TootsieToy

Last updated

Tootsietoy ship, similar to early diecast toys made as Monopoly game pieces. Tootsie Toy, Aircraft Carrier,.jpeg
Tootsietoy ship, similar to early diecast toys made as Monopoly game pieces.

Tootsietoy is a manufacturer of die cast toy cars and other toy vehicles which was originally based in Chicago, Illinois. Though the Tootsietoy name has been used since the 1920s, the company's origins date from about 1890. An enduring marque, toys with the Tootsietoy name were consistently popular from the 1930s through the 1990s.

Contents

Diecasting origins

Tootsietoy had its beginnings in the two diecasting companies of the Dowst and the Shure Brothers who were established near the same time in the 1890s. [1] The Dowst brothers originally established a trade paper called the National Laundry Journal and later purchased a linotype machine to cast metal buttons and cuff links related to the laundry business. [1]

Meanwhile, the Tootsietoy brand also had origins in a range of miniature cars in the form of charms, pins, cuff links and the like, introduced circa 1901 by the Chicago based Cosmo Company owned by the Shure Bros. which bought Dowst in 1926. The name, however, remained Dowst Manufacturing Co. [2] The first actual model car from the company was produced between 1909 and 1911. One was a closed limousine which was followed by a 1915 Ford Model T open tourer.

Pre-War toys

By the early 1920s the name 'tootsie' was being used as a brand name and "Tootsietoy" was registered as a trade mark in 1924. The 'Tootsie' moniker apparently came from one of the Dowst Brothers' granddaughters, whose name was "Toots" [3] [ page needed ]. Tootsietoy made metal prizes for Cracker Jack boxes, [4] and this success in the 1930s may also have led to Dowst providing cast pieces for the game Monopoly. [1] The company also produced a large assortment of die-cast dollhouse furniture. [5]

In the 1920s trains, cars, trucks, military vehicles, aircraft, pistols and a variety of other toys were manufactured by Dowst. Vehicles often had white rubber tires which over time become brittle and often have not survived play-wear and time. One of the unique offerings were a set of 1932 Graham diecast cars - Tootsietoy offered a Graham sedan, town car, coupe, roadster, dual cowl convertible, delivery panel truck and tow truck. [6] A marque not often seen in miniature since, Graham was a household name at Tootsietoy. The Tootsietoy Grahams were available in boxes with "Graham" on the sides - indicating that they may have been used as promotional models for the Graham company. If so, these would have been just about the earliest promotional automobile toys seen anywhere. [6]

One car that definitely was a promotional model was the 1935 Lasalle made for General Motors that came in sedan and coupe versions packaged in a special smallish blue and dark rose box. Another interesting model was the 1936 Lincoln Zephyr which was available in a gift set with a 'Roamer' camper trailer. [7] World War II work later had the Dowst Co. making detonators for grenades and mines as well as belt and parachute buckles. As would be expected, little toy production was seen during wartime production, though some paper toys were made. [1]

Toy construction

Whether small or large, metal or plastic, Tootsietoys were usually simply made - often with only seven parts: a single diecast metal body, two axles, and four wheels. Arms protruding from the underside of the body were pinched around the axles after the wheels were added, which held wheels and axles in place. Many Tootsietoy cars are still made in this basic manner, though in the 1970s and 1980s, plastic interiors and other parts were also added.

One exception to this simplistic construction was the 1955 Pontiac Safari two-door station wagon which was heavily diecast in about 1:28 scale, larger than much of the Tootsietoy fare. On this model, the diecast body was not as simple as on most of the companies offerings but also had diecast seats, an accurately shaped dashboard and a plastic steering wheel. The rear tailgate opened and the car also had a heavy separately diecast chassis. The usual fare in the 1960s were American offerings like a 1959 Oldsmobile convertible, a 1959 Ford Wagon, or a 1960 Chrysler convertible. Vehicles were made in many sizes but 5", 3.5" and even smaller were all produced. As time passed the larger sizes generally faded, but in the 1970s the 1 dollar, 10 car "JamPac" of tiny, simple diecast cars about 2 inches long became known as the world's best child "shutter-upper". [1] A couple of these smaller cars are still in demand, like a replica of the Chevy Corvette powered Cheetah (competition in the real world for Shelby's Cobra). This car, though simple and tiny, was not commonly seen in miniature elsewhere.

