Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Marx Pressed Steel DC-3 (???) Plane

Okay, I think I'm gonna practice spittin' in the wind here today and try to see if anyone out there in toy collector land agrees with a point or an assessment I'm trying to make on this toy. This toy, in my lowly opinion, has been both inaccurately described and possibly inaccurately dated.

First of all, Greenberg's Guide to Marx Toys, Volume II by Maxine A. Pinsky lists today's featured plane as a DC-3. The listing is listed under the "MILITARY AIRPLANES" category as being made in the 1930's. I believe the listing is wrong on most assuredly one count and quite possibly both. Okay, let me state my case here. BUT FIRST, I must say that the book itself is otherwise very well done, and errors are bound to creep in to any kind of descriptive listing, that's to be expected as records of the profduction of these toys are often times missing or sparse. Those of us who collect Marx trains have seen a number of errors in the Marx trains compendiums and it in no way detracts from all the hard work and effort that goes into making these books. All I'm attempting to do here is to set the record straight on one solitary toy. One little chunk o' metal. One toy plane. That's all.

As a preface I have to say that  I love how toys are designated by both the companies that made them as well as the people trying to describe them - they're both so imaginative but occassionally they're just flat out wrong! We've posted a bunch of aircraft over the years which were designated as one type of plane by the toy company when in fact they were another type of plane entirely. Do you recall the Daiya Vertol 107 we posted just last week which is actually a Boeing Vertol CH-47 Chinook? I can't possibly speculate on why toy comapnies would deliberately mis-name an aircraft unless it may have to do with the vagaries of licensing, every now and then they'll market a toy as being one type of aircraft when in fact it's something altogether different. Lots of designations are pure fantasy on the part of the toy maker as well - again perhaps because of licensing or possible trademark infringement issues.

Okay. Today's toy supposedly came out in the '30s, is supposedly a DC-3, and listed as a military toy.

- First: The DC-3, made by the Douglas Aircraft Company, is a civilian aircraft NOT a military aircraft. The civil version of the DC-3 was produced from 1935 - 1942 with just over 600 being made. The military version was the C-47 Skytrain, a modified version of the DC-3 which was produced from 1941-45.

During the pre-war years, toy aircraft design was for the most part more fanciful than realistic and Marx was one of those companies whose airplanes were more caricatures than highly detailed reproductions (I think pre-war Tootsietoy did a far better job at making toy aircraft that actually looked like the planes they were s'posed to represent). The 'caricature' trend continued after the war as Marx continued to produce planes which really didn't look prototypical. However, as we all know they did in fact start producing toys which were spot-on reproductions of the real thing. That could explain the following point I'm going to make.

-Second: The toy doesn't even look like a DC-3!! It just doesn't. Period. I believe this is a case of people who collect toy airplanes but couldn't tell the difference between the Wright Brothers bi-plane and the Space Shuttle. Just because you buy toys and put 'em on the shelf doesn't necessarily mean you know what the h _ _ _  they are! NOW If anyone out there can prove - I mean prove - beyond a shadow of a doubt that Marx designed this, named this, and marketed this toy as a DC-3 I'll back off of my claim.

So, here's a pic of what a DC-3 should look like. Notice how the top of the fuselage curves down to meet the cockpit glazing. The lower part of the cockpit windows then meets the nose at a sharp angle and the nose juts out from the window.

Courtesy Wikipedia

Here's the Marx 'DC-3'. Yeah, sorry but IF this is s'posed to be a DC-3 then Marx made one helluva caricature - like Bugs Bunny is a caricature of a real rabbit! This looks absolutely nothing like a DC-3 or a C-47. The fuselage is clearly cigar shaped.

The problem is the plane looks a whole lot more like the Curtiss C-46 Commando but apparently the toy came out prior to the introduction of the C-46 - hmmmm, aircraft company following toy comapny design??? Not really, but interesting. 

-Third: this toy is s'posed to be pre-war right? Look closely at the insignia on the wings. The toy is described as being available with red wings and blue wings. Red-winged versions are more 'detailed' in that they have more decalling. But in every case I've ever seen here's insignia used on the toy:

-The star-&-bar with red bars dissecting the formerly all white bar is a design which didn't appear until January of 1947! That makes the plane Post-war. Here's what the insignia would have looked like during the pre-war years. I have a really hard time with believing that Marx, as mighty a toy company as they were, was prescient enough to envision that there would be a change to aircraft markings in the coming decade!

Aug 1943 - Jan 1947
Courtesy Wikipedia

Jan 1947 - present

This design pre-dated the formation of the United States Air Force by eight months. The 'Air Force' as we know it became operational on 18 Sep, 1947 making this year its 70th anniversary.

Courtesy Wikipedia

Now that begs the question: If this toy was in fact produced before the war, how was it marked, because clearly the red-white-&-blue star-&-bar insignia wasn't even around then? And if this were in fact a post-war toy then it should be designated as a C-46 not a DC-3 by collector's because I'm willing to bet Marx didn't call it anything other than a toy plane and all designations other than 'toy plane' have been made by uninformed collector's. The toy measures 7 1/2" (19.05cm) L x 9 1/2" (24.13cm) wingspan x 2 1/4" (5.71cm) H. If I'm able to find any catalog or listing (other than the Greenberg book) which shows this to be a pre-war DC-3 I'll let ya guys know.

Enjoy! Opa Fritz and Oma Bettina

No comments:

Post a Comment