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Doepke Model Toys have delighted kids for decades and are now the envy of toy collectors everywhere. Based near Cincinnati, Ohio, Doepke (pron. "dep key") made several different types of toys ranging from model automobiles such as the MG, 1955 Jaguar, a fire engine, trains (big enough to ride on) and construction vehicles including bulldozers, graders, loaders, earth movers, and cranes. The toys are noted for their remarkable realism.
In 1946, Charles W. Doepke with his assistant and brother Fredrick started the Doepke Toy Company in Oakley, Ohio, a neighborhood in Cincinnati. In 1950 production was moved to Rossmoyne, Ohio. Being so soon after the conclusion of World War II, many toys available at the time reflected a war theme. In contrast to this trend, the Doepkes were encouraged by their grandmother to create toys that were not war-related. Since both men had previously worked in the steel industry, they were quite aware of the possibilities and were adamant about creating exact duplicates of then modern construction equipment and cars.
The popularity of Doepke toys among children in the 1950s was likely bolstered by their uncanny realism. Yet, this appeal was not necessarily limited to children. On many occasions, salesmen would carry Doepke toys with them to help with sales. "In one instance a model made by Doepke actually worked out a production flaw in its much larger relative." Said, the daughter of Charles Doepke in an interview.
One of Doepke’s best selling items was its steel crane, first manufactured in 1949. It was one of the most popular pressed steel construction toys ever made. It was rugged enough to survive the rigors of outdoor use and had realistic details like rubber Goodyear tires. The toy had two functional hand crank hoists, accurate rigging, a stamped steel open lattice boom and a working clamshell bucket used for excavating. The toy was priced at $14.95.
In 1959, due to an increase in lower cost competitors and a rise in steel costs coupled with the companies inability to create the same realism with wood toys, Doepke was forced to shut down.
Today, there are many collectors of Doepke toys and the models are routinely offered for sale in online forums such as EBay.
- Doepke Blog (http://doepke.wordpress.com/) Retrieved 6-17-11.
- McElwee, Neil and Lois, McElwee's #4 Guide to Doepke Model Toys, 1995.
- Deopke Yardbird Train Catalog, The Chas. Wm. Doepke Mfg. Co., Rossmoyne, OH, 1957.
- "About Doepke Toys" TNT Toy Trucks Web site (http://www.tnttoytrucks.com/Doepke.html) Retrieved 6-17-11.
- Doepke Toys Blog (http://www.doepketoy.com/?tag=doepke-unit-crane) Retrieved 6-17-11.
- Atkinson, Wade, Two Feet from the Third Rail: Being a Compendium of Thoughts, Ideas, Advice, Castigations, and Memiors on 50 Years in Public Relations, 1994.