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Commando-Scope

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Commando-Scope

Comando-Scope handheld periscope. Consists of wood framed periscope with fitted slats for gold colored cardboard piece with a red printed graphic showing people using the device. Text reads “COMANDO SCOPE (reversed within a red triangle) / A GENUINE PERISCOPE for Junior Commandos…”. An oval opening near the bottom reveals an angled mirror. Metal staples near at the top and bottom hold the cardboard in place. Reverse cardboard piece is identical, but upside down so the mirror is at the opposite end.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this toy in our collections database.

For more toys, please visit our new exhibit titled Toys of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s now open at the History Center.

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Tonka Dumptruck

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Tonka Dumptruck

A chromed steel toy dump truck made in 1990 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the iconic steel Tonka Dumptruck. Made by Tonka Corporation of Minnetonka, Minnesota.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this truck in our collections database.

To learn more about Tonka and other Minnesota toy manufactures, please visit our new exhibit titled Toys of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s now open at the History Center.

(Note: The comments section has been temporarily disabled while we upgrade the website. You can always leave comments on our Flickr Photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/minnesotahistoricalsociety/)

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Toys, Toys and more Toys!

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Toys, Toys and more Toys!

This weekend the highly anticipated (by kids and adults alike) Toys of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s exhibit opens to the public!

Item of the Day is very excited about this show and today we present a preview of one of the collection items on display (and an icon of Minnesota toy manufacture) a Tonka Toys Livestock Truck. It was made sometime in the 1950s by Tonka Toys, of Mound, Minnesota and features the classic strong metal construction.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this truck in our collections database.

(Note: The comments section has been temporarily disabled while we upgrade the website. You can always leave comments on our Flickr Photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/minnesotahistoricalsociety/)

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Toys!

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Learn about the new exhibit Toys and about which iconic toys from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s were invented right here in Minnesota. Will your favorites be among them?

Learn More:

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Toy Tractor

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Toy Tractor

A toy tractor and forage wagon representing Minneapolis-Moline products, circa mid twentieth century.

For details, view this toy in our collections database.

(Note: The comments section has been temporarily disabled while we upgrade the website. You can always leave comments on our Flickr Photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/minnesotahistoricalsociety/)

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Barbie and Ken, 1962

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

When Mattel toy co-founder Ruth Handler suggested an adult-bodied female doll to company executives in the early 1950’s, they were less than enthusiastic.  After all, infant dolls had dominated the market for decades, and fit the bill in preparing young girls for their future role as mothers.  But when Handler noticed her daughter Barbara (Barbie’s namesake) giving adult roles to the paper dolls she played with, she knew there was a niche to be filled.  Handler was in Europe in 1956 when she spotted a blonde-haired, long-legged doll named Bild Lilli, named after a German cartoon strip character.  Lilli was a sassy, independent working girl and her womanly figure was just what Handler envisioned for her doll.  Mattel took cues from the Lilli doll and adapted their own design which debuted as Barbie in 1959.

Marketed as a “Teen-age fashion model,” Barbie was the first mass-produced toy in America with adult features and was an instant success with 350,000 dolls sold in the first year of production.  Mattel was a pioneer in television advertising, being the first toy maker to broadcast commercials directly to kids in 1955 as a sponsor for the Mickey Mouse Club program.  Soon after her debut, Barbie commercials began to saturate children’s primetime TV programming and sales skyrocketed.   By 1961, consumer demand had reached such a fever pitch that Mattel released a new doll.  Barbie’s boyfriend Ken (named after Handler’s son) debuted in March of that year, clad in red swim trunks and sporting “molded” plastic hair.  Barbie’s coterie continued to grow with the introduction of best friend Midge in 1963 and little sister Skipper in 1964.

More than 800 million Barbies have been sold worldwide, but being the most popular doll in history hasn’t always been easy.  With a seemingly endless stash of clothing, cars, and “Dream Houses” Barbie has been branded as a poster child for materialism, and some have claimed that her supermodel-on-steroids good looks has created unrealistic expectations for young girls.  Others defend Barbie as a positive influence who provided an alternative to the traditional gender roles of the 1950’s, a point echoed by her creator.   “My whole philosophy of Barbie” said Ruth Handler “was that through the doll, the little girl could be anything she wanted to be. Barbie always represented the fact that a woman has choices.”  Whatever her fate, there’s no denying that Barbie has played a significant role as both a mirror and model of American culture.

Adam Scher, Senior Curator

  • For more fun like this, watch for the new Toys exhibit, opening at MHS Memorial Day Weekend 2014!
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Snoopy Yo-Yo

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Snoopy Yo-Yo

On this day, October 2, in 1950 the “Peanuts” comic strip drawn by St. Paul’s Charles Schulz begins national syndication in seven newspapers. This white plastic yo-yo features Snoopy in a fur coat and waving a red banner that reads “Rah!”

For details, view this toy in our collections database.

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Farm tractor toy

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Farm tractor toy

One-sixteenth scale model of a Minneapolis-Moline 1957 Five Star Standard farm tractor.

For details, view this toy in our collections database.

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Turn-A-Face toy

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Turn-A-Face toy

Plastic Turn-A-Face toy manufactured circa 1950. The toy consists of five blocks that may be rotated along a central axis in order to form faces with mis-matched features.

For details, view this toy in our collections database.

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Pecking toy from Little Sweden Resort

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Pecking toy from Little Sweden Resort

Pecking bird toy purchased at the Little Sweden Resort in Cook, Minnesota between 1953 and 1955.

For details, in our collections database.

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An Ounce of Preservation: A Guide to the Care of Papers and Photographs