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Toy Trivia

by Toy Maker or Name

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  • After leaving Atari, Nolan Bushnell went on to start Chuck E. Cheese Pizza.
  • Atari was founded on a $250 investment by Nolan Bushnell.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio is set to star as the creator of Atari, Nolan Bushnell, in a new flick entitled Atari.
  • The first video arcade game was Pong, introduced by Atari in 1972.
  • The instructions for the game Pong are “Avoid missing ball for high score.”
  • The US version of Impossible Mission for the Atari 7800 really is impossible due to a programming bug.

Binney & Smith

Crayons- Crayola

  • The average child in the United States will wear down 730 crayons by their 10th birthday.
  • Binney & Smith, maker of Crayola Crayons, produces an average of five million crayons daily and 2 billion crayons each year. If they made just one large crayon, it would be 35 feet wide and 400 feet long.
  • According to a Yale University study, Crayola crayons rank 18th among the 20 most recognizable scents to American adults. Coffee and peanut butter are first and second.
  • Children ages 2 to 8 spend an average of 28 minutes each day coloring. All the kids in the U.S. spend a combined total of 6.3 billion hours on coloring annually.

Silly Putty

  • Binney & Smith produces more than 1,500 pounds of Silly Putty each day — that’s more than 20,000 eggs.
  • Silly Putty went to the moon on Apollo 8. The astronauts used it to relieve boredom and to stabilize their tools during the zero-g periods.
  • According to a Yale University study, Crayola crayons rank 18th among the 20 most recognizable scents to American adults. Coffee and peanut butter are first and second.
  • Silly Putty will dissolve when in contact with an alcohol.
  • Silly Putty is flammable. When lit, the flame is a very bright white but burns slowly.
  • When Silly Putty is microwaved for about 3 minutes, it becomes very sticky.


Connect Four

  • In Connect Four, the player who goes first can win 100% of the time.
  • A traditional Connect Four board has 4,531,985,219,092 possible positions.


  • Opposite sides of a six-sided die add up to 7.
  • The spots on dice are called ‘pips’.


  • The spots on dominoes are called ‘pips’.

Duncan Toy Company


  • The yo-yo is believed to be the second-oldest toy in the world. The name yo-yo comes from a Filipino expression meaning “come come”.
  • In 1985, Astronaut David Griggs used a Duncan Imperial Yo-yo on live TV from the deck of the Space Shuttle.
  • Three U.S. presidents, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, have publicly played with the yo-yo.
  • Political activist Abbie Hoffman once “walked the dog” during a Congressional hearing, an action that earned him a citation for contempt.
  • Stone yo-yos more than 3,000 years old have been found in Greece.






  • Hasbro introduced a toy in 1962 called “Flubber” (tied to the movie “Son of Flubber”). It was made from synthetic rubber and mineral oil. Unfortunately, it made people sick. More than 1600 people developed sore throats, rashes and other reactions from contact with the stuff and Hasbro had to recall it. To get rid of it, they buried it and put a parking lot over it. According to legend, on hot summer days Flubber would ooze through the cracks in the pavement.
  • Hasbro was founded in 1923 in Providence, RI and sold textile remnants and later manufactured pencil boxes covered with them.

Clue (see Parker Brothers)

G.I. Joe

  • In 1964, Hasbro introduced an 11 1/2-inch doll called G.I. JOE, with 21 movable parts to “move G.I.JOE into action positions”…”America’s Movable Fighting Man”….’fighting man from head to toe…on the land…on the sea…in the air…’ First-year sales for the doll and his equipment reached $10 million.
  • All G.I. Joe 12-inch action figures have a scar on their right cheek. They also have an inverted thumbnail on the inside of their left thumb in honor of a production error made years ago.
  • G.I. Joe was inspired by a TV show called “The Lieutenant” which was created by Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek.
  • G.I. JOE first appeared in 1942. The cartoonist DAVE GERGER combined G.I. and JOE in his strip for “YANK”.

Monopoly (see Parker Brothers)

Mr. Potato Head

  • The first toy advertised on television was Mr. Potato Head.
  • From 1952 to 1963 parents had to supply real potatoes for the body of Mr. Potato Head, until 1964 when Hasbro introduced a hard plastic body.
  • In 1987 Mr. Potato Head became the “spokespud” for the Great American Smokeout. He gave up his pipe to Surgeon General C. Everett Koop in Washington DC.
  • The Mr. Potato Head family included Mrs. Potato Head, Brother Spud, Sister Yam, Oscar the Orange and Pete the Pepper.
  • Mr. Potato Head didn’t sell at first. Since the war and food rations were still fresh in people’s minds, most thought of using a potato as a toy as wasteful.

