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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
The Louis Marx Company was founded in 1919 (?) by Louis Marx after he left his position of managing director at Ferninand Strauss. FJ Strauss made tin toys. Louis Marx began working for Strauss at the age of 16 (?) and left there at the age of 20 (?). He then started (?) his own business located at 200 Fifth Avenue in New York City (?). A few years later, his brother David joined the company to run their business operations. Marx is more known for their train sets and Disneykin figurines but also made several lines of diecast model vehicles during their manufacturing history.


By 1937, Marx had three American factory locations and had opened a fourth plant in the UK that operated until 1967. Production continued to grow upward until World War II when they were converted to the war efforts. Marx quickly returned to making toys after the war ended and continued their success story.


In 1947, they made four 1:43 scale die-cast mazak (Zamac) vehicles under the Toby Toys (UK) brand name. These were crude models painted in one body color and no added details - a fire engine, breakdown lorry, roadster and saloon vehicle were avaialble.


Marx Toys made their own named first diecast vehicles in 1950.

The 1950's also saw more growth for Louis Marx & Co. They were producing 20% of the toys in America and had factories located in more than ten other countries. Linemar and Distler are (2) examples of their overseas companies operating under the Marx umbrella. In December of 1955, Time magazine referred to Louis Marx as "The Toy King". Noting that his annual advertising budget was only $312, but they had $30 million in sales and a catalogue of over 5000 different toy products. Marx's advertising strategy changed with the large adaptation of television. Their first advertising campaign was in the summer of 1959, and established Marx as a household name.


In the late 1960s, they were having their diecasts made in Hong Kong. Their "Mini Marx Blazer Series" with 'Super Speed Wheels' came in clear plastic bags. The "Champion Grade Blazer" castings were available on blister cards. And the "Super Speed Car" came in a box.

In 1969, they offered a track set called "Instant Speedway Action Set". The set included 'speedway strips' (track) and a 'stunt driver' loop.

Their "Bulldog" series was made up of 4 trucks with light up head lamps. They were also available as "Electric Light Trucks with Speed Wheels".

Many of their other castings were made in various scale sizes, with different wheel sets and interior designs. The Jaguar XKE came with a driver, with only a printed image of an interior on a piece of card board - attached to the floorboard or with no interior at all. The VW Beetle and Camaro are also known with a driver figure. @z28lsc gives this progression history on configurations -

1) old wheels no base and no interior,
2) old wheels no base with paper interior
3) new wheels with base and no interior,
4) new wheels with base and paper interior
5) new wheels with base and plastic interior with driver.

A rare and unique casting is the mirrored plastic bodied Camaro. Made in a slightly larger size with a metal base it is similar to those Eldon and Aurora had made.

David C W Yeh worked for Marx for 8 years and was able to make many business connections with other companies both in Hong Kong and America during his time there before starting his own business called Universal Group Products.


In the 1970s, Marx issued their "Mini Marx" series. Like the Tootsie Toy Jam Pacs, they were of a one piece body design with 4 posts to support the wheel sets and no interiors. Though some did have a flat printed image cardboard interior insert.

In the early 1970s, under Fundimensions (?), Lionel made a group of semi trucks based on Marx models.

In 1976, the British company of Dunbee Combex Marx Ltd, acquired Shuco. However; no Shuco diecast were produced during this brief ownershp time frame.

In 1979 (?), Marx sold his company to Quaker Oats for $52 (?) million. Three years later, Quaker had sold the Marx company to England's Dunbee-Combex-Marx, who managed to keep the businesses afloat until they themselves filed for bankruptcy in 1980. Dunbee-Combex had purchased the Marx (UK) subsidiary company back in 1967.


Louis Marx died in 1982 (?) at the age of 85, however, his memory remains in the toys he left to us.

American Plastic Equipment of Florida has resurrected the Marx name by acquiring the company's assets in 1982, and the intellectual rights in 1988. By then, collector markets had made a huge increase in the value of Marx toys that lead to reissues of the toy line.


In 1995, Marx Toy Corp., was founded in Sebring, Ohio. The Marx legacy continues as the new company began making toys from the molds used by Marx as well as other defunct toy brand companies.


As of 2006, Marx Toy Corp was still doing business from Sebring, Ohio.


Known Series

Bulldog
Elegant Miniatures
Marx Miniature Cars



Sourced references -

HobbyTalk members - @ Chris Sweetman @z28lsc @69ch
Louis Marx & Company | hobbyDB
Encyclopedia of Small-Scale Diecast Motor Vehicle Manufacturers - Sahakangas, Foster & Weber (2006)
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Today a made a few updates to the Marx history along date lines and references. I also merged the Toby Toys diecast series into the history from a see also reference.
 

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Yes, if you were a kid in the '50s or '60s you were very familiar with Marx Toys. They advertised on TV a great deal and always figured prominently in the Sears Christmas Catalog (the bible of cool kid stuff back then). While they made diecast vehicles, they were probably best known for the marvelous themed playsets such as those about Roy Rogers, The Alamo and those marvelous multi-level gas station/auto shops. I had one of those with the printed sheet metal walls and the elevator to the upper level. I think I may still have a gas pump or two somewhere...
 
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