Ideal Toy Company

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Ideal Toy Company
Fate Merger with Mattel
Successor View-Master Ideal
Founded 1907
Founders Morris and Rose Michtom
Defunct 1997
Headquarters originally Hollis, Queens; then New Jersey, United States
Key people
Abraham Katz, 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

Corporate history[edit]

Morris and Rose Michtom founded the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company in Brooklyn when they invented the Teddy bear in 1903.[3][4] After Michtom's death in 1938, the company changed its name to the Ideal Toy Company,[citation needed] and Michtom's nephew Abraham Katz became chief executive.

During World War II, the company's value rose from $2 million to $11 million.[5] 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.[citation needed]

Key Ideal employees during the 1950s, '60s, and '70s were Lionel A. Weintraub and Joseph C. Winkler. Weintraub, the son-in-law of Abraham Katz, 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.[6]

In 1951, Ideal partnered with competitors the American Character Doll Company and the Alexander Doll Company to establish the United States-Israeli Toy and Plastic Corporation, designed to produce material for toys in Israel and the U.S. Ideal CEO Abraham Katz was named president of the new company.[7]

In 1968, the American Character Doll Company filed for bankruptcy, and Ideal acquired the defunct company's dyes, patents, and trademarks,[8] as well as specific products like the "Tressy" Gro-Hair doll.

In late 1971, Ideal joined the New York Stock Exchange; valued at $71 million, it was one of the U.S.'s top three toy companies.[5]

By 1970, Ideal had outgrown its manufacturing complex in Hollis, Queens. The company wanted to build a new plant in College Point, Queens (later the site of Shea Stadium), but was unable to strike a deal with the Lindsay administration. Consequently, the company opened a new facility in Newark, New Jersey, in the early 1970s, while continuing to operate its factory in Hollis.[3][9][10]

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.)[6] 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.[11]

In May 1981, Joseph Winkler was named Ideal's president, succeeding Lionel Weintraub, who remained chairman and CEO.[6]

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.[3]

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.[12] The Ideal line remained part of Tyco until Tyco’s merger with Mattel, Inc., in 1997.

Ideal's United Kingdom assets were sold to Hasbro, which has since released Mouse Trap and KerPlunk under its MB Games brand. Other toys that originated with Ideal continue to be marketed and sold by other companies, including Rubik's Cube by Hasbro and Magic 8-ball by Mattel.

The Ideal brand was revived by Plaza Toys on its Fiddlestix building sticks products, but by January 2011 was a Poof-Slinky brand.[13]

Products history[edit]

Ideal began making dolls in 1907 to complement its line of teddy bears. Their first doll was “Yellow Kid” from Richard Felton Outcault's comic strip of the same name. After that Ideal 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]

Understanding branding well, Ideal had a boy doll launched in 1914 named the Uneeda Kid, after a biscuit company.

One of Ideal's most lasting products was Betsy Wetsy, introduced in 1934 and in production for more than 50 years. The doll was named after the daughter of Abraham Katz, the head of the company.[2] Ideal, via the Betsy Wetsy doll, was also one of the first doll manufacturers to produce an African American version of a popular doll.[14] 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.[15]

Debuting in 1934, the Shirley Temple doll was their best-selling doll. Ideal follow up with licensed Disney dolls and a Judy Garland doll.[4]

Two cosmetics-based doll series were launched after World War II: Toni was introduced at the end of the 1940s, followed by the 1950s-dominating Miss Revlon series.[4]

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.[5]

Doll designer Judith Albert worked for Ideal Toy Company from 1960–1982.[1] Master sculptor Vincent J. DeFilippo spent 27 years creating dolls for 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 Knievel toys, Snoopy toys, and the Tuesday Taylor and Wake-up Thumbelina dolls.[16]

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.[17][18]

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)
  • Captain Action
  • 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 in 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 c Izen, Judith. Collector's Guide to Ideal Dolls: Identification and Value Guide, 3rd Edition. Collector's Books, 2005
  3. ^ a b c "Ideal Toy Corp. Moving Queens Offices to Jersey," New York Times (May 14, 1982).
  4. ^ a b c "Ideal Toy Company Dolls". Collectors Weekly. Market Street Media LLC. Retrieved January 22, 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c Sloan, Leonard. "Ideal Toy's Weintraub Tries to Create Fun Potential," New York Times (Oct. 24, 1971).
  6. ^ a b c Sloane, Leonard. "Business People: Ideal Toy Gets A New President," New York Times (May 27, 1981).
  7. ^ "PLANT IN TEL AVIV TO MAKE PLASTICS: New $1,000,000 Concern Plans Range of Products From Toys to Building Items To Make Plastic Parts," New York Times (November 8, 1951), p. 49.
  8. ^ a b "American Character Dolls 1919-1968," DollReference.com. Accessed Dec. 26, 2014.
  9. ^ Lissner, Will (August 13, 1970). "38-Acre Newark Meadow Site Sold for $8-Million Toy Plant". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 June 2016. 
  10. ^ Sterne, Michael (November 17, 1976). "Toy Makers Battling Toward a Record Year". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 June 2016. 
  11. ^ Roman, Mark. "Other Business; Rubik's Cube: Ideal Toy Takes on the Knock-Offs," New York Times (Oct. 4, 1981).
  12. ^ Reuters. "COMPANY NEWS; Tyco to Acquire View-Master Ideal," New York Times (May 24, 1989).
  13. ^ Pollard, Garland (January 21, 2011). "Fiddlestix: The Ideal Toys Brand Resurfaces". BrandlandUSA. Brand Conservancy LLC. Retrieved January 22, 2016. 
  14. ^ Waggoner, Susan. Under the Tree: the Toys and Treats That Made Christmas Special, 1930-1970. Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2007.
  15. ^ "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 
  16. ^ a b Hollie, Pamela G. Assault by Knieval Halts Boom in Ideal's Daredevil Toy Sales," New York Times (Dec. 9, 1977).
  17. ^ Daintith, John (1994). A Biographical Encyclopedia of Scientists. Bristol: Institute of Physics Pub. p. 771. ISBN 0-7503-0287-9.
  18. ^ "Rubik's Cube: A Craze Ends," New York Times (Oct. 30, 1982).
  19. ^ a b c d e Now manufactured by Poof-Slinky, Inc
  20. ^ Coopee, Todd. "Careful from Ideal 1967". ToyTales.ca. 
  21. ^ Amazon.com: Ideal Toys Gaylord The Pup: Toys & Games
  22. ^ Top Vintage Toy Favorites - 1950s 1960s 1970s
  23. ^ Coopee, Todd. "Tiger Island". ToyTales.ca. 
  24. ^ Coopee, Todd. "Video Varmints from Ideal 1983". ToyTales.ca. 
  25. ^ Large 1970s Ideal Inflatable Walt Disney Toy Donald Duck Blow-Up Toy - In Original, Unopened Packaging - 01243
  26. ^ Coopee, Todd. "Tip-It from Ideal (1965)". ToyTales.ca.