Wherever in the world today children play with toys, the odds are that their playthings will have been made in the Far East and carry the imprint of a major American Corporation like Mattel or Hasbro. It was not always so: for much of the twentieth century, it was the British firm of Lines Brothers which claimed to be the Earth's largest toy manufacturer, growing so rapidly after its foundation in the 1920s that it became the world's first multi-national toy enterprise. Aided by ownership of the internationally-renowned toy shop, Hamleys of London, manufacturing plants in Europe and the major countries of the Commonwealth made generations of children familiar with the firm's Tri-ang brand of pedal cars, dolls houses and prams, model railways, and soft toys, as well as other Lines' products such as Pedigree dolls, Minic tinplate, Arkitex construction kits, FROG model aircraft, and Spot On die-cast vehicles. Although it is now more than forty years since the Lines Brothers empire collapsed in spectacular fashion, these toys are all still eagerly sought by collectors today. Many of the original brand names survive, albeit under different ownership: so, too, does Hamleys, while iconic toys once in the Lines' stable such as Sindy, Scalextric model racing cars, Arrow jigsaw puzzles and Subbuteo table football, are still manufactured today. This book recounts the rise and fall of a blue-chip British company and its products: it is a story of both triumph and disaster.
About the Author
KENNETH D. BROWN is Professor Emeritus at Queen's University Belfast, former Pro-Vice Chancellor and Professor of Economic and Social History.