Virtual MTM Tour

Wind-Ups

When you think of the Marx wind-ups, you are thinking about those classic toys before plastic was even invented, with the Marx Merrymakers being the most memorable. The Marx wind-ups were amazing toys with truly remarkable engineering. Their creativity is what has kept them so memorable to this day.


The Marx mechanical windup toys represent some of the great classics in American toy history with a few of the Marx windups as commonly known as the Fort Apache playset & Big Wheel.
In the 1920's and 30's, Marx produced a series of traffic toys. These elongated toys had a single wind-up mechanism which was responsible for the movement of a number of pieces along the toy. Variations of the traffic toys include the Main Street (1927), Big Parade (1928), West Point Parade (1929), and Busy Bridge (1937). The Busy Bridge consisted of six cars and buses being motioned across the bridge.

One of the most recognized and appreciated of the Marx windups is the Marx MerryMakers!

Originally produced in 1931 and selling for 91 cents, the Merry Makers is a Four Mouse Band surrounding an upright piano. One mouse rocks back and forth while playing the piano, the other beats a drum, and a third dances beside the piano. The fourth mouse came in two variations: conducting the band with a baton or playing the violin. Another variation to this set was presence or absence of the Marx Merry Makers marquee. The most desirable version is shown in the photos which has the mouse playing the violin and the marquee backdrop.

 

While the Tidy Tim piece was a name created by Marx. Louis Marx was always working to gain licensing for the most popular names at the time. Marx could use the same figure structure with new lithograph to create the next popular toy. Licensing acquired by Marx include Popeye, Superman, Disney, Amos & Andy, and many more...
One of the memorable and more common toys produced by Marx was the Jalopy. The Marx Jalopy was produced throughout the 40's, 50's, and 60's in a number of variations. This piece is often recognized for its mechanical design in creating the "jalopy-like" effect as it rolled across the floor.
The Marx mechanical toys represent truly creativity and invention in the toy production process and will continue to be appreciated by future generations.
Background on Wind-Up Production
The Marx wind-up toys were primarily produced in the Erie, Pennsylvania factory. In 1933, the Erie factory was the first factory acquired by Louis Marx & Co. The Erie factory produced mechanical wind-up toys and mechanical trains. During the 1950's, the Erie factory produced millions of mechanical cars, tanks, and tractors annually. In the 1960's, the Erie factory also began to produce blow-molded plastics including many of the ride-on toys. In 1975, the Erie factory was closed.
Over 75 Wind-Up Toys on Display from the 1930's, 40's, & 50's
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