Play-Doh (see Rainbow Crafts)


  • The Scrabble© board game was designed by Alfred M. Butts of Poughkeepsie, NY in the 1930s. In order to determine the quantity and value of each letter, he analyzed letter frequencies in the daily newspapers. His calculations have held up through the years, and today’s game is very similar to his original design. There are far fewer S tiles than his calculations would have suggested, because Mr. Butts wanted people to be challenged to think up new words and not just make plurals.
  • According to Forbes Magazine, one out of three homes owns a Scrabble Board.
  • The blank tile beats an A when drawing to see who goes first.

Tinker Toys

  • Tinker toys were invented when Charles Pajeau was watching some kids play with pencils, sticks and empty spools of thread


  • Was not a success until Eva Gabor played it with Johnny Carson on television’s Tonight Show on May 3, 1966.
  • Twister is the first game to use human bodies as playing pieces.
  • When Twister first came out, Milton Bradley was accused by its competitors of selling “sex in a box”.

Yahtzee (see Milton Bradley)

Ideal Toys

Rubik’s Cube

  • Rubik’s Cube has 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 color configurations and only one solution.
  • Ideal Toy Company originally wanted to name it “The Gordian Knot.”
  • The ultimate 1981 collector’s item was a Rubik’s Cube showing Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer.
  • One of the youngest Cube solvers is a seven year old who doesn’t even know how he does it … and he does it often.
  • The toy made inventor Erno Rubik is Hungary’s richest private citizen.

James Industries


  • It takes 63 feet of wire to make a Slinky.
  • Marine engineer Richard James invented The Slinky in 1945 after a torsion spring fell off his desk and tumbled end-over-end across the floor. His wife Betty gave the toy its name.
  • A Slinky when stretched out fully will measure 87 feet.
  • The Slinky can be purchased from every continent of the world except for Antarctica.
  • Slinky is Pennsylvania’s official state toy.
  • Richard James left James Industries, his wife, and his children to join a religious sect in Bolivia.
  • The Slinky jingle is the longest-running jingle in advertising history.




  • The shape of Gumby’s head was inspired by the hair of creator Art Clokey’s father.


  • Kenner started in 1947 making soap and soft-drinks.
  • Two years after the Easy-Bake Oven’s introduction by Kenner, children could make bubble gum with it.

Play-Doh (see Rainbow Crafts)

Learning Curve

Madeline Dolls

  • Every Madeline doll from Learning Curve has the signature appendix scar, just like the one the title character got in her first book.
  • The Madeline books have sold more than 10 million copies to date (2009).


Lego Group


  • The Lego Company is the world’s biggest vehicle tire manufacturer producing 311 million tiny tires in 2001.

Lincoln Logs (see Red Square Toy Company)


Liberty Coaster Company (later called Radio Steel and Manufacturing)

Radio Flyer

  • The red wagon by Radio Flyer is such a classic that its actual shape has been trademarked.
  • Demand for the red wagon by Radio Flyer remained so high even during the Depression that 1,500 wagons were produced each day.

Madam Alexander

  • Jeannie Walker and the Walker doll line, created in 1942 by Madame Alexander, were the first walking dolls.



  • Mattel began in 1945 by producing picture frames and miniature furniture made of polyurethane left over from the manufacturer of airplane nose cones.
  • Cartoon character “Pebbles” Flintstone was born on February 22, 1963. To help celebrate the event, the Mattel toy company manufactured over 250,000 “PEBBLES” dolls, which were among the company’s hottest-selling toys that year.

Baby Skates

  • Every Baby Skates comes with a spare crank handle in a little plastic bag right in the box. There’s a little flap on the instruction booklet entitled, “A LOST OR BROKEN CRANK HANDLE CAN BE A PROBLEM”.
  • Because the original knee pads that came with Baby Skates had a tendency to split and fall off, Mattel made replacement knee pads available free for order via mail. Mattel began placing a self-addressed return card into the Baby Skates boxes for the customer to order the replacements.


