Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Marx Old Jalopy

Welcome to 2013! I am soooo glad last year is over and hope this year will be better. Overall, for me at least, it wasn't really a bad year but there was a fair amount of stress and it would be great if this year was a bit tamer. I hope that you and yours have a great year as well.

If you're new to Toys & Stuff, welcome aboard. While the blog is mostly about toys, every now and then the topic drifts to something else, therefore putting the 'stuff' in Toys & Stuff. Please become a 'Follower' and keep up with posts. Although it's a generic type of toy blog we do lean heavily on the following toys:

-Tin-litho buildings
-Trains; toy trains, scale model trains, vintage ads/timetables/post cards, etc
 HEAVY on the Milwaukee Road
-Vintage toy catalogs (mostly Marx so far)
-Marx toys in general
-Fire and emergency toys
-Lord of the Rings
-Sci-Fi and Space
-Paper/Cardboard buildings and villages - mostly vintage
-Super hero toys - HEAVY on Batmobiles and Villain-mobiles
-Planes, tin-litho and plastic
-Dioramas/displays. As time permits I like to build simple, but nice,
 displays or dioramas and these are covered in multi-part series.

The main thrust is toys from the '50s and '60s but there are certainly plenty of older and newer things in the mix.

Okay, on to the first post of 2013. Let's start the new year with something old - very old - Marx's 'Old Jalopy' from the late 1920s & 1930s. If toys are window to the past then this toy is looking into the Loony Bin window! The 1920s and '30s were known for their zany, madcap comedies. From the frenetic nuttiness of the Keystone Cops and Buster Keaton of the silent film era to films like 'Bringing Up Baby' and 'The Thin Man' series of the 1930s, the country had gone screwball. Marx capitalized on this with its release of the Limping Lizzie in the late 1920s. My earliest reference is the Sears catalog of 1927 see below.

The toy is made of stamped sheet metal, has a wind-up mechanism, and measures 7" (17.8cm) L x 4" (10.2cm) W x 4" (10.2cm) H. It's based on the Ford Model T (or Tin Lizzie) and features a deliberately bent rear axle making it roll in a wobbly fashion. The body is peppered with crazy, witty graffiti which pays homage to the zaniness of the times. Marx made several variations of the Tin Lizzie: Limping Lizzie, Campus Express, and Old Jalopy (our featured toy) each one having a slightly different paint scheme and a different set of graffiti. But Marx didn't stop there, offering several other vehicles covered in graffiti and sporting wobbly or goofy wind-up mechanisms like the Amos and Andy Fresh Air Taxi, Joy Rider, and Whoopie Car.
This car also brings up another point; to dispel the time-worn - and inaccurate - adage of "They don't make them like they used to." In point of fact, not all toys made back then were strong, sturdy, and capable of taking a lot of punishment. The sheet metal used on many Marx toys, as well as other manufacturers, was rather thin and held together by tab-&-slot construction. This is NOT the toy junior could lean down on with his weight and push along the floor. If he did, he likely wound up with a broken toy! The wheels on these toys were tin-litho just like the bodies and the litho was easily rubbed off during play, leaving the bared metal underneath susceptible to rust. Fortunately the litho on my example is fairly intact. The springs on these old vehicles are often weak and many times the wind-up mechanism doesn't work. I can't honestly say how strong the springs were when these were new (hey, I'm not that old!) but I'm willing to bet decades of use and simply being wound-up in one position weakens them considerably. Without the box, a car like this sells anywhere from $130 - $200, even with defective spring mechanism. Having the box commands more of course. Don't pay over $80 for a rust-bucket as there are plenty of examples available in fairly good condition. Me & my Beautiful Wife Love This Marx Old Jalopy Enjoy :)