Buddy L

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Buddy L (also known as Buddy "L" or Buddy-L) is an American toy brand and company founded in 1920 as the Buddy L Toy Company in East Moline, Illinois, by Fred Lundahl.[1]


Buddy L toy train, 1920s-30s, Long Island

Buddy "L" toys were originally manufactured by the Moline Pressed Steel Company, which was started by Fred A. Lundahl in 1910.[2] The company originally manufactured automobile fenders and other stamped auto body parts for the automobile industry, instead of toy products.[2] The company primarily supplied parts for the McCormick-Deering line of farm implements and the International Harvester Company for its trucks.[2] Moline Pressed Steel did not begin manufacturing toys until 1921.[2] Mr. Lundhal wanted to make something new, different, and durable for his son Arthur.[2] He designed and produced an all-steel miniature truck, reportedly a model of an International Harvester truck made from 18- and 20-gauge steel which had been discarded to the company's scrap pile.[2]

Buddy L made such products as toy cars, dump trucks, delivery vans, fire engines, construction equipment,[3] and trains.[4] Fred Lundahl used to manufacture for International Harvester trucks.[1] He started by making a toy dump truck out of steel scraps for his son Buddy. Soon after, he started selling Buddy L "toys for boys", made of pressed steel.[1] Many were large enough for a child to straddle, propelling himself with his feet.[1] Others were pull toys. A pioneer in the steel-toy field, Lundahl persuaded Marshall Field's and F. A. O. Schwarz to carry his line. He did very well until the Great Depression, then sold the company.[1]

In 1941, Henry Katz and Company purchased Buddy L from the Molene Manufacturing Company.[5] From 1976 to 1990, Buddy L was owned by Richard Keats, a well-known New York toy designer who went to work for Buddy L the day after he graduated from Brown University in 1948.[1] By 1978, the company was located in Clifton, New Jersey.

In 1990, Keats sold Buddy L to SLM International. SLM sold Buddy L off in 1995 under bankruptcy protection. By 2010, Buddy L was owned by Empire Industries of Boca Raton, Florida,[1] a subsidiary of Empire of Carolina.[6]

In the 1990s, Buddy L made Splatter Up, a wet version of T-ball.[7]

On 31 August 2000, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall for about 113,000 battery-powered children's riding vehicles, marketed as "Power Drivers" or "Buddy L", for repair. The vehicles' battery chargers can overheat, presenting fire and injury hazards to children.[8]

In November 2000, Empire of Carolina and its wholly owned subsidiary, Empire Industries, Inc., filed for bankruptcy and, in July 2001, Empire Industries was sold substantially to Alpha International, Inc,[9] also known as the Gearbox Pedal Car Company, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa[6] (renamed as Gearbox Toys and now owned by J. Lloyd International).


  1. ^ a b c d e f g ANTIQUES; A Fleet Of Boys' Daydreams, Wendy Moonan, The New York Times, 2 March 2001 (retrieved 16 September 2010)
  2. ^ a b c d e f Freed, Joe and Sharon; Collector's Guide to American Transportation Toys, 1895-1941, Freedom Publishing Company, 1995, 424 pages, ISBN 978-0-9646847-0-6 (retrieved 16 September 2010 from Buddy K Toys)
  3. ^ American on the Move | Buddy “L” Toy Steam Shovel, National Museum of American History (retrieved 16 September 2010)
  4. ^ Buddy L Trains, The Train Collectors Association Western Division (retrieved 17 September 2010)
  5. ^ Buddy L Trains, The Train Collectors Association Western Division (retrieved 12 September 2023)
  6. ^ a b About Empire Industries Inc, The Action Figure Archive (retrieved 16 September 2010)
  7. ^ Splatter Up Baseball from Buddy L Archived 2012-03-30 at the Wayback Machine, Shoot the Moon (retrieved 10 February 2012)
  8. ^ CPSC, Empire Industries Announce Recall of Children's Riding Vehicles Archived September 7, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, 31 August 2000 (retrieved 16 September 2010)
  9. ^ "EMPIRE OF CAROLINA INC, Form 8-K, Current Report, Filing Date Jul 3, 2001" (PDF). secdatabase.com. Retrieved May 15, 2018.