FAO Schwarz Celebrates 150th Anniversary By Presenting Gallery Of Historic Toys

by Jay Cochran
February 22, 2012
The folks at FAO and Toys R' Us send along this press release about a gallery of historic toys they will have on display at their FAO flagship store in New York City celebrating 150 years of FAO being in business.

The list of historic toys shown in the exhibit are listed below in the release. One toy line that seems to have been left out is Kenner's Star Wars line. Seems to us Star Wars revolutionized action figures back in the late 70's and 80's with many cool figures and vehicles and would think it would be included in a list like this, but I guess FAO felt differently. Anyway check out the full FAO press release below and if you happen to be in New York City stop by and check it out. The exhibit will be on display through April 10.


Since 1862, one brand has embodied whimsical, high-quality, innovative toys. Now celebrating its 150th Anniversary, FAO Schwarz is marking this rare milestone in the world of retail by unveiling a special gallery featuring prototype, original and early editions of some of the best-known toys in the world, alongside some nostalgic items from the FAO Schwarz archives. Displayed prominently throughout the famed flagship store in New York City, “A Gallery of Historic Toys,” will be on display now through April 10.

Generations of kids have found their most cherished playthings on the shelves of FAO Schwarz, and the retailer has served as the launch pad for many iconic toys and games throughout the years. Now, FAO Schwarz is showcasing more than 25 vintage versions of toys ranging from a 1905 Richard Steiff Teddy Bear and first edition Hot Wheels® Cars to Hello Kitty’s first U.S. products and a 1982 hand-sewn Cabbage Patch Kid®. Toy enthusiasts can also view “A Gallery of Historic Toys” online at FAO.com and Facebook.com/FAO.

“Founder Frederick August Otto Schwarz created his beloved store 150 years ago as a theater for the industry to showcase items in a way that would engage consumers, while introducing them to new products from all over the world,” said Lisa Harnisch, Senior Vice President, General Merchandising Manager, Toys“R”Us, U.S. “From the original baby carriage to Steiff teddy bears to the first-ever Nintendo Entertainment System, FAO Schwarz has brought thousands of unforgettable toys to market, evolving from a purveyor of extraordinary products to a must-see retail destination.”

FAO Schwarz Presents A Gallery of Historic Toys
Over the past 150 years, FAO Schwarz has grown from a simple shopping experience to a best-in-class example of retail as entertainment. Beyond scouring the globe for the most elegant and exquisite items to offer its customers, FAO Schwarz became synonymous with introducing U.S. consumers to wondrous toys, games and lifestyle products that had never been available in the country. The gallery honors this tradition by bringing together original versions of some of the most beloved toys ever to appear in the store.

Historic FAO Schwarz Elements on Display
FAO Schwarz Sales Ledger (1909)
Standing 20-inches high, 14-inches wide and 5-inches thick, this antique ledger was used by FAO Schwarz associates to track international purchases and sales from 1909 to 1910.

FAO Schwarz Catalogs (1928 – 2011)
To bring the wonder of the store to customers around the country, in 1876 FAO Schwarz began mailing catalogs, creating among the first mail order businesses in the U.S. Featured is a selection of catalogs from the 20th Century.

Iconic Toys on Display (Listed Alphabetically)

64 Box (1958) from Crayola
The Crayola 64 Box, with the built-in sharpener, has become America’s iconic crayon box. The first edition, which debuted in 1958, is home to 64 brilliant colors, including burnt sienna and periwinkle.

Cabbage Patch Kids® (1982 and 1983) from Original Appalachian Artworks
Created in 1978 by Xavier Roberts as “Little People,” Cabbage Patch Kids baby Otis Lawton is based on the only adopted son of creator Xavier Roberts. This doll is from the first adoptable, hand-sculpted edition of Original Cabbage Patch Kids, released in 1982. Also featured is the vinyl face version, represented by Delila Lorinda, which kicked off the Cabbage Patch Kid craze in 1983.

EASY-BAKE OVEN (1964) from Hasbro®
In 1963, the EASY-BAKE OVEN was introduced to America as the first working toy oven using a light bulb to bake sweet treats. Regularly updated, the EASY-BAKE OVEN continues to inspire young pastry chefs today. On display is a vintage EASY-BAKE OVEN from 1964.

Etch A Sketch (1960) from The Ohio Arts Company
A prototype Etch A Sketch, which was originally showcased at Toy Fair in Nuremburg, Germany in 1959 is featured in the display, alongside the first edition of the classic drawing toy, which was introduced in the U.S. in 1960.

G.I. JOE action figures (1964 and 1982) from Hasbro®
G.I. JOE is one of the most iconic brands in the history of toys and was the inspiration for the term “action figure.” Featured in the display are first edition 12-inch G.I. JOE action figures produced in 1964, as well as selections from the first wave of 3 ¾-inch G.I. JOE Real American Heroes action figures from 1982.

Hello Kitty® (1976) from Sanrio
A phenomenon in Japan, Hello Kitty was introduced to the U.S. in 1976 with featured selections, such as a plush toy, camera, pencil box, pencils, mini coloring set, puzzle, folding mirror and comb, among other items.