Later business

In 1961, Strombeck-Becker, later abbreviated to 'Strombecker' was a hobby company purchased by Dowst / Tootsietoy. [1] Strombecker had previously made popular plastic models mainly for slot-car racing — and continued to do so, but by the end of the 1960s the slot-car niche had largely run its course. [1] Later, plastic as well as die-cast toys were identified with both names as "Tootsietoy-Strombecker". The name Tootsietoy was often applied to larger, but fairly realistic plastic cars and trucks through the 1990s, but some die-cast were also still made like the Hardbody series in Matchbox size and slightly larger than 1:43 scale.

By the late 1960s, Tootsietoys were made in both the United States and Hong Kong. Though most Tootsie toys are produced in Asia today, they were traditionally produced in Chicago, and were also made in a few other American factories such as Rockford, Illinois. Tootsietoy, however, should not be confused with the similar brand Midgetoy, which was also based in Rockford.

Tootsietoy, which is now owned by J. Lloyd International, Inc., is still based in Chicago and makes about 40 million cars per year.

Related Research Articles

A model vehicle or toy vehicle is a miniature representation of an automobile. Other miniature motor vehicles, such as trucks, buses, or even ATVs, etc. are often included in this general category. Because many miniature vehicles were originally aimed at children as playthings, there is no precise difference between a model car and a toy car, yet the word 'model' implies either assembly required or the accurate rendering of an actual vehicle at smaller scale. The kit building hobby became popular through the 1950s, while the collecting of miniatures by adults started to pick up momentum around 1970. Precision-detailed miniatures made specifically for adults are a significant part of the market since the mid-1980s.

Louis Marx and Company

Louis Marx and Company was an American toy manufacturer in business from 1919 to 1980. Its products were often imprinted with the slogan, "One of the many Marx toys, have you all of them?"

Die-cast toy Type of toy

A die-cast toy is a toy or a collectible model produced by using the die casting method of putting molten lead or zinc alloy in a mold to produce a particular shape. Such toys are made of metal, with plastic, rubber, glass, or other machined metal parts. Wholly plastic toys are made by a similar process of injection moulding, but the two methods are distinct because of the properties of the materials.

Siku Toys

SIKU is the range of toy vehicles and related products produced by the German company Sieper Lüdenscheid GmbH & Co. KG in Lüdenscheid, Germany. The company manufactures many vehicles, but the Super Series 1:55 scale die-cast line is the core product, thus Siku historically could be seen as the "German Matchbox". The company also owns the well known HO scale producer Wiking-Modellbau.

Lone Star Products Ltd. was the brand name used by the British company Die Cast Machine Tools Ltd (DCMT) for its toy products. DCMT was based in Welham Green, Hertfordshire, north of London.

Husky Toys

Husky was a brand name for a line of business die-cast toy vehicles manufactured by Mettoy Playcraft Ltd. of Swansea, Wales, which also made the larger Corgi Toys. Husky Models was re-branded Corgi Juniors in 1970, and a further range called Corgi Rockets was developed to race on track sets.

Playart

Playart was a toy company owned by Hong Kong industrialist Duncan Tong (唐鼎康) that specialized in die-cast cars, similar in size and style to Hot Wheels, Matchbox or Tomica. Cars were well done, but were often diecast seconds from other companies like Yatming or Tomica. Cars were made from 1965 to 1983 at the factory in San Po Kong, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Plastic cars and trucks of 1:43, and 1:24 scale were also made, while trains and other theme toys also appeared.

