100 Years of Toys

BATR Toys, Games and Crazes of the Century
Some of the key dates for the first 50 years

1950 -1999 year-by-year

1901 Meccano goes on sale in the UK. Invented by Frank Hornby in Liverpool, it captures the spirit of the age with a challenging construction toy. One of the century's leading toy makers and creator of Hornby train sets (1920, and see 1925) and Dinky Toys, Hornby died in 1936.

1902 In the USA, the Teddy Bear is created by a Russian emigrants Morris MiTchtom who had seen a report of US President Teddy Roosevelt who declined to shoot a bear cub while out hunting. Clifford Berryman's celebrated newspaper cartoon captured this moment and Mitchcom launched his range of "Teddy" bears in his Brooklyn shop. German toymaker, Margarete Steiff began making jointed toy animals including bears, and they were also able to cash in on the teddy bear craze in the USA, which spread worldwide.

1903 Edward Binney & C. Harold Smith produce Crayola crayons.

1908 Plasticine goes on sale.

1909 The Kewpie Doll devised by Rose O'Neill. Patented 1935.

1910 Daisy Air Rifles go on sale.

1914 Tinker Toys - interlocking construction toy.

1925 Hornby produce the first electric train sets in the world.

1929 Rediscovered by Frank Duncan in Los Angeles when he saw waiters from the Philippines playing with their tradit-ional Yo-Yo. It can be traced back to Ancient Greece - in the Philippines it was a weapon (like a boomerang) for hunting and war until later it became a sporting item then later a plaything. In 1930 Frank Duncan brought over demonstrators to Europe to play the music halls - and the craze took off.

1930 Charlotte Cla in the USA starts making Micky Mouse dolls based on the first Disney cartoon first screened in 1928.

1934 Corgi starts to manufacture toy cars and other models. In 1965 their model Aston Martin from the first James Bond film became the very first BATR Toy of the Year.

1932 US architect, Alfred Butt begins work on what will become the board game, Scrabble. He calls it Lexico. (See 1940) In Denmark, Ole Kirk Christiansen started his Lego toy company. Lego means 'play well' in Danish. (leg godt). Later he discovered Lego in Latin means 'to put together'. (See 1955)

1935 Monopoly arrives in the UK. Invented in the USA by Charles Darrow in 1933, patent filed 31st August 1935 while on sale in America. It was made under licence in the UK by Waddingtons. Darrow died in 1967.

Minibrix made by the Premo Rubber Co. using the studs and cavity device which paved the way for plastic interlocking bricks pioneered by Hilary Page in the 1940s.

1943 Richard James, researching a suspension device develops the Slinky. It goes on sale in 1945.

1948 Criss Cross Words invented by Alfred Butt (originally Lexico) fails to sell well and is sold to James Brunot who changes the name to Scrabble. Sales average just 8,000, but from 1953 - 55 it suddenly takes off - sales reach 4.5million sets. (See 1954)

1949 Leeds-based Waddington's produces mystery board-game, Cluedo. This year (1999) it celebrated its 50th birthday.

Researched by Gerald Masters

The BATR wishes to acknowledge the many sources used, including the History Channel, the Pan Book of Dates and the Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green, as well as some of the companies involved.