|Dollhouse cabinet from Wisconsin Toy Co.|
Photo: Tracy's Toys
Wisconsinites have been hand-making toys at home since the earliest inhabitants. Native peoples in Wisconsin would make dolls and mobiles for cribs and Laura Ingalls Wilder talked about making dolls, toy boats, and puppets while on the prairie. In the early 20th century, the Wisconsin Toy Co. made German-style dollhouses that were sent to little girls all over the country. These were usually handmade and done with the utmost attention to craftsmanship and detail.
|Kirsten, the Swedish American Girl doll|
Photo: American Girl
Another childhood favorite are Shrinky Dinks. Almost everybody in the 1980's had Shrinky Dinks, the bake-able plastic art medium. The idea began as a Cub Scout project in Brookfield. It was sold to Hasbro and entered the vocabulary of teenagers across the country. If you're looking for an especially retro brand of fun, check out their website. Rad.
As a boy, some of my favorite toys were Micro Machines. These miniscule cars were licensed from Clem Heeden of Sturgeon Bay. Produced by Galoob throughout the 1980's and 1990's, they sadly ended production before the millennium. However, they did leave us with some great YouTube classics!
If you'd like to continue Wisconsin's toy making heritage, there are a number of toy makers in the state. John Michael Linck makes traditional wooden toys here in Madison and there's always those Shrinky Dinks from North Lake!