Hot Wheels® Cars from Mattel®
In 1968, the Hot Wheels® brand was introduced as a line of 16 die-cast vehicles in a 1:64 scale. Today, more than 4 billion Hot Wheels® cars have been manufactured – more than the Big 3! Seven of the original Hot Wheels® cars are on display, including custom versions of the T-Bird, Fleetside, Barracuda, Camaro, El Camino, Hot Heap™, El Dorado and Ford J-Car.

Little People (1985) from Fisher-Price®
The beloved Little People® brand was introduced as the Safety School Bus in 1959 with non-detachable characters riding inside. The current Little People Bus, an updated version of the 1985 item on display, remains popular today.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Megazord (1993) from Bandai America Inc.
Introduced in 1993, Saban’s Power Rangers became an instant toy phenomenon. This first edition Megazord, featuring five combinable dinosaur Zords, has become a much sought-after collectible.

MONOPOLY (1935) and BATTLESHIP (1967) from Hasbro®
Introduced in the 1930s, the featured 1935 version of MONOPOLY was designed with wooden houses. Originally created as a pencil and pad game, the 1967 BATTLESHIP was the first to feature a playing board.

MR. POTATO HEAD (1972) from Playskool®
MR. POTATO HEAD was introduced in 1952 and was the first toy ever advertised on network TV. MR. POTATO HEAD received his first plastic body in 1964, and on display is a vintage version of the MR. POTATO HEAD character from 1972.

Nintendo Entertainment System™ (NES) (1985) from Nintendo
The NES, an 8-bit video game console, first launched in the U.S. in October 1985 at FAO Schwarz. The NES went on to sell close to 62 million units worldwide, and is credited with recreating the home video game market.

Original Barbie® Doll (#3) and Original Ken® Doll from Mattel®
Barbie Millicent Roberts™ was introduced to a skeptical toy industry at the American International Toy Fair in New York City in 1959. Also on display is Ken® doll, first introduced at the 1961 Toy Fair as Barbie® doll’s boyfriend. They are still a couple today.

In 1977, the PLAY-DOH FUZZY PUMPER BARBER & BEAUTY SHOP playset was introduced, featuring a play figure whose “hair” can be extruded and then styled.

PLAYMOBIL figures (1974) from PLAYMOBIL®
In 1974, the first PLAYMOBIL figures, Construction Worker, Native American and Knight, made their debut. More than 2.5 billion figures have been sold since their creation. The original figures are presented alongside vintage packaging from 1974 and 1975.

Razor® A Scooter (2000) from Razor USA LLC

When it was introduced in 2000, the original A model Razor® kick scooter was a phenomenal success, drawing the attention of hip city dwellers and kids of all ages. This scooter is now deeply entrenched in American culture. Like bikes and skateboards, the Razor kick scooter transformed childhood transportation.

Richard Steiff Bear (1905) from Steiff
The 1905 Richard Steiff Teddy Bear, designed by and named after Margarete Steiff’s nephew Richard, was produced through 1951. At the time of the bear’s introduction, Richard’s rounded face, blunted snout and embroidered nose were a departure from the design of other Steiff Teddies launched in the early 1900s. Richard is 30 cm, five-way jointed and made from gray mohair.

Silly Putty (1950) from Crayola
The first edition Silly Putty bounces, stretches and lifts up comics from newspapers. Discovered accidentally while trying to create a rubber substitute, Silly Putty is now a true classic toy. Since 1950, more than 400 million Silly Putty eggs have been sold.

Slinky® (1950), Slinky Dog®, Slinky® Three Little Pigs and Slinky® Elephant from POOF®-Slinky®
Created in 1945, Slinky® was developed when Naval engineer Richard James saw a coil fall off his desk and tumble end-over-end down a stack of books. The original Slinky® is displayed with Slinky® Dog, Slinky® Three Little Pigs and Slinky® Elephant – friendly characters that added personality to Slinky®.

“Sorry!” (1934) and Candy Land (1955) from Hasbro®
Originally published by Parker Brothers in 1934, this first edition of “Sorry!” still features the same gameplay today. Candy Land, created in 1949, only had its trademark color spots and cards, with no characters when it was first introduced.

Tamagotchi (1997) from Bandai America Inc.
Introduced in 1997, Tamagotchi is a tiny pet from cyberspace that needed love and care to survive and grow. Tamagotchi became a worldwide phenomenon, and it was commonplace to see children caring for these “virtual pets.”

Tickle Me Elmo (1996) from Tyco®
An immediate hit, the first edition Tickle Me Elmo, based on the popular Sesame Street® character, featured a contagious and boisterous laugh. It quickly became the most sought-after toy of the 1996 holiday season.

Town Plan (1955) from The LEGO Group
In 1955, the “LEGO® System of Play” launched, allowing kids to build an entire city from LEGO® bricks. Before the interlocking building system was developed in 1955, “LEGO® Town Plan,” on display, launched the first “Play and Learn” LEGO concept.

Tournament Yo-Yo (1960s) from Duncan®
Introduced in 1929, kids have spent hours mastering tricks with a Duncan Yo-Yo. Featuring a classic shape, the “Crossed Flags” Yo-Yo from the 1960s is from the last wooden Tournament Yo-Yo line.

TRANSFORMERS action figures (1984) from Hasbro®
The TRANSFORMERS brand first rolled onto shelves in 1984 with “ROBOTS IN DISGUISE,” which included first edition AUTOBOTS on display in the gallery, such as OPTIMUS PRIME, BUMBLEBEE, GEARS and CLIFFJUMPER.
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