Schaper Toys

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Schaper Toys
IndustryToy manufacturer
FounderWilliam Herbert Schaper
FateAcquired by Tyco Toys in 1986
Ants in the Pants
Don't Break the Ice
Original Cootie box cover, 1949

Schaper Toys, or W.H. Schaper Mfg. Co., Inc. as it was originally known, was a game and toy company founded in 1949 by William Herbert Schaper in Robbinsdale, Minnesota. "Herb" Schaper published a variety of games but was best known for having created the children's game, Cootie. Through the 1970s and 1980s, the company operated as Schaper Toys, a subsidiary of Kusan Inc. In 1986, Schaper Toys was acquired by Tyco Toys. Cootie was the company's bestseller.


William Herbert "Herb" Schaper was a Minnesota postman who created, developed, and manufactured a children's game known as Cootie.[1] After whittling a fishing lure in 1948, he molded the object in plastic, fashioned a game around it, and formed the H. W. Schaper Mfg. Co., Inc. to manufacture and publish the game. In the fall of 1949, the game was launched on the market,[1] and sold through Dayton's department stores.[2] Schaper sold 5,000 Cootie games by 1950, and over 1.2 million games by 1952.[2][3]

Schaper Toys manufactured a host other games including the well-known Ants in the Pants and Don't Break the Ice.[1][2] While most children's games of the period were made of paper and cardboard, Schaper Toys was one of the first toy and game manufacturers to extensively use plastic in its products. Schaper games were constructed almost completely of plastic.

The company introduced Stompers, a battery-powered line of toy trucks and other vehicles in 1980.

In the early 1980s, Schaper became one of the licensed producers of Playmobil in the United States. A large deal with McDonald's to promote Playmobil by distributing figures in Happy Meals ended badly when the toys were found to violate American child safety regulations.[4]

Schaper Manufacturing operated as the Schaper Toy division of Kusan Inc. in the 1970s and 1980s.[5] In 1986, Schaper Toys was acquired by Tyco Toys, which is now a division of Mattel Inc. In the deal, Tyco sold the rights to four Schaper games including Cootie to Hasbro's Milton Bradley division.[6][7] Cootie is manufactured and sold today through Milton Bradley with legs featuring in-line skates, sneakers, and other fanciful accessories.[2]


Schaper Christmas ad, ca. 1952

Big Mouth[edit]

Big Mouth (1968) is a game for 2 to 4 players. Each player is given a giant fork, a green insect, and a paper plate that contains 6 different plastic food items (bananas, carrots, grapes, lemons, pineapples, strawberries). The players take turns using a spinner. If a spin yields a food item, all players attempt to be the first to feed that item to a cardboard clown using an oversized fork. The insect acts as a wildcard. The losers return the food to their plates after each round. The goal is to be the first player to feed all the food on their plate to the cardboard clown.[8]

Clean Sweep[edit]

Clean Sweep (1967) is a game for 2, 3, or 4 players. The object is to "collect as much 'good' litter (scattered trash) as possible and at the same time avoid collecting any of the 'bad' litter."[9]

Don't Blow Your Top[edit]

Don't Blow your Top (1972).[10]


Dunce (1955) is a game for two to four players. Its object is to avoid being the first player to complete a plastic figurine of a boy wearing a dunce cap. Components consist of a stool, a body, a head, a dunce cap and a die. The plastic parts are acquired at the roll of the die beginning with the stool and ending with the cap. The player who completes his figurine first is the loser.[11]

King of the Hill[edit]

"King of the Hill" (1963) is a game for two to four players. Each player selects a different colored marble to represent them as they climb the mountain. Instead of using a traditional spinner or die roll to control movement, players use a “tilt-score” that indicates the number of moves up the mountain that can be made in one turn. The first player to the top of the mountain wins.[12]

Li'l Stinker[edit]

Li'l Stinker (1956) is a game for any number of players ages 4 to 8. The game is similar in concept and play to Old Maid. Components consist of 41 plastic tiles depicting a variety of characters with one tile picturing a skunk. Tiles are paired and discarded until one player loses the game by holding the skunk.[13]

Puzzling Pyramid[edit]

Puzzling Pyramid (1960) is a game for 2, 3 or 4 players of all ages. The object of the game is for each player to use a magnetic exploring wand to guide a steel ball up one of the four colored (yellow, red, green, blue) sides of a pyramid into a common treasure vault at the top. On the inside of each side of the pyramid, plastic tunnel blocks are placed by an opposing player before the start of the game, which are designed to impede the wand user's progress to the top, however at least one open path must be provided.[14]


Shake (1950) is a game of chance for two to four players ages 8 to adult. The object of the games is to complete a row of six numbers in the same line; either straight across, up and down, or diagonal from corner to corner. Components consist of a plastic board, chips, and dice.[15]

Stadium Checkers[edit]

Stadium Checkers (1952) is a race game for two to four players ages 8 to adult. The object of the game is to move one's five colored marbles from the outer rim of the 'stadium' to a slot in the center of the board.[16] In 2004, the game was republished as Roller Bowl by Winning Moves Games USA. Its original name was restored in 2007.

Tickle Bee[edit]

Tickle Bee (1956) is a physical skill game for one player ages 3 and up. Components consist of a molded plastic maze covered with a clear plastic film, a metal "bee" confined within the maze, and a magnetic wand. The game is won when the bee is guided through the maze without touching the tip of the wand.[17]


  1. ^ a b c Heenpin History Museum: Objects:Dolls & Toys. Retrieved October 31, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d Walsh, Tim (2005). Timeless Toys: Classic Toys and the Playmakers Who Created Them. Andrews McMeel Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7407-5571-2.
  3. ^ Levi, Paul (November 28, 1998). "Can't shake this bug". Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Archived from the original on October 22, 2012.
  4. ^ "Collectobil - The Schaper license (USA)". Retrieved October 6, 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Crowley,Ellen T. and Donna J. Wood. Trade Names Dictionary. Gale Research, 1974. ISBN 978-0-8103-0696-7.
  6. ^ "Hasbro has Cooties, but doesn't seem to mind". The Chicago Sun-Times. September 26, 1986. Archived from the original on October 22, 2012. Retrieved November 1, 2008. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ Orbanes, Philip (2004). The Game Makers: The Story of Parker Brothers from Tiddledy Winks to Trivial Pursuit. Harvard Business Press. ISBN 1-59139-269-1. Retrieved October 6, 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ Coopee, Todd. "Big Mouth Game".
  9. ^ Clean Sweep Board Game #600, 1967 Schaper. November 2, 2014. Retrieved October 6, 2015 – via YouTube. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Don't Blow Your Top Game #430, 1972 Schaper. July 13, 2014. Retrieved October 6, 2015 – via YouTube. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ Dunce: How to Play. Schaper, 1955.
  12. ^ Coopee, Todd. "King of the Hill".
  13. ^ Li'l Stinker: How to Play. Schaper, 1956.
  14. ^ Puzzling Pyramid: How to Play. Schaper, 1960.
  15. ^ Shake: How to Play. Schaper, 1950.
  16. ^ Chertoff, Nina and Susan Kahn. Celebrating Board Games. Sterling Publishing, 2006. p. 42.
  17. ^ Tickle Bee: How to Play. Schaper, 1956.

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