Deluxe Reading Toys
© Homation Systems 2014

Company

The company was founded by Henry Orenstein in 1951 as De Luxe Toy Creations.  The primary product at that time was a selection of 24 - 30 inch tall dolls.  Prior to the introduction of Mattel's "Barbie" in 1959, dolls known as "fashion dolls" were much larger with more ornate dresses and accessories and De Luxe was a leading manufacturer.   De Luxe Toy Creations became De Luxe Premium, and then in the late 50's Mr. Orenstein sold De Luxe to the Philadelphia & Reading Company, a company whose primary business was running railroads.  The company was renamed De Luxe Reading Toys at this time.  The spelling of "De Luxe" or "Deluxe" seems to vary widely, but seems to more consistently be "De Luxe" after this time.  After realizing that they really knew nothing about the toy business, the company was sold back to Mr. Orenstein for far less than he originally sold it for.  The company was renamed once more to Deluxe Topper Toys, and in 1964 was shortened to Topper Toys. Deluxe was located in a former school building at 759 Summer Ave, Newark, NJ.  They later added a warehouse location at  2145 McCarter Highway in Newark, and a facility in Bloomfield, NJ.  In October, 1961 they made the biggest move in their history.  A lease was signed on the former Singer Sewing Machine plant in Elizabeth, New Jersey.  This 40 acre site built in 1896 would soon be known as "the world's largest toy plant"  The site at 107 Trumbull St is now part of what is called the Elizabeth Industrial Park, and continues to house over 40 businesses.  When the site was leased, it was reported in the Elizabeth Daily Journal that "The company expected to employ 3000 people initially and later up to 5000."  This would make Deluxe Reading the largest employer in the city.  In fact a follow-up article in the Daily Journal, dated July 19, 1962 stated that Deluxe was hiring 100 people a day. Most of the initial employees were women, hired for the detailed piecework such as rooting doll hair, or sewing doll dresses.  Later as the company moved into battery operated toys and dolls, the company began to hire engineers and people with production experience. The company was extremely successful and introduced some of the most memorable toys of the 50's, 60's and 70's such as Operation X500, Playmobile, Jimmy Jet, Dream Kitchen, Secret Sam Spy Toys, Johnny Eagle Guns, Penny Brite, The Ding-A-Lings, Johnny Lightning cars, Suzy Homemaker appliances, Topper Tigers, Zoomer Boomers, Dawn, and many more.   The success continued into the 70's, but came to an abrupt halt in 1971.  When an inventory was taken in 1971 it was found that the inventory was not what it should have been... In simple terms there was money spent for product, but no product on the shelves. It appeared that creative bookkeeping had happened... for all the toys Topper was selling they had no "real" cash... only numbers on a page.  Topper filed for bankruptcy. This was an unfortunate end to what had been one of the most sucessful toy enterprises of modern times.  Deluxe toys only exist now in the hearts, minds and collections of those who still seek them out for play or display.. 
History
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