  • Barbie’s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts (named for the creator’s daughter).
  • Barbie was introduced in 1959 and cost $3.
  • Every second, two Barbie dolls are sold somewhere in the world, making the total number sold in the billions throughout 140 countries.
  • If Barbie was life-sized, her measurements would be 39-23-33 (in 2004 the average woman in the USA measured 40-34-43).
  • According to studies done by both Yale and Duke Universities, in order for Barbie’s measurements to be “normal” she would have to be at least 7 feet, 4 inches tall.
  • Since 1959, more than 125 million yards of fabric have gone into creating outfits for Barbie and her friends.
  • Early drafts of the original Toy Story (1995) had a Barbie doll in the roll that became Little Bo Peep, but Mattel refused to license the character to Disney. The huge popularity of the movie (and boost in sales for Mr. Potato Head and other featured toys) led them to agree to have Tour Guide Barbie included in Toy Story II.
  • Barbie accounts for 80% of Mattel’s profits, as one of the most successful toy brands of all time.
  • Elliot Handler, who co-founded Mattel back in 1945 had two children called Barbie and Ken.

Creepy Crawlers

  • It would take a platoon of National Guard soldiers four years to stamp out all the bugs included in Creepy Crawler sets to date.

Hot Wheels

  • In 1968, the Hot Wheels Corvette, a reproduction of the real one, was on store shelves before Chevrolet had their new ’68 model at car dealers.

View Master (see Sawyer’s Photo Service)


Milton Bradley


  • It was natural for game creator Leslie Scott to name her stacking game Jenga, after the Swahili word for “to build” since Swahili was her first language.


  • A husband and wife created the game of Yahtzee while on their yacht, thus the name “Yahtzee.”
  • The maximum score attainable is 1,575-points overall. This would require thirteen Yahtzee rolls, nine of which would have to be of a specific face (aces to sixes in the Upper Section and 30, which is five sixes, as Three-of-a-kind, Four-of-a-kind, and Chance). The odds of this happening are about 1 in 283 quadrillion (15 zeros).
  • The odds of rolling a Yahtzee in the first roll of any turn is 1 in 1296.



Ohio Art Company

Etch A Sketch

  • In the 1960’s, Ohio Art used television to advertise the Etch A Sketch®. The response was so incredible that the company decided to continue manufacturing them until noon Christmas Eve 1960. The Etch A Sketches® were then immediately shipped to the West Coast so people in California could buy Etch A Sketch® on Christmas Eve and have them for Christmas.
  • The Etch A Sketch screen’s reverse side is coated with a mixture of aluminum powder and plastic beads. The left and right knobs control the horizontal and vertical rods, moving the stylus where the two meet. When the stylus moves, it scrapes the screen leaving the line you see. The knobs have changed slightly. The new shape has a different edge for easier handling and turning.
  • After more than 38 years in existence, the Etch-a-Sketch still uses aluminum powder as its magic ingredient.


  • Operation was invented by a sophomore at the University of Illinois in 1962 as part of a class assignment to invent a game or toy.
  • The “patient” in Operation is named “Cavity Sam”.

Parker Brothers


  • Clue: The Movie was the first film based on a board game.
  • There are many variations of the game including Alfred Hitchcock, The Simpsons, Dungeons and Dragons, The Haunted Mansion, Scooby-Doo, The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror, Harry Potter and 24.
  • Clue is one of the few board games to surpass $1 billion in sales, in more than 50 markets.
  • It was developed in England by a retired legal clerk named Anthony Pratt during WWII and released in 1948.
  • As of February 2009, Universal has attached Gore Verbinski to develop a movie version of Clue that he would direct.


  • There have been over five billion Monopoly houses built since 1935.
  • Parker Brothers rejected the game of Monopoly citing 52 fundamental playing flaws.
  • The standard Monopoly game includes $15,140 in play money.
  • The character locked up in the jail in Monopoly is “Jake the Jailbird”. Officer Edgar Mallory put him away.
  • If the Monopoly bank runs out of money, you are required to print more or hand-draw extra cash.


