Ideal Toy Company

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Ideal Toy Company
Fate Merger with Mattel
Successors View-Master Ideal
Founded 1907
Founders Morris and Rose Michtom
Defunct 1997
Headquarters originally Hollis, Queens; then New Jersey, United States
Key people Lionel A. Weintraub, Joseph C. Winkler
Products dolls, teddy bears, toys, board games, Rubik's Cube

Ideal Toy Company was an American toy company founded by Morris and Rose Michtom. During the post–World War II baby boom era, Ideal became the largest doll-making company in the United States. Their most popular dolls included Betsy Wetsy,[1] Toni, Saucy Walker, Shirley Temple, Miss Revlon, Patti Playpal, Tammy, Thumbelina, Tiny Thumbelina, and Crissy.[2] Their last big hit was the Rubik's Cube.

History[edit]

Original Ideal logo, 1938

The Michtoms founded the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company in Hollis, Queens, in 1907 after they had invented the Teddy bear in 1902.[3]

Corporate history[edit]

After Michtom's death in 1938, the company changed its name to the Ideal Toy Company.

During World War II, the company's value rose from $2 million to $11 million.[4]

The company's dolls were so popular during the post–World War II baby boom era, they began selling dolls under license in Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Brazil.

Key members of Ideal during the 1950s, '60s, and '70s were Lionel A. Weintraub and Joseph C. Winkler. Weintraub, the son-in-law of Michtom's nephew, joined the company in 1941 and rose to become president, chairman of the board, and chief executive officer. Winkler joined Ideal in 1956, rising to vice president by 1971.[5]

In 1968, Ideal's competitor the American Character Doll Company filed for bankruptcy, and Ideal acquired the defunct company's dyes, patents, and trademarks.[6]

In late 1971, the company joined the New York Stock Exchange; valued at $71 million, it was one of the U.S.'s top three toy companies.[4]

Ideal moved wanted to build a large manufacturing plant in College Point, Queens (later the site of Shea Stadium), but was unable to strike a deal with the Lindsay administration. Consequently, in 1972 the company moved its manufacturing division from New York City to New Jersey.[7]

Ideal had earnings of $3.7 million in fiscal year 1979-1980, but lost $15.5 million in fiscal year 1980-1981. (Sales both years averaged c. $150 million.)[5] Trying to maximize profits on the Rubik's Cube craze, in May 1981 Ideal filed civil suits against dozens of distributors and retailers selling knockoff cubes.[8]

In May 1981, Joseph Winkler was named Ideal's president, succeeding Lionel Weintraub, who remained chairman and CEO.[5]

In 1982, the company moved its headquarters from Hollis, Queens to Harmon Meadow, New Jersey. It was sold to CBS Toys later that year for c. $58 million.[7]

In 1987, CBS sold Ideal to Viewmaster International, which renamed itself View-Master Ideal in the process.

In 1989 View-Master Ideal was bought by Tyco Toys of Mt. Laurel, New Jersey for $43.9 million.[9] The Ideal line remained part of Tyco until Tyco’s merger with Mattel, Inc., in 1997. The UK assets were sold to Hasbro (which has released Mouse Trap and KerPlunk under its MB Games brand).

Certain brands and toys that originated with Ideal continued to be manufactured by others, including Rubik's Cube by Hasbro and Magic 8-ball by Mattel.

Products history[edit]

Ideal began making dolls in 1907. Their first doll was “Yellow Kid” from the “The Yellow Kid” comic strip by Richard Felton Outcault. After that they began making a line of baby and character dolls such as Naughty Marietta, from the Victor Herbert operetta, and Admiral Dot. Ideal advertised their dolls as "unbreakable," since they were made of composition, a material made of sawdust and glue. Ideal produced over 200 variations of dolls throughout the composition era.[2]

One of Ideal's most lasting products was Betsy Wetsy, introduced in 1934 and in production for more than 50 years. Ideal, via the Betsy Wetsy doll, was also one of the first doll manufacturers to produce an African American version of a popular doll.[10] In 2003, the Toy Industry Association named Betsy Wetsy to its Century of Toys List, a compilation commemorating the 100 most memorable and most creative toys of the 20th century.[11]

Ideal had a hobby division in the 1950s, but shifted from that to games in 1962. By the early 1970s, 30% of the company's sales were games such as Mouse Trap and Hands Down.[4]

Doll designer Judith Albert worked for Ideal Toy Company from 1960–1982.[1] Master sculptor Vincent J. DeFilippo spent 27 years creating dolls for the Ideal from 1963–1980. Some of the company's most popular dolls during this period were Tammy (1962–1966) Flatsy dolls (1969–1973), Crissy (1969–1974), and Tressy (1970–1972).

