Some firsts in post-war toys

In 1946 sturdier, larger, and American-made toys, for mechanical-type youngsters, appeared for the first time since WWII.

Many of us older kids remember the “Woody”, a station wagon with wood exterior. In 1946, Buddy L Toys of Glens Falls, N.Y., produced a 19-inch station wagon with a hard wood body. The doors opened and inside was room for several dolls. It sold for $6.

Tee Gee Metal Industries of Brooklyn, N.Y., issued a calliope that produced music electronically via radio vacuum tubes. It produced both sharps and flats, intended to familiarize a child with a piano keyboard. It sold for around $20.

Dooling Bros. of Los Angeles, Calif., offered for $45 an eight-and-a-half pound racing car body on the racing tracks. It had a two-cycle gasoline motor that attained speeds of 75 to 90 mph.

It was constructed of cast magnesium and the tires were semi-pneumatic. The engine was extra, $22 to $35, depending on body type.

Noma Electric Corp. of New York, produced a mechanical seal for $2. When a youngster pulled a string, “Flippo” (the name of the toy), would move about rather unsteadily on its flippers across the floor, while balancing an attached block on its nose. This did not contain any wheels or springs.

A futuristic streamlined cruise ship that was two feet long came in a kit of prefabricated parts to be assembled and painted was sold by EZ Craft Model Co., selling for $3.

Lionel sold a Chem Lab for the youngster who wished to be a scientist. With the assistance of a comic book that explained chemical experiments, he or she could make such items as invisible ink. The price was $8.

Years ago, before mechanical devices powered a child’s conveyance, there was the manually-operated scooter and similar toys.

Kalamazoo Mfg. Co., made a 26-pound, 40-inch long “handcar”. By moving the hand levers forward and backward it could be sat upon like a wagon and propelled forward.

Then there were the scooters, well known by older folks. A three-wheeled type was made by Tennessee Aircraft Co. This scooter had lines that looked like a race car. The regular type was issued by Coaster Craft Scooter Co.. It had a foot-operated ratchet drive. Prices were $15 each.

Instruct 0 Scale kits, containing aluminum girders and all parts for the construction of bridges, buildings and diverse structures, were sold by Fox Toy Co. for $3. Tools and blueprints were included.

Another unusual toy was the sled that also could be used as a wagon in the summer. When the cotter pinned wheels were removed it was again a sled. Cost was $30 for the “sledmobile”.

Three quarter-sized cradle telephones with 50 feet of line were made for youngsters to call from room to room. Flashlight batteries provided power. Peugo, Inc. made this item for $12.

Remember the roller skates that were attached to your shoes? Keeco Flyer produced a set made of aluminum with knee action. Weight was one pound and they did not need to be oiled. They sold for $7.50.

During this time frame, Lionel went electronic. A device with 10 different medium frequency wave lengths, controlled by buttons on the transformer, could stop and start toy trains, couple and uncouple cars, sound the whistle and operate unloading devices anywhere along the track.

The receivers were as small as a watch. An entire working train of seven cars, tender and engine sold for $75.

Gilbert American Flyers were then beginning to be powered with the same motors employed on the Grumman “Hellcat” Navy planes.

Miniature cars and trucks, powered by spring motors, came out of England from the Tri Ang Minic Line Bros, Ltd. of London. Large models were $2 and smaller were $1.25.

Du Page Plastic Co. was among the first to produce miniature Vinylite plastic building sets, (similar to Lego sets).

A complete village included 30 buildings. Dowel was inserted in a perforated baseboard and the blocks slid on. The set came with material for homes, stores, public buildings, a gas station, a factory, theater, a fast food store, air port and a functional electric light plant.

Windows, doors, shutters, flower boxes, sand paper for street surfaces, and material to be used for trees and shrubs. The sets were available in 10 sizes, the small set had 400 pieces, cost $4, the largest had 3,500 pieces and sold for $27.50.

The prices may seem very reasonable, however , $1 to $2 an hour was a good wage in 1946. Therefore, a toy of $30 could have meant two days’ wages.

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