Continuing my interest in the history of toys: Have there been any famous individual toys besides Winnie the Pooh and Paddington Bear? (Both were inspired by actual stuffed animals.)

By individual I mean real and singular toys that somehow entered popular awareness, whether as the basis of a work of fiction, or by association with a famous person, event, or image, etc. I'm not looking for information on famous toy lines and types, and not toys that originated as fiction. Info about all that is common online. (Which makes Googling my actual question pretty tricky.)

It's within the question parameters if a famous toy originated as part of a line, or was eventually featured in a piece of fiction, but for this question I'm only asking about toys that were arguably famous as or originated in significant individual objects, not just types. For example, Winnie the Pooh was based on Christopher Milne's bear, not teddy bears in general. Thanks for your time.

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    Seems to be an open ended type question. No single correct answer. – justCal Jul 26 '18 at 1:03
  • I'd argue that because the list of candidates is likely to be very, very short a definitive answer is quite possible. – Random Jul 26 '18 at 1:31
  • Instead of voting to close I'd appreciate it if people would offer solutions to better the question. Without any serious disrespect, I suspect that if I had asked, say, "Which high medieval English kings were the most internationally renowned?" or the like, the reaction here would be very different. A list, or a "which is most", question is not inherently too broad, just potentially. – Random Jul 26 '18 at 2:19
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    Given the constraints of the question, I don't think this is too broad and it's quite hard to research (I've tried). If I'm proved wrong by a flood of answers, I'll vote to close but, for the moment, I think the question just needs a little editing for clarity. – Lars Bosteen Jul 26 '18 at 4:06
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    You state "not toys that originated as fiction" but both of the examples you give of toys are based on fiction. The modern "Winnie the Pooh" and "Paddington Bear" toys are based on the (artists impressions of) fictional characters not on the toys that inspired the stories. Any fame that the original bears have is post-hoc (i.e. they only became "famous" as inspiration once the fictional characters became popular). – KillingTime Jul 26 '18 at 6:44

I'm not sure how we're going to measure fame here, but one very well-known toy, widely manufactured after a single physical original is Raggedy Ann. The original doll was assembled by members of Johnny Gruelle's family, and after he wrote books about her she became widely copied. For more information see this collection of antique and modern Anns.

A collection of Raggedy Anns

  • That’s just the sort of thing I was looking for, thanks. – Random Jul 26 '18 at 15:35

Fame is very much in the eye of the beholder, which makes your question difficult. The same goes for the definition of toy.

And these days the relationship between fiction and toys is fluid -- is Star Wars a media series with lots of merchandise, or the other way around.

That being said:

  • Model railways and the people who use them were present in popular awareness in the last century -- jokes about fathers getting their sons toys because they want to "play" themselves, and so on. Railways is a generic category, but each country had a few major brands.
  • Lego. Millions of children playing with it, and Lego has become a catchword for assembling things with standard connectors. Lego Genetics on TVTropes.
  • Before that, metal construction sets. Meccano in the UK, Märklin in Germany.

Or do those fail the "individual" test of your question? I'd call the basic box of those construction sets one toy, because you get nowhere with a single screw or girder.

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