Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Milton Bradley's 1957 Chrysler Test Driver Game


Milton Bradley made lots of games that were tie-ins with television shows and movies, but so far as I know, this was their only tie-in with a car company. It's a fairly straightforward game, using sticks with magnets to grab and pull plastic markers (with metal tabs) through the rough demands that every Chrysler was required to endure before being displayed in showrooms across the country. Each marker is a generic finned Chrysler product, cast in different colored plastic, but we'll forgive them for going to the trouble of featuring those swell drawings of Plymouth, Dodge, DeSoto and Chrysler next to each one. Because only four could play, Imperial was omitted but it was included as part of the board art.




The large game board is a large, thick, plastic coated paper which somehow over the last fifty-four years has remained completely intact. Note the three dimensional paper cutouts.

A view across the game board showing its three dimensional paper cutouts.

Details of the game board:


I told you there was an Imperial.

This keen comic book was included, which was doubtlessly also a dealer giveaway since the game is advertised in the center spread.











According to his bio in IMDB, Bill Lundigan, 1914-1975, hosted CBS programs Climax! and Shower of Stars (both 1954), and delivered sponsor Chrysler's commercials. He traveled over 100,000 miles as their goodwill ambassador, visiting 560,000 people in 90 weeks. One presumes he and his wife were given shiny new Chryslers in gratitude for all that.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Pyro Plastics' design sets, circa 1960

Fifty years ago, future architects, car designers and airplane designers didn't have home computers, but they did have the Pyro Plastics company (history here) which manufactured three interesting building sets with the more intellectual child in mind than usually played with Kenner sets and Lincoln Logs. I remember seeing them in offbeat places like trading stamp redemption centers rather than, say, standard department stores.
I myself had this set. While fun, I never understood the claim one could build four thousand models. I think they were cheating it a bit, by at least 3,900. One did not glue these sets if one didn't want to, so one could endlessly construct and reconstruct. The pieces fit together easily and held reasonably well. Included was a paper slide rule I could never figure out, which probably partly explains why I didn't end up designing planes.
I also wanted Design-a-Car.
The box art for the basic Design-a-House set. I've never seen a master set. If there's someone out there who has one, I'd love to see some pictures. I used to play with a friend's set and always wanted one myself. That finally happened when ebay shook out the attics and basements all over the world. Though easy to assemble, it's probably as close as any mere toy got to looking like a genuine architectural model.
A quick example of what one can begin do with the set. There are a lot more pieces in the box. The panels, shown as stud walls, can be covered in various shades of colored paper (included) to make them opaque. Rooflines can designed to be sloped or flat. One can design one or two story houses, in mid-century modern, of course. There are kitchen cabinets, bathroom fixtures, even a tiny toilet, cast in popular turquoise.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

1959-1960 diecast 87th scale model cars

I have a distinct memory of my mother buying me a few tiny diecast cars at Kresge's. They were sold separately in tiny, individual cardboard boxes and were ten cents apiece. For years I tried to find out who made these strange little models which I remembered as being reasonably well detailed for their size, but for years no model experts on the internet seemed to know. Then one day, I found this website and from there I sought out and actually found two nearly complete sets on Ebay imported by Ahi, Inc. The name is not, alas, Japanese, as one might expect. It stands for the distinctly non-Japanese sounding Azrak-Hamway International. There were at least four sets of American cars (1957 though 1960 model years) and at least one set of foreign cars as well as sets of 'old timers', military vehicles and road equipment vehicles. In these sets, a dozen cars were displayed individually in tiny plastic showcases. Admittedly the sculpting is somewhat crude but they are still recognizable with specific features on grills and hand painted trims. I must admit I still find them rather endearing, mostly because it makes me recall that one day long ago in Kresge's at Bacon's Shopping Center in Louisville, KY. Each is slightly less than 2" long.
1959 Buick
1959 Cadillac
1959 Chevrolet
1959 DeSoto
1959 Chrysler
1959 Dodge
1959 Ford
1959 Oldsmobile
1959 Plymouth
1959 Pontiac
1959 Rambler
1960 Buick
1960 Cadillac
1960 Chevrolet
1960 DeSoto
1960 Dodge
1960 Edsel
1960 Ford Falcon
1960 Lincoln
1960 (?) Opel Capitan
1960 (?) Volkswagen
1960 (?) Daimler DK400 Limousine