Tekno - Dansk Legetojs Industri, was a toy maker from Copenhagen, Denmark, that began manufacturing construction toys in 1928 and model autos immediately after World War II, selling 1 million a year during its peak. While begun as a toy company, the focus later shifted to promotional truck models as adult collectibles and the company's headquarters was moved to The Netherlands.

Britains, earlier known by the founder's name W. Britain, is a British toy company known for its diecast lead toy soldiers. The company, however, with its factory in London, also diversified into other associated toys such as diecast zamac military trucks, agriculture and commercial vehicles, and toy cars.

The Hubley Manufacturing Company produced a wide range of cast-iron toys, doorstops, and bookends. Toys, particularly motor vehicles and cap guns, were also produced in zinc alloy and plastic. The company is probably most well known for its detailed scale metal kits of Classic cars in about 1:20 scale. Starting in 1960, Hubley participated for a couple of years with Detroit automakers as a plastic promotional model maker. Many Hubley toys are now sought-after collectibles.

Stahlberg was a Finnish company producing promotional plastic model cars mainly of Swedish Saab and Volvo automobiles usually in scales between 1:18 and 1:25. Stahlberg mainly molded cars from the 1960s to about 1992, though its modern counterpart, Emek continues to make truck models.

The Barclay Manufacturing Company was an American metal toy company based in New Jersey that specialised in diecast toy cars and hollowcast toy soldiers. Due to their common availability at five and dime stores, collectors often refer to Barclay's toy soldiers as "Dimestore soldiers".

Polistil was a toy company headquartered in Milan, Italy, with production center in Chiari, near Brescia. Polistil specialized in diecast metal and plastic vehicles of all sizes. The company also made toy and model tanks, dolls, robots and TV tie-ins. After a 33-year span, and a collaboration with Tonka, Polistil went out of business in 1993, but now is a brand under the May Cheong (Maisto) Group, along with the name of former competitor Bburago. Traditionally, the principal Italian competitors to Polistil were Mercury, Mebetoys, and the shorter run Ediltoys.

Gama Toys

Gama is a German maker of toys, usually cars and trucks, dating from before World War I. The company is headquartered in Fürth, Bavaria, near Nürnberg, a traditional German toymaking center. Other German companies that competed with Gama Toys were Schuco Modell and Conrad Models.

Cursor Models

Cursor Modell was a German company making models of antique and modern German vehicles. It is best known for its plastic replicas of vehicles mainly of the era 1880 to about 1920, produced for, and sold in, the Daimler-Benz museum in Stuttgart.

Kaden models

Kaden Nachod is the somewhat anglicized name for the Kovodružstvo Náchod toy factory in the town of Nový Hrádek in the Czech Republic. The factory, however, started making toys about 1950 when the country was still communist united Czechoslovakia.

Gamda Koor, also known as Sabra was an Israeli diecast toy company that specialized in 1:43 scale cars. Most of these seem to have been original offerings, not seen elsewhere and not secondary tooling. The toy company Cragstan marketed Gamda Sabras as "Detroit Sr." for the American Market.

Fun-Ho! Toys were a brand of diecast toy cars and trucks manufactured and distributed by Underwood Engineering Co. Ltd. of Inglewood, New Zealand. Production was started by Jack Underwood about 1935 and continued until 1982. Since this time reproductions have been made also in Inglewood (Taranaki) at the Fun Ho! Toys Museum. Currently toys are occasionally cast as museum memorabilia using original molding plates and boxes. The name was always portrayed with the exclamation following Fun Ho!

Mercury (toy manufacturer)

Mercury is a brand of diecast toy cars manufactured in Italy from about 1945 through the 1970s. Along with Dinky Toys in England, Mercury was a pioneer in 1:43 scale diecast toys made in Europe. Today, Mercury models are rather rare and not easy to find. The company logo was the word Mercury within a rectangle with a round toothed gear behind the company name.

References

Footnotes