Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mascon Toy Co. article – Oct. 28, 1968 Part 2

Here's the second half of the article written by Bob Cotleur about Fred Donnell, the president of Lorain's Mascon Toy Company. It contains some interesting reflections by Mr. Donnell about what makes a good toy, as well as some thoughts about toy guns.

The article ran in The Journal on October 28, 1968.

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The Mascon Toy Co.
Fred Donnell: He Makes Toys – Part 2
By BOB COTLEUR
Staff Writer
Donnell said the industry today is American. "Before World War I most toys were made in Germany. Japan made some, but American manufacturers jumped at the chance created by the war. We ourselves, are an infinitely small part of the total toy market. We're only the largest in our own field."

He doesn't make gun-toys although he said guns were "a fifth of the industry." He also said war games and guns don't sell as well in wartime as during peace. He said this year some major department stores won't offer guns of any kind, even cowboys and Indian types.

"But I don't object to guns. Kids like them. And I'd want my own child to learn which end of the gun is the hot end."

DONNELL SAID the toy industry is like the auto industry. "A good idea must be kept under lock and key. This is the only industry where 60 percent of the annual sales result in packages being opened on one single day of the year – Christmas."

Because of that the plant operates from a production high of about 250 people in August to an unnumbered low in December.

The lines themselves are fascinating and what you might expect of Santa's workshop except the gnomes and elves are adult women, mostly wearing a blue smock. One sprays a color, another puts a spring inside, a third hammers two halves together, a fourth tests the toy (and how does she explain that job at home?).

"Toys," Donnell said, "are lovable. And some are socialized. This minibus has six riders. And who are the six? It's mother, father, brother, sister, Uncle somebody or another. The child names them."

He held up a fire engine with a four-man crew.

"Notice that one fireman is painted yellow. The rest are blue. The child knows the social order, that all aren't equal. The man in yellow is evidently boss.

"The best sellers in toys are those that mimic adult life. Give the child the right toys, one that stimulates imagination, and you are talking about the future leaders of the world. A child wants to be anything but what he really is. Toys give him that outlet."

FRED DONNELL AND his wife Patricia live at 425 Rock Creek Run, Amherst. Two sons by an earlier marriage include Fred III, 23, with the computer division of United Airlines on the west coast, and I'm [sic], 21, with the army in training at Ft. Knox.

Even toymaker Donnell knows that created toys aren't the whole answer. He once bought his sons $10 worth of scrap lumber "when you got something for the $10."

The boys built a fort with only a little help from dad. "It wasn't perfect, but what the hell..."

Donnell has another vantage point of viewing the toy world.

"The birth rate interests me. The death rate doesn't."

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Lorain-made Mascon toy from the LCHS exhibition
(courtesy WEOL.northcoastnow.com website)
The Lorain County Historical Society (LCHS) is featuring a Vintage Toy Exhibition at the Lorain County History Center from December 3, 2013 through January 31, 2014. The exhibition features 30 vintage toys from the LCHS collection, as well as some from private collections.

Many Lorain-made toys made by the Mascon Toy Company are included in the exhibit. Click here for more information about the exhibition.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's too bad they don't ever have special exhibits like this toy one at the LC Visitor's Center on Rt. 58 (closer to me than the LCHC). They had a gingerbread house contest there a few years back but other than that they never seem to have anything there......

Jake Roberts said...
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