Playful Plans's blog

A free-range discussion of wooden playthings, their design, fabrication, history, and dissemination.

Monday Classic: A Plakie Toy

Plakie Toys (Youngstown, OH '40's-50's) included Jumbo the Elephant in several color schemes, including bright yellow! Here's my red example from the collection- a real charmer.

Monday Classic: Tinkerpins: a spectacular Tinkertoy

Most of us know Tinkertoys as the iconic peg-and-spool building sets. The Toy Tinkers company of Evanston, Illinois created many other extraordinary playthings, mostly comprised of wood and steel parts.  

Croquet three ways

Most of us played it during our early years. From the collection, three colorful examples from the 1920’s -1950’s.

Lawn, floor and table croquet sets

Official rules? Nope. Proper attire? Whatever.

Drive an opponent’s ball (called “roqueting”) four houses down into the Carlson’s backyard? Hell yeah.

Monday Classic: TEETER

"A toy with zig-zag automatic action. This self-operating toy will keep a child amused for hours. Watch clowns perform... invert toy to continue performance.


A Multipl-Aktion Toy, patented 1943. Minneapolis, MN"

Playskool Rools

Early Playskool toys (Lucille King’s inspiration in the 1920’s) represent one of the great treasure troves in our modern history of playthings.

Auto... jack... it's Otto Jack!

King- an educator-turned-entrepreneur- incorporated the Playskool Institute in 1928 in Milwaukee, WI and the company soon featured over forty products.

Monday Classic: The Little King

Based on the wonderful comic by Otto Soglow which debuted in The New Yorker in 1931.

This 3-3/4” micro-monarch was manufactured by Jaymar (Marx family) in the mid-40’s during the wartime heyday of wooden toys. Pull and release the string connected to his rubber band-powered wooden spool and away he goes.

A Waldorf Wonder

Here's an early Waldorf pull-toy that is monumental in size, complex in mechanics and captivating in design.

A monkey sits astride a camel atop a four-wheeled base. When the toy is pulled, the rider guides the camel with wire reins while the camel’s head nods as he rolls along, and the illusion is complete.

Monday Classic: A windup mouse

This windup's carved wooden body measures 2-3/4" in length with bright black glass eyes and a string tail; a bit of the original gray flocking remains on the body. The metal mechanism is ingeniously simple with the two sets of legs attached to each other with a wire rod, and then to one of the pair of drive wheels. Note the tiny third wheel behind the drive wheels which can be gently adjusted to direct the mouse's direction of travel.

Toys with a History

A small collection of some importance arrived over the holidays, it's significance due in part to the toys' provenance. They were built by the seller's great-grandfather (b. 1877) for his granddaughter (now 80) and stored away since his passing in 1956. They date to the '30's.

A bingo-type ball cage, hopping kangaroo pull toy, ducky pull toy and stacking rings. While the finishes might not be childsafe by today's standards, these playthings- possibly inspired by project magazines of the time- exemplify workshop craft and loving attention to detail.

Wonderful Wood 2: wiggly critters

Three creatures from my collection: Betty the butterfly, Bill the beetle and Tim the turtle.

I'd like to know these pull toy's provenance, but I don't… any help identifying the manufacturer would be very much appreciated.

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