"Toys for a Lifetime" Timeline
Just six years after he arrived in America from Westphalia Germany, Frederick August Otto Schwarz opened a toy shop in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1870, he moved to New York to open the "Schwarz Toy Bazaar" on Broadway and eventually moved uptown to 745 Fifth Avenue in 1931. The flagship store remained at this location until November 1986, when it moved 93 feet across the street to its current location at 767 Fifth Avenue.  Today, FAO Schwarz, the nation's premier specialty toy retailer continues its tradition of providing unique and trend-setting merchandise to toy enthusiasts from around the world. The Ultimate Toy Store has flagship stores in Chicago, Las Vegas, New York, Orlando, San Francisco, and an additional 33 stores across the United States.
The first embossed ABC wooden blocks were made by the Embossing Co. to help children learn their alphabet the old-fashioned way, and later made by Uncle Goose where the tradition continues today. William Bultman, revived the American manufacture of wood embossed ABC blocks when he founded Uncle Goose Toys in 1983. He was disappointed to learn that the blocks he had played with as a child were no longer available. Since he was already making classic wooden coaster wagons, it was a logical step to begin Uncle Goose Toys. After William died in 1992, sons Scott and Peter have guided the family business into several new areas.
On May 28th, artist, cartoonist, storyteller Johnny Gruelle submits a design to the U.S. Patent Office for a rag doll.  The character, Raggedy Ann, is a “Good Samaritan” with a candy heart that says “I Love You”.  She is the foundation of a series of poems and stories Gruelle has been writing for several years. In 1918,  P.F. Volland Co. publishes “The Raggedy Ann Stories”  and introduces the first commercially produced dolls to immediate success and acclaim. Two years later in 1920, Raggedy Ann’s brother, Raggedy Andy, is introduced.  Volland continues to manufacture the dolls until 1934.   In 1963, production and marketing of Raggedy Ann dolls is assumed by Knickerbocker Toys, later acquired by the Applause company. In 1999 Raggedy Ann becomes part of the Dakin Signature Collection by Applause.
Antonio Pasin, a 16-year old immigrant cabinetmaker, began making wooden wagons in his workshop. By 1930 his company Radio Flyer Steel and Manufacturing was the largest producer of coaster wagons. Radio honored inventor G. Marconi and Flyer recognized wonder of flight the Radio Flyer wagon introduced in 1933 continues today to thrill young riders, and the company continues to be operated by the grandsons of the founder.
Ole Christiansen, a Danish toy maker begins to manufacture toy blocks with a new twist. Christiansen creates a plastic brick that can be locked together in different configurations. LEGO (The LEGO Company) comes from the Danish word meaning, “Play well,” was born. The continuing popularity of the LEGO brick probably stems from its ability to stimulate a child’s imagination- just six bricks fit together in 102,981,500 different ways. In 1969 The LEGO® DUPLO® line is introduced designed for a preschooler's hands, LEGO DUPLO bricks are eight times the size of a standard LEGO brick. The basic building sets nourish young imaginations through free-form building, while the themed play sets stimulate creative role-play. 1977LEGO TECHNIC® is introduced for children ages 7 years and up. Using the gears, pulleys, beams and other special pieces in LEGO TECHNIC® sets, children who have advanced through the LEGO System of Play build realistic models featuring precision movements. Many LEGO TECHNIC sets can be motorized with the addition of a Power Pack.1995 LEGO PRIMO, now LEGO BABY, is created for children ages 0 – 36 months. LEGO® BABY toys contain an array of oversized toys with smooth rounded edges. Babies' tiny hands can easily grasp the colorful pieces, including rattling elements, people figures, stacking blocks and more. Designed to stimulate the senses and encourage play, the toys help develop babies' motor skills and hand-eye coordination. 1996 The LEGO Company creates LEGO Media to introduce innovative new products that reflect and extend the fantasy and role-play features of the core toy brand in media like software, books, film and television.1998 The LEGO Company introduces its revolutionary LEGO MINDSTORMS brand, the result of a collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab. The first product, the Robotics Invention System 1.0, puts the power of robotics at a user's command, allowing them to design, build and program robots using LEGO elements that move and act they way they want.
The Tonka truck (Tonka) is introduced by a group of Minnesota teachers. The word Tonka means “great” in Dakota Sioux, the language of the Native American tribe indigenous to Minnesota. More than 230 million trucks have been manufactured to date.
VTech is founded and introduces electronic learning products (ELPs) that connect cutting edge high technology with children's' traditional play and learning patterns. For the first time ever, children experience TV screens that are both interactive and educational.
Gazoobo was created by Chicco as the first multi-activity development toy for the exploration of shapes and colors, eye-hand coordination, and tactile skills. The Gazoobo provides stimulation with a zoo house shape sorter that opens its doors to the magic of discovery. A combination of animals, zoo house shape sorter, and geometric shapes makes this fun activity an educational experience that helps the child learn by matching the animal and geometric shapes as they are dropped inside, and then through the different colored-matched doors. The child can retrieve the objects by using the appropriate coded key. The shapes can be used over and over again. It can be used to do extension activities like outline drawing or counting. It has a secure pull-out carrying handle that makes it a perfect take-along travel toy, and all the shapes can be stored inside. Chicco, an international children’s product company was founded by Mr. Pietro Catelli over 55 years ago, and is headquartered in Como, Italy, with an office in the USA. Chicco produces a wide range of products that includes toys, juvenile metal goods, nursery, fashion apparel, shoes and baby skin care products.
Rob Angel, a 24-year-old waiter from Seattle, introduces Pictionary, a game in which partners try to guess phrases based on each other’s drawings. The product was introduced by the Games Gang and is now the property of Milton Bradley/Hasbro.
During August, Kinetic Sculptor Arthur Ganson was wandering through a street fair in Austin Texas, after having installed one of his works at the Austin Children’s Museum. Off in the distance, he saw a bright colored curved line in space and thought, "What a fabulous idea, a piece of colored foam with a moldable wire inside of it. I wish I had invented it." As he got closer to the object, he realized what he had seen was only a balloon. Arthur had invented Toobers & Zots. The first shipment was available 14 months later (October, 1994.) through Hands On Toys, Toobers & Zots and other related products continue to stimulate imagination.
Phusion, a PC connectible organizer and digital camera is developed by VTech for use by children aged 9-12. Also new for 2000, VTech's DJ Jazz 'n Jam continues the 25 year VTech tradition of connecting high-technology with children's' traditional play and learning patterns.
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