Virtual MTM Tour

Marx Playsets of the 1950's & 60's

The Marx playsets of the 1950's and 60's provided not only hours of fun for the children of the time, but produced childhood memories that will last a lifetime for millions around the world. The Marx Toy Museum takes pride in the collection of playsets currently on display and the many memories they have bought back to those who visit...


           Marx playsets were not only some of the most popular toys of the 50's, 60's, and 70's, but are also some of the most collected toys of today!  Playsets simply be described as collections of figures and accessories that were sold as a single set.  A Marx playset included everything any child would need to have hours of fun through creative imagination... without "accessories sold separately" or "collect the whole series" marketing as often seen in today's toys.
Some might consider the earliest playsets to be the metal based sets sold throughout the 1930's and 40's. These sets included the base, the building, the metal accessories, and the cars. These sets were assembled at the Marx factory and could be purchased as a single boxed set. Examples include the Sunnyside Service Station from 1934 and the Roadside Service Station from 1935.
In the 1940's, the nation directed much of the metal resources to aid the war effort. Following the war, metal continued to be in short supply and high demand. Marx anticipated this potential limitation for post-war toy production and reacted accordingly. In 1947, Louis Marx developed the plastics department at the Glen Dale factory. This created a whole new world from Marx toys!
The development of plastic in toy production led to a new line of Marx playsets to evolve throughout the 1950's and 60's. Playsets that included hundreds of pieces to create amazing dioramas for children to imagine. These playsets would contain a tremendous number of plastic figures in a variety of colors often having "conflicting" sets of figures such as the cowboys and Indians, the police and mobsters, Germans and U.S. soldiers so that children could bring these sets to life!!!
Marx playsets would include animals and accessories, trees and rocks, cannons and wagons, and a number of other pieces to keep the children occupied for hours. Most sets included a center piece such as a barn in a farm set, a metal forts as in the medieval castle, or plastic forts as in the Fort Apache sets. Finally Marx would often top it all off with a book on the history of the playsets subject, or a record of sound effects, paints, or even a photo of the playsets hero.
When we look at the Giant Battle of the Blue & Gray playset from 1961, this 330 piece set includes all that could be imagined. A metal mansion to serve as the focal point, dozens of Union and Confederate soldiers, horses, cannons, ambulance wagons, a caisson, tents, and a variety of other accessories including a record with sound effects and a paint set. This set would have sold for $11.99. On display, this set comes to life and has been a favorite among collectors!!!
Throughout the late 1950's and 60's the Marx playset line further developed. The Marx playsets can basically be divided into three themes. Marx produced a number of playsets relating to popular television shows & movies such as the Gunsmoke, Lone Ranger, and Flintstones. Marx also produced historical playsets such as the Civil War, Rhine River, and Battle of Little Big Horn. Last but not least, Marx also produced toys relating to things that children would see in real life such as airports, farms, houses, service stations, etc.

From a production perspective on the playsets, Mike Yankoski, Forman of the Assembly Departement from 1947 to 1980, comments "the Marx playsets were known as the KD toys because all the different pieces that made up the set were brought in from the different departments in the plant and 'Knocked Down' into the flatter playset boxes. We used assembly line production, so every girl along the line would be responsible for placing a specific part of the set in the box so that it would all fit by the time it got to the end of the line."
What made the Marx playsets so popular during their years of production is what has continued to make them so desirable to collect today. Marx playsets were amazingly detailed in their completeness, their historical accuracy, and the quality of sculptures designed. The Official Marx Toy Museum Has Over 100 Playsets On Full Dioramic Display!!!
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