Wyandotte toys was founded in the fall of 1921 in Michigan. The company emphasized the use of mass production techniques and cheap raw materials, such as scrap metal from the auto industry, to manufacture high quality tin toys. During their first decade in business, they focused mainly on producing toy pistols and rifles.
Their slogan for that time was 'Every Boy Wants a Pop Gun'.
By 1929, they were the world's largest manufacturer of toy guns. At that point they decided to stop producing air rifles, but continued with the rest of their diversified line of toy guns which included pop guns, clicker pistols, water pistols, dart guns and pistols, cap guns, and a variety of plastic pistols.
Near the end of their first decade in business, the company decided it was time to reinvent themselves. By diversifying their product lines to include a handful of girls toys including doll buggies, musical toys, games, and wagons, as well as adding a wide range of cars, trucks, and planes, they were able to greatly expand their consumer base. This was a move which helped them to become even more famous. At this point, they decided to change their slogan to 'Wyandotte Toys are Good and Safe'.
Their simply built, streamlined, art deco steel cars and trucks were unmistakable. Through the years they built heavier gauge steel cars, distinguished by their baked enamel finish, and wooden wheels, they were designed to withstand the rigors of almost any young child's endless playing, as evidenced by the condition of the many Wyandotte toys treasured by today's collectors. Tin cars produced by the company are more rare and very few exist today. Things were developing nicely for the company, and it continued to grow. In 1936, they added lithographed novelty toys. In 1937, they introduced spring-driven motors to propel some of their vehicles. This in turn led to a wider range of wind-up and lever-action novelty toys.
Then came World War II, and things changed. Because of the shortage of steel for manufacturing, the company turned to producing toys out of wood and die-cut cardboard, in a 'build-your-own' play set format. They also contributed greatly to the war effort by producing clips for the M-1 rifle. After the war, the company moved to Piqua, Ohio. In another attempt to diversify, the company bought Hafner trains, a company that manufactured clockwork toy trains. In 1948, they began producing die-cast and hard-molded plastic toys, in order to compete in the dime store and bargain basement markets.
The 1950's brought on a new set of challenges for the company. Steel shortages and high labor costs made it difficult to compete in a rapidly changing marketplace. No longer able to adapt, the company went bankrupt in 1956.
What's your 'Wyandotte' worth? Here are some recently sold items (UK).
|1930s Girard Semi Cab Truck And Farm||10/2019||£98.53|
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Do you want to know more about collectible tin toys, and want to learn about value and identification? Take a look at these books on old toys on Amazon.