Lionel Kiddie City

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Lionel Kiddie City
Public Company
Founded1960s (New York, New York, USA)
HeadquartersEdison Township, New Jersey
Key people
Joshua Lionel Cowen
Harry C. Grant
Roy Cohn
Michael J. Vastola
OwnerLionel Corp.

Lionel Kiddie City was an American Toy store under the ownership of Lionel Corp.. Kiddie City Toy Stores were started in the 1960s. By the early 1980s, Lionel operated 150 stores, under the names Lionel Kiddie City, Lionel Playworld, and Lionel Toy Warehouse. For a time it was the second-largest toy store chain in the United States. Lionel ran into financial trouble during the early 1980s recession and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February 1982. After reducing itself in size to 55 stores, it emerged from bankruptcy in September 1985.

By 1991, the chain grew to 100 stores and was the fourth-largest toy retailer in the country, but once again ran into trouble due to a combination of factors. In 1989 the Robert I. Toussie L.P., a partnership of several retail executives, attempted to buy the company. Lionel resisted, and the fight drained the company of cash. Meanwhile, non-specialty discount stores expanded their toy sections and undercut the prices of specialty toy chains. Additionally, Lionel found it difficult to compete on price with the larger Toys "R" Us, and the chain attempted to expand too rapidly in a weakened economy. After several successive unprofitable quarters, it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on June 14, 1991. In 1992 Lionel attempted to reverse its fortunes by merging with the bankrupt Child World, the United States' #3 toy retailer, but was unable to secure financing. By February 1993 Lionel had closed all but 29 stores in six states, concentrating on the markets of Philadelphia, central New Jersey, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Cleveland, Ohio and south Florida. Unable to reach an agreement for reorganization with its creditors, on June 2, 1993, Lionel announced its intention to liquidate all of its stores and go out of business.

The Lionel trademarks were purchased by Richard Kughn, a Detroit real estate magnate who had bought the Lionel product line from General Mills in 1986.


  • When you’re searching for something for your little girls or boys,
    And you’re finding high prices, but not finding toys...
    And you’re sad and you’re blue and you’re tired of running around,
    Let Lionel (Kiddie City/PlayWorld) turn that frown... upside down!
    (Upside down!) They’ve got selection...
    (Upside down!) low prices, too...
    Lionel (Kiddie City/Playworld) makes it easy for you!
    Their prices and selection are among the best around...
    Let Lionel (Kiddie City/Playworld) turn that frown... upside down!
  • Toy capital of the world!
  • Playworld, A World of Toys, Great for Girls and Great for Boys, Playworld, Where Prices Go, So Low Low Low, Low.


  • "Lionel closing 27 stores in struggle for survival - Lionel Kiddie City". Discount Store News. February 1, 1993. Archived from the original on May 15, 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-22. - Lionel Corp., operator of Lionel Kiddie City, will close 27 more stores and two distribution centers in struggle for survival.