Tin Toys; An Appreciation

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Before there was plastic there was tin. It was hard, rusted and could cut. Yet, it could be molded and cut into a variety of shapes and was a great canvas for lithographed, bright colors with alacrity. It's fun to look back at some of the toys that our grand and great grand parents enjoyed.

The Felix the Cat Scooter, was a wind up toy made in Germany by SG Toys (love that tail). Manufactured in the 1920's, it show cased Felix the Cat, a top cartoon character from the pre-Disney era of cartoons. 


Speaking of the Walt Disney Company, the above Mickey and Minnie Motorcycle toy was produced in 1932 by Tippco. Mickey's first appearance was in the 1928 release of "Steamboat Willie" so this was undoubtedly an early licensed toy. 

The penny tin toy battleship seen above was manufactured in the first decade of the 20th century. I did an inflation calculation and found that a penny toy in 1900 is worth 29 cents in 2017 money so it was quite a value.


The first commercial airships began service in 1910. The Lehmann company began producing toy versions shortly thereafter. 

One thought

  1. Those old metal toys are great (that “tin zeppelin” preceded Led Zeppelin by nearly 60 years!). As a toy designer with 30+ years experience and a large toy robot collection, I can attest to the fact that many of these vintage toys are VERY clever mechanically, and are worth studying for new designers. Long before toys had electronics and computers, savvy toy designers made wonderful, engaging toys with only gears, springs, levers, cams & motors and motors. As toy manufacturing costs rise, it’s wise to be aware of alternative ways to make “toy magic” happen. Many ways to skin a cat, and some of the old school ways work just fine.

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