Virtual MTM Tour

Prototype Model

The Prototype Room features a collection of one-of-a-kind playsets, figures, and artwork! Including a Haunted Castle set, Original Circus set, Hand-carved Johnny West Cannon and Accessories, Hand-carved and hand molded figures, and the original artwork of former Model Room worker, Joe Chamberlain.

The Official Marx Toy Museum has been fortunate to have met with many artists and many of the artists family from the Marx model room. Their creations were proven brilliant by the children who played with them, their talents were proven to be truly amazing by the enthusiast who collect them today. In the spring of 2003, the museum opened a special area of the museum dedicated to the toy production process including sketches, paintings, hand models, molds, prototypes, and other one-of-a-kind creations from the Glen Dale Marx Factory.
What is a prototype? A prototype is the first full-scale form of a new type of creation that is usually used to form the pattern for future production pieces. In other words, before thousands of a single figure could be produced, there was that one figures that was either carved or hand molded that was used to produce the mold that all the other figures were made by...this is the prototype...the figure that made the mold!

But even before the mold, even before the prototype, there was an idea! An idea to create something new and exciting, an idea that would take many talents to evolve into a toy that could be produced by the thousands. This describes the role of the model room worker.
Often times an idea would begin on paper, with a sketch. Artists would sketch three dimensional imagines to illustrate their idea to show others and to get initial approve to create a new toy from an idea. After the sketch, the toy creator would need a blueprint for the design, often with specific dimension and details about the construction of an item. The model maker would then produce a prototype of the piece he had created in his mind. Using raw materials such as a "clay-like" material to mold the creation, an easily carved material to carve the creation, or cardboard, wood, tin, or steel to construct the newly created toy. This would be the prototype. From the prototype, preliminary molds could be created to produced small numbers of figures, later if approved for production, heavier bronze molds could be created to continue the toy production.

Marx Model Room workers had many responsibilities. In addition to having coming up with a creative idea and creating the prototype, model room workers were often times responsible for lithograph on the toy, designing the packaging, the artwork for the box, and even creating a production or marketing plan for the newly created toy.

While many of the toys that Marx produced were originally first idecated and created in the Marx Model Room, Marx did contract other modeling company to produced original and detailed figures that met Louis Marx standards and that were used to create molds for the Marx factories to produce toys. At times, and often times, Marx would be so busy that he even hired other plastic companies to help produce the large volume of figures to meet the demand of the children around the world.


At the Official Marx Toy Museum, visitors will encounter a behind the scenes look at toy production. From original pencil sketches to blueprint designs...a variety of prototypes including hand carved figures, hand modeled figures, wood carved pieces, complete prototype playsets, original artwork, production plans, original uncut lithograph, stamps, and other original ideas and creations from the Marx Model Room. Visitors are invited to watch a 20 minute movie that was originally filmed in 1958 in the Glen Dale factory by the AFL-CIO. The video takes a closer look into the life of the toy worker and the production of toys, including tin, plastic, and steel toys.
Check out some of our featured stories on the toy creation process...
An Artist's Signature
The King Figure
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