The 1920s were a special time for toys mostly due to advancements in manufacturing as well as the popularity of the radio. Indeed, the radio made it possible from all over the world to “tune in” to the same voices, ideas, and fads. This is the beginning of “popular culture” as we know it today.
The impact of radio broadcasting on toys can’t be over-stated. Although hand-made toys remain popular through the 1920s and 1930s, this is really the beginning of the commercialization of toys.
Some top toys in the 1920s and 1930s
Another big change was the kinds of materials used in making these toys. While many toys were still made from wood and metal, the invention of polystyrene in 1927 created a huge opportunity for toy makers to produce dolls, toy cars and model sets more cheaply.
And at the end of the 1930s, another radical change: the first movie celebrity doll was created. This honor goes to the Scarlett O’Hara doll, produced in 1939 by the Madame Alexander toy company, who by the way, had just begun to outsell Raggedy Ann Dolls a few years prior. Times were a-changin’!
If you like reading about classic toys, check out our post on toys of the 1950s.