Popular Ideal toys in the 1970s included a full line of Evel Knieval toys, Snoopy toys, and the Tuesday Taylor and Wake-up Thumbelina dolls.[12]

For a short time, the company had a huge seller with the Magic Cube, which it imported from Hungary in 1980 and renamed Rubik's Cube.[13][14]

Novelties and toys manufactured by Ideal[edit]

Toys and Games[edit]

Board games[edit]

Dolls[edit]

DeFilippo Dolls[edit]

Other Ideal dolls[edit]

  • Bibsy — 23" baby doll (1960s and 1970s)
  • Bye Bye Baby (1960s)
  • Cream Puff Baby (1950s)
  • Crissy — fashion doll with growing hair feature
  • Crown Princess— 10" vinyl glamour doll
  • Deanna Durbin
  • Dick Tracy — including Bonnie Braids and Sparkle Plenty
  • Flatsy dolls — flat vinyl dolls in two sizes: tall "model" dolls and smaller childlike dolls; many had blue, pink and other bright hair colors; came is picture frame packaging
  • Flexy — composition head and hands, wooden body and feet, and posable tubular wire mesh arms and legs
  • Flossie Flirt — composition (1920s and 1930s)
  • Hugee Girl baby dolls (1950s)
  • Harmony
  • Jane Withers
  • Jelly Belly
  • Judy Garland — part of publicity for original theatrical release of The Wizard of Oz (1939/1940)
  • Kissy doll
  • Little Lost Baby — three faces: happy, sad, sleeping, also with sounds; "I'm Little Lost Baby. You can make me happy!" (1968)
  • Little Miss Revlon — 10" vinyl glamour doll, advertising tie-in with Revlon cosmetics
  • Lolly doll
  • Magic Lips
  • Mama doll
  • Petite Princess Fantasy — dollhouse furniture
  • Playpal dolls: Patti, Penny, Suzi, Bonnie, Johnny, Peter, Daddy's Girl
  • Playtex Dryper Baby
  • Princess Patti Fantasy — dollhouse furniture
  • Sara Ann
  • Saucy Walker
  • Shirley Temple
  • Snookie dolls (Pete & Repete)
  • Tammy
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1986)
  • Thirsty Baby doll (1960s)
  • Thumbelina
  • Toni — hard plastic doll, advertising tie-in with Toni Home Permanent
  • Tressy — one of the Gro-Hair dolls
  • Uneeda Kid — early composition doll, advertising tie-in with Uneeda Biscuit Co.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Hays, Constance L. "Judith Albert, 59, Toy Designer Whose Doll Led to Buyer Frenzy," New York Times (Aug. 1, 1998).
  2. ^ a b Izen, Judith. Collector's Guide to Ideal Dolls: Identification and Value Guide, 3rd Edition. Collector's Books, 2005
  3. ^ True story of the Teddy Bear by The Theodore Roosevelt Association. Theodoreroosevelt.org. Retrieved on 2011-10-01.
  4. ^ a b c Sloan, Leonard. "Ideal Toy's Weintraub Tries to Create Fun Potential," New York Times (Oct. 24, 1971).
  5. ^ a b c Sloane, Leonard. "Business People: Ideal Toy Gets A New President," New York Times (May 27, 1981).
  6. ^ "American Character Dolls 1919-1968," DollReference.com. Accessed Dec. 26, 2014.
  7. ^ a b "Ideal Toy Corp. Moving Queens Offices to Jersey," New York Times (May 14, 1982).
  8. ^ Roman, Mark. "Other Business; Rubik's Cube: Ideal Toy Takes on the Knock-Offs," New York Times (Oct. 4, 1981).
  9. ^ Reuters. "COMPANY NEWS; Tyco to Acquire View-Master Ideal," New York Times (May 24, 1989).
  10. ^ Waggoner, Susan. Under the Tree: the Toys and Treats That Made Christmas Special, 1930-1970. Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2007.
  11. ^ "Toy Industry Association Announces Its Century of Toys List", Business Wire, 21 January 2003, archived from the original on 19 March 2008, retrieved 31 October 2008 
  12. ^ a b Hollie, Pamela G. Assault by Knieval Halts Boom in Ideal's Daredevil Toy Sales," New York Times (Dec. 9, 1977).
  13. ^ Daintith, John (1994). A Biographical Encyclopedia of Scientists. Bristol: Institute of Physics Pub. p. 771. ISBN 0-7503-0287-9.
  14. ^ "Rubik's Cube: A Craze Ends," New York Times (Oct. 30, 1982).
  15. ^ a b c d e Now manufactured by Poof-Slinky, Inc
  16. ^ Amazon.com: Ideal Toys Gaylord The Pup: Toys & Games
  17. ^ Top Vintage Toy Favorites - 1950s 1960s 1970s
  18. ^ Large 1970s Ideal Inflatable Walt Disney Toy Donald Duck Blow-Up Toy - In Original, Unopened Packaging - 01243
  19. ^ "American Character Dolls 1919-1968," DollReference.com. Accessed Dec. 26, 2014.