunchboxes for hundreds of interests, ranging from “The Chan Clan” to the sci-fi television show “V”. Don’t forget to look up, and you might just find a part of your childhood lunchbreak.
Hey Hey, We’re the Monkees!
“The Monkees” began as a television show inspired by the success of the Beatles, but they later went on to become a real band, playing live shows and releasing albums. At their peak in 1967, the band outsold both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, and as of 2012, their albums and singles have sold over 65 million copies worldwide.
In a museum near near by…
There is perhaps no other property with as many collectibles as the Star Wars universe. The unexpected demand for toys left toy company Kenner in a quantity quagmire, leading to the lucrative Christmas release of the “Early Bird Certificate Package”. It included a certificate which could be mailed to Kenner and redeemed for four Star Wars action figures.
Feats of Clay
These one-of-a-kind production props come directly from Art Clokey himself, the visionary behind “Gumby” and “Davey and Goliath”. Inspired by Disney’s “Fantasia”, Clokey made a few highly experimental and visually inventive short clay animation films for adults, including his first student film “Gumbasia”, described by Clokey as a metaphor for evolving human consciousness.
A terribly popular lizard
“Imperial” Godzilla figures were released in conjunction with “Godzilla 1985”, the U.S. release of “The Return of Godzilla,” one of the few Japanese monster films released outside of Japan. Godzilla toys flourished in Japan and throughout Asia, but were never as popular domestically owing to so few movie releases, resulting in highly collectible kaiju collectibles.