Toys reflect the life of the times with dolls dressed in popular styles, small automobiles that look like the newest models or even the imagined car of the future. But some old favorites are updated and soon there are collectors for each new version.

The Slinky toy, considered too simple to be popular with children, was born of an accident. A naval engineer who was working with torsion springs watched one fall out of the box and “walk” across the table. He started changing tie coils to get an improved spring that would curl up when at rest but expand and walk when given a nudge. Toy buyers thought it dull and too lacking in color to excite kids, so the inventor, Richard James, did the marketing himself. He demonstrated the toys in department stores in 1945 and started a craze. Slinky was inexpensive and simple to use and millions have been sold.

I remember seeing my children starting Slinkys in a race down the stairs over and over again. Today you can buy a Slinky with the head, legs and tail of a dog or a special edition original steel wire Slinky in a box that has almost the same design as the original box. The movie Toy Story introduced Slinky to a new young audience. There is a large Toy Story Slinky dog and a windup Toy Story Slinky Dog. A mini Kitahara Slinky dog was copied from the Kitahara pull toy on wheels. There are also seven different colored plastic springs and a retro 1950s dog available. And there are out-of-production Slinkys including Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Slinky Worm and the set of Three Little Pigs Slinkys. Slinky is a historic toy, listed in the Toy Hall of Fame, and it is still being made in new forms to collect. And you can still race it down most low flights of stairs.

Photo:  Bremo Auctions





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