Last Updated on 9/25/2017 by bidz

Their Work was Child’s Play
What’s in the Attic?
Linda Hamer Kennett

Vintage Fisher Price Toys

“Vintage Ad #1,027: Fisher-Price toys warm up a frosty day” by Jamie is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Fisher Price Toy Company was formed in 1931 by Herman Fisher, Irving Price, and Helen M. Schelle. While none of the three had much experience in the field of toy manufacturing, they shared a vision to produce a line of toys that would stimulate the creativity of a child. As stated in their first catalogue it was the goal of Fisher-Price to manufacturer toys with “intrinsic play value, ingenuity, strong construction, good value for the money and action.”

The company, that would one day grow into the world’s largest producers of children’s toys and furniture, started in a 3 room concrete-block building in East Aurora, New York with 16 toys. The very first toys ever sold by Fisher-Price were the Doctor Doodle and Granny Doodle pull-toys. These brightly colored ducks made of Ponderosa Pine with steel construction, were decorated with non-toxic lithographs and quacked and waddled as they were pulled. This pair of ducks have been known to bring $1,500-$2,000 each MIB {mint in box}.

The 1950’s saw the introduction plastic toys when “Buzzy Bee” hit the market. Realizing that plastic could help the company manufacture a product that would be brighter colored and longer-lasting, they expanded their new line to include 39 plastic toys by the end of the decade. Do any of you remember the “bubble mower” which produced a stream of bubbles when pushed, the “popcorn popper” with it’s bright colored balls that flew around inside a plastic dome, or the pull-toy trains driven by Mickey Mouse? These, and many other of the toys from the 1950’s are considered “Fisher-Price Classics” and are still being produced today.

In 1959 Fisher-Price manufacturer a group of little figures with animal and human characteristics that would evolve into the longest-lived line of toys in modern history. These tiny wooden figures ,with no arms and no legs, remain one of the most collectible of all the companies efforts and they were simply called… Little People.

The Little People have undergone six major body configurations since their inception. Early figures were wooden. All had a cylinder shaped body with females identifiable, for the first years, only by their eye make up. After 1965 you will find a wider shape used for boys and men and a conical upper shape for girls. The first group of figures were sold in 1965 as the Lacing Shoe with Play Family. The set, containing a Mom, a puppy, and four child figures, is a “must have” for any serious collector.

In 1968, Fisher-Price introduced the first Little People playset, the Play Family Barn which featured doors that “moo-ed” when opened. It was followed in 1969 by the Play Family House, the Play Family Action Garage in 1970, School is Cool in 1971 and the Little People Discovery Airport in 1972. Playsets, with all of their pieces, may take a while to assemble but are of considerable value.

In spite of their popularity the Little People faced the threat of extinction in the mid-1980’s when a picture of three of the characters were featured on the cover of the Edward Swartz publication “Toys that Kill”. The book addressed the choking dangers to small children presented by many popular toys of the day. It was taken very seriously by the major toy companies and Fisher-Priced replace their Little People with a larger version called the “Chunky People” in 1986.

For a good over view of Fisher-Price through the years, check out, where you will find a virtual tour, a timeline of production, and many other very useful tools. Until next time… Linda

{Linda Hamer Kennett is a professional liquidator specializing in down-sizing for seniors and the valuation of estates and may be reached at 317-3556-7856 or}

Some current live auctions on eBay for Fisher Price Collectibles:

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