Tin toys from Germany

Nuremberg (Bavaria), had become the historic center of the toy industry many years before the word 'toy' came to be used to describe children's playthings.

In the early years of the 20th century, Germany was the leading producer of tin toys. Nuremberg's pewter trade was likely to have founded the tinplate toy industry for which the town was to become eventually renowned. Soon Nuremberg products were pouring out of Germany and flooding the markets of the world. Other local firms joined in (for example Trix, Kellermann, Gama, Schuco, Fleischmann, and Arnold), making Germany the toy supplier of the world.

German products generally began to upset world economy in a similar way to today's domination of world markets by Japan. Commercial toymaking in other countries began as a planned response to check German imports.

German tin toys were innovative and well made and they dominated the market up to the outbreak of World War II. Once the toy industry was (back) in full production, Japanese tin toys assumed the lead and began to control the market with the addition of many new novelties. Not just wind-up and friction driven, some Japanese tin toys were powered by batteries and able to provide flashing lights and sounds. In the 1950's and early 1960's, the Japanese had flooded the market with many appealingly designed tin toys and a large percentage of them were aimed at the USA with items familiar to Americans. But despite tin toy popularity in the post-war era, tin toy manufacturing was faced with increasing difficulties. They included changing consumer demands, new safety regulations and competition from plastic toy makers. By the 1970's, Japan had reduced the tin toy output so dramatically that many factories had ceased production altogether.

German tin toy producers

Updated: 17 Apr. 2016

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German value and price guide

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Comments (6)
James - September 6, 2015
I have tin windup elvated toy two towers with cars that are carried by windup chain and released on pressed metal roadway painted white red green yellow with caloipe painted where wind up key is. painted cars with two figures and steel wheel what is it and where is it from.
Mary - May 28, 2015
Hi, Do you know of any toy factories that were in Reutlingen just before the war? Thank you.
Can't find anything about that, I did found however a pre-war company called "Spielwaren-Fehl" so that might be it.
Heidi - April 27, 2015
Hi..My maternal grandfather was Heindrich Hopfner who owned a tin toy factory before WWII. Do you have any information on him and the time he owned this factory. I believe the factory at some point made decorative tins. thank you!
Hallo Heidi! I'm afraid that if you as a granddaughter don't have any information on his company than it will be even more difficult for me to find anything. Do you have somewhere a family archive?
Maxine - March 19, 2015
Lebreght tin company in Nurenberg before wwii
John - March 5, 2015
I have a VERY old tin train, the makers mark is 2 inverted triangles over a wide W, and the word Germany under it. Any ideas as to who the manufacturer was? Thanks.
Sounds like you have a Bing train John! The 'W' is from the word 'Werke' in 'Bing Werke'.
Howard - January 4, 2013
I have a wind up tractor with wooden wheels and chains between the wheels...I can find no marks or mfg name..it is very old, but I cant identify? any help would be appreciated
Sorry, can't help you with that... I did found a tractor with a similar description on this page (CTRL-F 'tractor').