Learn about Life in the 1920s

Popular boys toys of this period reflected the new and exciting cars, trucks and planes, while girls went for the traditional toys of dolls house and dolls.

Photo of boy in pedal car

Childrens Toys of the 1920's

American toy manufacturers excelled in the production of mechanical toys. The greater part of the foreign toy competition was in the cheaper grades of play-things, with the Japanese toy-makers and Germany shipping large quantities of cheap toys for the American market.

BOY PLAYING WITH TOY CRANE

Much like today there was a huge variety of toys including Chemistry sets, Crystal Growing , Clockwork Toys, Planes, Trucks, Tractors, Buses, Power Boats, Steam Train Set , Steam Engines, Musical toys, Character toys, Circus toys, pedal cars, sports, war toys, and construction toys like Lincoln Logs (You can still buy the Original Lincoln Logs White River Ranch Building Set!) and Tinkertoys . These included tin toys, pressed metal and cast-iron toys, wooden toys and paper toys. There seemed to be a bigger variety of toys available for boys than girls.

Classic vehicle toys for boys were made by companies like Buddy L, Tootsie, Wyandotte, and Marx - while dolls for the girls were supplied by Effanbee and Schoenhut.

Due to the expense of store-bought toys before mass production, many hobbyists created home-made toys from wood and metal. Age old favorites like spinning tops and kites were complemented by more sophisticated steam engines and pumps or model aeroplanes.

Photo of a Classic Red Wagon
1920's style red wagon
Buy today on Amazon.com

The 1920’s saw a movement away from war toys which had been popular up until that time. A major change in the toy industry came about with the introduction of modern mass production methods. For the first time the industry was able to produce toys cheaply and sell to a mass market.

Toy production was relatively limited in volume until 1927 when polystyrene was invented. Because Polystyrene is a tough, durable kind of plastic that is ideally suited to toy design, it ushered in a new world of toy development.

VINTAGE TEDDY BEAR

Although the modern style of Teddy Bear was developed about 1907 it was only in the 1920's that its popularity took off when companies like the Knickerbocker Toy Company mass produced them. The Knickerbocker Toy Company started in 1920 and still makes teddy bears today. In the 1920s, musical bears and mechanical bears increased in popularity world-wide. The two leading manufacturers of these novelty bears, Schuco and Bing, made bears that walked, danced, played ball, and even turned somersaults.

Likewise the Yo-Yo. It had been in existence for centuries but really took off in popularity when promoted by entrepreneur Donald Duncan after he saw it demonstrated in Los Angeles.

Meccano Ltd was a British toy company established in 1908 by Frank Hornby in Liverpool, England to manufacture and distribute the very popular Meccano kits and other model toys created by the company. During the 1920s and 1930s Meccano became the largest toy manufacturing company in Britain, producing three of the most popular lines of toys of the twentieth century: Construction Sets , Hornby Model Railways and Dinky Toys . In 1925 Hornby produced the first electric train sets in the world.

 

 

TOY RESOURCES

Pedal Cars on Amazon.com
A List of all the Pedal Cars For Sale on Amazon.

Things to Make
A 1920's book by Archibald Williams that describes how to make popular home-made toys of the period.