Pohlmann & Goppel

Pogo Stick

  • The Pogo Stick was once promoted by the Ziegfeld Follies. The inventor, George Hansburg, arranged for the Pogo Stick to be featured in the show as a publicity stunt and taught the Ziefeld Girls how to Pogo. Later, a wedding was performed in the show on pogo sticks. The roaring twenties were the height of popularity for pogo sticks and there were many publicity stunts at that time. The New York Hippodrome chorus girls performed entire shows on them.
  • The first Pogo Sticks were made in Germany and shipped to Gimble’s Department Store in New York City. Unfortunately they were all made of wood and somehow rotted on the voyage to NYC. George Hansburg redesigned them with an all-metal construction and patented the toy in 1919.
  • A Gas Powered Pogo Stick was invented and patented in 1960 by Gordon Spitzmesser. He called it the Hop Along. The patent expired in 1977. They were produced and marketed as the “Hop Rod” in the 60’s by the Chance Manufacturing Company in Wichita, Kansas. They apparently ran on a mixture of alcohol and castor oil.
  • The greatest number of consecutive jumps achieved on a pogo stick is 177,737, by Gary Stewart at Huntington Beach, California, USA on May 25-26, 1990.
  • Ashrita Furman of Jamaica, New York set a pogo stick jumping distance record of 23.11 miles in 12 hours 27 minutes on June 22, 1997 at Queensborough Community College Track, New York, USA.


Poof Products Inc.

Slinky (see James Industries)


Pressman Toys


  • The game of Checkers was depicted on ancient Egyptian tombs.



Rainbow Crafts


  • Play-Doh was originally used to clean wallpaper.
  • Play-Doh originally came in only off-white.
  • The exact ingredients in Play-Doh and the Play-Doh recipe are still a mystery.
  • In 1960, Play-Doh Pete, a boy garbed in a beret and artist’s smock, was introduced as the modeling clay’s mascot. Today, Pete graces cans of Play-Doh wearing a backwards baseball cap and a t-shirt.
  • Unable to afford a national marketing campaign, Rainbow Crafts formed an informal deal with Bob Keeshan, know to children as Captain Kangaroo, to have Play-Doh featured on his show twice a week. In return, Bob’s production company received a 2 percent cut of Play-Doh’s sales.


Red Square Toy Company

Lincoln Logs

  • Lincoln Logs were invented by John Lloyd Wright, the son of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
  • Lincoln Logs originally came with instructions on how to build Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Sawyer’s Photo Services

View Master

  • During World War II the U.S. Armed Forces commissioned View Master reels for training purposes.


Spin Master Ltd.

Spin Master

  • Spin Master makes more airplanes than Boeing. They have made 10 million planes since 1998.


Smethport Specialty Company

Wooly Willy Magnetic Hair

  • Wooly Willy, the bald character with the magnetic hair, was created by Donald and James Herzog of the Smethport Specialty Company in Pennsylvania in 1955. Willy was drawn by artist Leonard Mackowsky. His name is hidden in the artwork to the right of the mushroom on the back of the package.
  • In addition to Wooly Willy, other characters with “magnetic” personalities include Hair-Do Harriet, Doodle Bug, Hair Bear Jr., and Whiskers the Cat.
  • Artist Leonard Mackowski designed Wooly Willy. He hid his name in the artwork, to the right of the mushroom on the back of every package.


  • Tonka trucks were named after Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota. The word “Tonka” means “great” in Sioux.



Board Games

  • Transogram’s board games, “Dragnet” and “Perry Mason” use the same graphic, except for pictures of each of the star characters: Jack Webb and Raymond Burr.
  • Transogram’s board games, “The Detectives” and “Philip Marlowe” use virtually the same graphic as “Dragnet” and “Perry Mason”, with only minor observable differences.






Giant Comics

  • Originally, Giant Comics cost 98-cents. The going price for the average comic book of the day was 12-cents.
  • According to the cover, ‘The panels of this book placed end-to-end would stretch the length of a football field!’
  • Giant Comics comic book measures a gigantic 14 x 21 inches.
  • Each single page from Giant Comics held as much material as four pages from a regular-sized comic book.
  • There was only ever one issue of Giant Comics comic book.
  • Giant Comics boasted over 1,500 Action Panels filled with original works from well known artists of the day.

Hula Hoop

  • No modern company and no single inventor can claim that they invented the first hula hoop.
  • Nearly 25 million hula hoops were sold in four months during 1958 and 1959 in the U.S.
  • The USSR banned the hula hoop calling it a symbol of the emptiness of American culture.

Water Wiennie

  • How far does the Water Wiennie shoot? “Up to great distances”.

X, Y, Z

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