On the Great Man, Himself – The One, The Only, Marvin Glass

I just finished reading an article about him. Having worked in his studio after his death in the mid 70’s, and never having had the opportunity to meet him, I am always fascinated to learn more about this toy industry genius/legend who ‘invented’ the business of toy invention and licensing.

He wasn’t just the original, the biggest, the best of the toy inventors. He didn’t just make and lose fortunes more than once, and he wasn’t just a legendary paranoid crazy-man. In the article he comes across as one of the modern toy industry’s early intellectuals, with some profound insights into what toys really are.

Marvin glass

On Marvin himself, and quoting from an article in an unknown publication, written by Adriano G. Delfino:

“Although he lives in a world of childish whimsy when he is creating or testing a new product, (Marvin Glass) is a complete man in the field of discourse . . . the words that come out are those of an astute observer of the passing parade – eloquent, philosophical, even sparkling at times.”

From Marvin: “Consider the word toy. As a verb or as a noun, it connotes frivolity, insincerity, caprice, and trivia.“ He wanted to change the public image of toys from unnecessary, childish frivolities, to have them thought of as consumer products performing a needed function.

Toys For Kids Up To 6 Months Old 2
“A toy is–to a child–as much of a consumer product as a washing machine is to a housewife, a typewriter to a secretary, or a rivet gun to a construction worker. It is designed to do a specific job,” he maintained.

He believed that toys need not be overtly ‘educational’ to be educational to the child in human values. Quoting the great man once more: “A toy that requires time to assemble develops patience in a child.” “A toy that requires one or two other players develops in the child an awareness of the need to share both himself and his possessions with those around him.”

And on the subject of laughter, a personal favorite of mine, Marvin Glass says, “Humor is the greatest antidote to self righteousness, intolerance, bigotry, and other hallmarks of fascism, naziism, communism, colonialism, and all the isms that have plagued mankind.”

I would have enjoyed such a conversation with him. I couldn’t agree more. I have come to exactly those same conclusions over time.

6 thoughts

  1. I found your article when searching for more information on a toy I’ve had sitting around for years. The patent listed on it lists Glass as one of the inventors just a couple years beforehis death. I have never seen another toy like it anywhere- so makes me wonder if it is a prototype as I found it in an abandoned warehouse just outside of chicago.
    ANyway, reading about him has been fascinating to say the least. Thanks!

  2. Hello, my name is Trenton Doyle Hancock, and I’m a painter. I’m heavily influenced by all types of design especially classic toy design. Marvin Glass’s name has been important in my studio for over a decade, but his designs have been part of my life and consciousness since I was a child in the 70s and 80s. Would either of you guys know of any documentary on the importance of this Glass’s contribution to modern design? If not, is there any plan to create one? thanks, Trenton

  3. Thank you Michael, and how do you think the Great man himself would respond to your question? Love to hear more on that subject.
    And thank you Larry, for your insights from both sides of the fence. We have been talking about that subject of presentation energy, etc recently and this adds to our understanding of what works.
    And I would love to hear more on that subject from you if possible.

  4. Great read, Bruce. I had the good fortune of working on both sides of the fence with Marvin Glass. As a manufacturer he would come in with a show business attitude and sweep you off your feet with one hour of “feel goods” while leading you off into the sunset while playing with his wonderful new toy. He would set the stage, have a minstrel sing a song he created about the toy and then the room would go dark and a spotlight would come on and a beautiful girl would demo the item.
    On the other side I was a competitor for years, but I learned how to present a product and to keep the new product we created in “high value” and not give it away. Each toy was a masterpiece and to be cherished. If we were to have an icon/founder for the invention community, he is a perfect fit.

  5. I did have opportunity to meet Marvin a number of times in the early 70’s when I started my career with Hasbro. As a wet behind the ears newbie to toy development, I initially didn’t understand the scope or just how big a giant in toy inventing Marvin was and the impact he created for kids at play with his many hit toys every year.
    Wonder how Marvin would apply his toy philosophy’s in today’s world of giving children Smartphones and I-Pads as play items?

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