Today is Fire Engine and Emergency Vehicle Friday on Toys & Stuff and here is a nifty toy dating from 1949 and made into the early 1950s - the NOSCO plastic Fire Engine with Siren. Believe it or not NOSCO Plastics started life as the National Organ Supply Company in 1920 selling metal organ pipes and other organ supplies. The NOSCO Plastics Division was founded as an off-shoot in 1935 when the owner realized the future lay in plastics. How right he was!
Our featured toy is one of the nicer hard plastic fire engines of the era and measures 8" (20.3cm) L x 3" (7.6cm) W x 2 1/2" 6.4cm) H. It's equipped with a white hard plastic ladder which rotates and raises, although there is no extension to it It comes with a separate oversize spade and ax in yellow hard plastic and six firemen figures; three seated and three standing. The bell, siren, and fire extinguisher are separate castings as well. The box art depicts three seated and three standing firemen but my toy came with two seated firemen in yellow hard plastic and four standing firemen in white hard plastic. I believe that my set is all original as the spade and ax were still in their cellophane wrapping (albeit very dried up/brittle and ready to fall apart) and the box showed little wear. It's not unusual for companies to make substitutions on the production line in the case of shortages. The fire engine has a combination friction motor, siren mechanism underneath the front wheels. but my example really didn't sound very impressive.
The one really unusual feature of this toy are the firemen. They are all done in flat profile versus fully rounded figures and they plug into any of the myriad slots located all around the fire engine. What I imagine would have been frustrating to a youngster wanting to 'play fireman' is the inability to stand the figures up on their own as a result of the tabs sticking below their feet! But then, as now, there would have been plenty of separate sale firemen figures to choose from in stores. Still, it's a terrific toy from a bygone era and for the Fire Engine and Emergency Vehicle toy collector I consider it one of the essentials. Enjoy!