At its height British toymaking was a significant industry, with famous names such as Britains and Meccano known throughout the world. While in essence a specialized form of small-scale engineering, its products and market have always been unique, reflecting the current priorities of both parents and children. This work provides an example of the development of a specific industry over a period of 300 years. Many early toys were homemade. From the 18th century, with its growing recognition of children as something other than small adults, date the beginnings of specialized toys, usually produced by small workshops and sold by street sellers. The 19th century, with its industrial growth and middle-class prosperity, saw an expansion of toymaking. The 1960s and 1970s were the most successful years of British toymaking, with companies like Lesney making record profits. Yet the British toy makers failed to solve a number of fundamental problems. Marketing and financial control remained weak, and British companies were slow to realise the potential of computerized games.Following an unexpected sudden downturn in sales at a time of high interest rates, the major names in British toy making, Lesney, Airfix, Mettoy and Dunbee Combex Marx, all collapsed between 1979 and 1985, leaving the business to be dominated largely by importers.
The British Toy Business
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