Deluxe Reading Toys
© Homation Systems 2014


If there was a golden age of American toys, I believe that it was the 1960's.  Deluxe had sevveral competitors during that era.  The stories of a few of them are here, gathered from articles, and their web sites (for those still operating). Hasbro Hasbro Web Site Hasbro, Inc. started as a family-owned company and, in its 90-year history, has grown from eight family members working in a small shop in Providence, Rhode Island to a children's and family leisure time and entertainment company with approximately 10,000 employees worldwide. Two brothers, Henry and Hillel Hassenfeld founded Hasbro in 1923. Known as Hassenfeld Brothers, the company began by selling textile remnants and later began manufacturing pencil boxes and school supplies. By 1939, Hassenfeld Brothers' annual sales were $500,000. In 1943, Henry's son, Merrill, was named president of Hassenfeld Brothers, and the company expanded its product line to include toys such as paint sets, wax crayons, and doctor and nurse kits. During the next two decades, the company introduced many new toys to the American marketplace, including Mr. Potato Head®, the first toy ever to be advertised on television. Monumental growth occurred during the 1960s with the introduction of one of the most successful toys ever marketed, G.I. Joe®. Introduced in 1964, G.I. Joe surprised toy buyers throughout the country who didn't expect a new market of boys' action figures (dolls) to win such wide popularity. As most toy companies did, Hasbro struggled in the early 70’s when the oil embargo increased the cost of plastics.  Hasbro succeeded largely due to strong management, cost control, and a successful set of acquisitions including the Milton Bradley Company, its Playskool subsidiary,  select Ideal games and Child Guidance products,  Coleco Industries, the Tonka Corporation, which included its Kenner Products and Parker Brothers® divisions. The Tonka acquisition brought an impressive new library of classics to its already deep and balanced collection with brands such as Tonka® Trucks, Monopoly®, Nerf®, Easy-Bake® Oven, Clue®, Play-Doh® modeling compound, and Kenner’s Star Wars line.


In 1902 Morris Mitchom and A. Cohn founded the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company for the express purpose of producing Mitchom's teddy bears. Mitchom had his wife made a pair of stuffed bears for a window display for the small stationery story he owned in Brooklyn, New York, after seeing a newspaper cartoon concerning President Theodore Roosevelt's 1903 hunting trip in Mississippi.  The cartoon featured a frightened bear cub that had stumbled into Roosevelt's camp. Mitchom sent the President a sample of his "Teddy" and asked permission to name his stuffed bear after him. The President answered in a handwritten note: "I doubt if my name will mean much in the bear business, but you may use it if you wish." The rest is Teddy Bear history. The Ideal Novelty and Toy Company was off to a tremendous start, and this was only the beginning. The 1930s were prime years for Ideal. The issuance of the Shirley Temple, Judy Garland, and Deanna Durbin dolls placed the company firmly in the forefront of popularity.  Ideal created a number of popular toys in the 60's including Robot Commando, Mr. Machine, Odd Ogg, and the famous Mouse Trap game.  Ideal later merged with Sawyer's ViewMaster, and was ultimately taken over by Tyco, which itself was consumed by Mattel in recent years.  The Ideal brand name is no longer used.


Marx toys is by far one of the most recognized, respected and popular names among today's antique toy collectors. The founder of the company, Louis Marx, was born in Brooklyn, NY, in 1896. At the age of sixteen, Marx began working for F. J. Strauss Company, a toy manufacturer that produced items for Abraham & Strauss Department Stores. His energy and enthusiasm helped him to become a manager by the time he was twenty. In 1919, Marx had a falling out with Strauss. Deciding that it was time to venture out on his own, he established Louis Marx & Co., and set up office at 200 Fifth Avenue, in New York City. Marx started his company with virtually nothing. He had no money, machinery, products, patents, or customers, but what he lacked in resources, he more than made up for in seemingly endless energy and determination. He wasted no time and started contracting with manufacturers to produce toys that he designed.  The Marx playsets and trains are highly prized today.  By 1952, Marx made over 20% of the toys sold in the USA and had factories in ten countries, while licensing and exporting to The December, 1955 cover of Time proclaimed Louis Marx "The Toy King"!  Louis Marx sold the company and retired in 1972.  By 1980, the company was bankrupt and assets were liquidated.


Mattel Web Site An American toymaker whose roots extend back to the mid 1940's in Hawthorne, California..  Ruth and Elliott Handler, and Harold "Matt" Matson launched a new company with the Mat from Matt's name, and the El, from Elliott's name.  Originally making dollhouse furniture and musical toys, Mattel is best known now for their Barbie and Hot Wheels lines. Mattel revolutionized toy marketing by sponsoring “The Mickey Mouse Cluib” in 1955.  Soon after, they had another hit with the “talking” Chatty Cathy doll.  They are based in El Segundo, California, and is the largest toymaker in the world.  Mattel has since acquired Tyco, Fisher Price, Matchbox, Pleasant Company (American Girl dolls), Bluebird toys, Aviva and others.


Founded at the end of the forties, REMCO had a generally unremarkable and conventional product line throughout the fifties. An emphasis on bigger more imaginative items in the sixties saw a shift to a wider range of toys, including battery operated toys. Popular Remco toys produced from this period include the Barracuda Sub (1962) and Mighty Matilda Atomic Aircraft (1962), Baby Crawl Along (1965), Lost in Space Robot (1966).  The second half of the 60's saw the fortunes of REMCO take a nose dive, the company finally selling out to Azrak/Hamway in the 70's following a huge string of losses.   Jakks Pacific purchased the remaining assets in 1997.
Home History Toys Design Advertising Competitors 1950's 1960ís 1960ís cont 1970ís Contact FAQ About Competitors