In 1919, at the age of 23, Louis Marx he was fired from the Ferdinand J. Strauss Company where he worked and started his own business, Louis Marx & Co. to make his own Marx toys.

He started with basically empty hands and no money. David, his younger brother, joined him and by 1955, Marx toys had tin toy factories in ten different countries, including Japan, with divisions such as Linemar.

Marx toys

It would eventually grow to be the world's biggest toy, playsets and toy soldiers producer. They firmly stood for their two policies: "Give the customer more toy for less money" and "Quality is not negotiable".

Success

They were able to produce independently and with their own toy designs from 1921. Louis got some space in a factory in Erie, Pennsylvania, and from Strauss he bought two dies for the Zippo climbing monkey and Alabama the minstrel dancer. The next year, in 1922, these two tin toys had sold over eight million apiece, making Louis and his brother millionaires. Success steadily increased and within a decade Marx had sold millions of whistling Lumar yo-yos. To keep costs low, the company would often re-use dies, using it for multiple different tin toys. Wind-up train 'The Honeymoon Express' became the 'Mickey Mouse Express' and later the 'Subway Express'. And for example the 'Tidy Tim Street Cleaner' toy from 1940 was known originally as 'Popeye pushing a barrel of spinach'.

Marketing

Louis was an expert at designing toys, but he was also very good at marketing. A gof combination! Quality at the lowest price possible, Marx toys became so popular that he rarely needed to advertise.

After WW2, the firm worked hard to became again the number one largest toy manufacturer in the world: Louis Marx, The Toy King.

Unfortunately, Marx didn't pick up on new markets and failed to join the electronic toys era.

During the 1960s, Marx toys began to accept and make TV commercials. He started with one of his most famous toy: 'Rock-Em, Sock-Em' robots with a commercial featuring Rocky Graziano, the Heavyweight World Champion. Marx ended the 1960s by introducing the all-time greatest ride-on toy The Big Wheel.

End of Marx toys

In 1967, Dunbee Cobex purchased Marx UK and continued producing Marx toys until 1976 under the name Louis Marx and Co. Ltd. Quaker Oats bought the US firm in 1972. Now this new company, Dunbee Cobex Marx, took over Marx US from Quaker Oates and continued to manufacture toys until February 1980. Losses in the US forced the closure of the Swansea factory in 1981. However, in the 1980s some of Marx toys were reproduced (be careful if you want to buy original Marx toys!).

In 1982, at the age of 85, Louis died and on the 11th August 1992, Louis Marx & Co.. dissolved, even after a few attempts to keep the firm going.

Collectibles

Marx toys are one of the most popular among today's tin toy collectors. Their toy cars had often unexpected features. For example 1932 jalopy 'Comic Car', curved forward, halted and then drove backward in an arc. Like the 1940 'Charlie McCarthy Buggy', this Marx toy car had big rear wheels, which could also be used for a toy tractor. The 1932 'Amos ā€˜nā€™ Andy Fresh Taxi' drove forward, then halted, and shake! These were mass-produced toys, so to have any value the lithographed tin has to be in extremely good condition.

Marx failures are the most rare and collectible today. For example 'Bunny Express', a 1936 tin toy train with a rabbit-shaped engine and open cars instantly flopped when they released it for the Easter season. Few were made, so you can imagine that collectors are always on the lookout for this one!

Marx Toys value

What's it worth? Take a look at this Marx Toys price guide: sold listings for a value indication.

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Marx Toys - eBay UK

Marx Toys forum (16 comments)

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Jamie - May 23, 2016

Hi, I have Gung Ho! Commando set with box. Some parts missing and one handle of gun damaged. It still works gunfire noise but needs replacement bulb. I have pictures, but no idea of value. It also has a 'sample' label and sticker on it from 1964.

Flo Harper - April 19, 2015

Hi, I just bought a Marx friction stand up toy."Marcie Ketchup"! Box is worn tin toy has original string holding toy! value?

Vikki - September 23, 2014

I have a tin goose that is a wind-up, walks and lays golden eggs. Can anyone tell me when it was manufactured and it's worth today?

Stuart Fuse - September 17, 2014

I have two 1930's/40's Marx trailers that are missing the front wheels trailer hitch part. Can anyone help me to find them?
-►reply: Also ask the repair shops I have listed on my 'link' page.

Eddie Bateson - July 1, 2012

I have obtained a number of antique tin cars from my Uncle and have no idea what they may be worth. Two of them are Marx racers (yellow, green wheels and a blue top) that I can't find on the Internet. Could someone help me to find my way or a value to them. They were made in 1920.

Helen Katz - April 19, 2012

I have a wind-up car, a checker cab driven by a girl, circa mid-1950s. It's a bit rusted, half the girl's head is gone- but it still works (somewhat sluggishly)!!! It rides in a straight line until reaching the end of the table, or any other obstacle...then turns by itself! Any info about this model? Can;t find a photo of it anywhere. How could I get it repaired? Thanks! Helen
►reply: Hi! Difficult to say, Marx made many cabs. You can try Google images to find your car.

Alice Deck - May 15, 2011

We have a 6 wheel chain drive tractor with little farmer guy driving. He even has a polka-dotted kerchief in his pocket.It goes forward and back. We have replaced the rubber trackers. Nice red color with blue wheels...Would like to know appx worth? Thank you, Alice

Helen Watts - May 6, 2011

Hi All,A friend of mine has a boxed Louis Marx - (smoking ) HO steam elactric train set ( Serial Num 6096, wheel arrangement is ( 464 with an 8 wheel tender ). We are not sure of its age or value and wondered if anyone could give us some information, Thank you regards Helen

Gary Wermuth - February 17, 2011

Some time ago, I purchased a flippo the dog toy. I have two questions. The first being, is there any reliable place where I can get the spring fixed. It seems that it just needs to be re-wound. I took the body off of the toy, not damaging anything, but I cannot get it re-wound. The second question regarding this toy is, I am not sure of the age. this is definitely a colored model of the toy, and not a black and white toy from the 40's. I am confused though, as I saw one that looks just like mine that said Line Mar toys. Mine definitely has the Marx logo. Any help that you could give me regarding these tow issues would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Gary

Michael Dandy - December 26, 2010

I was wondering if anyone had any info on a trans-atlantic zeppelin wind-up toy that was produced by the mar company

Kim Godden - November 30, 2010

I have been clearing my uncles mums house and have come across a toy which is a large train which has the trade mark Marx toys made in england it is called the chief and has the number 86 on it does anyone know anymore about it?

Malcolm Perrin - November 23, 2010

I have written on the box a marx-a-copter it is a helicopter which rotates from a central pillar, it goes forwards backwards up.
►reply: The Marx-A-Copter was made in 1961-1962 and was similir to Mattel's VertiBird. There was also a Space version. It came with a record (33.3 RPM) with background sounds. Value depends on state.

Beverley - November 21, 2010

I have found a colourful face guitar with a short handle with a hat thats a bell. When you push him along his tongue goes in and out and his eyes blink. when was this made? And is he rare?
►reply: D. Dean stands for 'David Dean', the designer of the 'The Munchie Bunch' series, produced by Marx toys in the sixties. Yours could be the 'Bittie Banjo' or the 'Gabbie Guitar'.

Roy Batley - November 4, 2010

Hello, I have turned out my loft and come across a Louis Marx 'Match Play' Golf set. I don't know when it was made but I guess 70's by the flared trousers worn by those on the box illustration. It is complete in it's box and the green sponge driving range is as new. The game reference number is 3244 and if anyone does know when this was maufactured I would really like to know.

Charlotte Littlefield - September 13, 2010

I am the proud owner of an Amos and Andy tin car and I would like to find out more of the history of it. It belonged to my Uncle who died in 1955 and is the only thing I have of his.
►reply: Amos 'n Andy was a radio and TV show that dominated the ratings from 1928 through the 60's until it was sold by CBS in '66. The toy, made by Marx from the early days of the radio series, shows Amos and Andy riding in their open air taxi.

Ronald Dean - August 15, 2010

I had gone to a little corner store (mom and pop), with my grandfather, when I was eight years old. I saw this rocket ship called ROCKET RACER , I had to have it. Whatever it cost was a lot of money to spend on any toy. But a grandfathers love is special. Well I got it back to their house (in the country) and played with it for a little while until it was time for me to go back to the city. They would not alow me to take it with me. Instead my grandmother wrapped it in a dish towel and put in the corner of a drawer and would only take it out when I was there so I could play with it. I played with it before I went to Viet Nam and when I got back. My grandparents have passed away I am 63 years old, As I write this I am so looking at that little rocket racer setting on my desk at this moment (I LOVE THEM SO). Thank you.