Kenner Toy Symposium on December 12th at main branch of the Cincinnati public library

Kenner Collector Pre-Toy Fair Cincinnati

Our Kenner toy exhibit on display at the main branch of the Cincinnati library was just one piece of the Kenner goodness taking place there!  On Saturday, December 12th, the library will be hosting a day-long Kenner Toy Symposium that will run from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  There will be Kenner toy commercials shown, discussion panels with ex-Kenner employees, a screening of Brian Stillman’s excellent Star Wars toy documentary Plastic Galaxy, and so much more.

This will be a great chance to meet and interact with legendary Kenner employees like Corky Steiner, the son and nephew of Kenner’s founders, Star Wars toy creators Jim Swearingen and Tom Osborne, and many more!  If you are at all interested in learning about how your favorite Kenner toys were made, or the inner workings of the greatest toy company of all time, you cannot miss this event!

The complete schedule for the day is below:

Kenner Toy Symposium —Saturday, Dec. 12, 10 a.m. –5:30 p.m.

In celebration of the exhibits and upcoming release of The Force Awakens, the Main Library will host a special day-long symposium with former Kenner employees. All events will take place in the Main Library’s Reading Garden Lounge. No registration is required.

Kenner History, 10 a.m.–noon

Corky Steiner, the son and nephew of Kenner’s founders, will retell the history of the company through 50 years of vintage Kenner toy commercials wrapped into two 20-minute segments. The segments will be followed with a Q&A session featuring former Kenner executives.

The Phases of Kenner Toys, 1–3:15 p.m.

Take an in-depth look at the various phases of the Kenner Toy company from the 1950s to ‘90s. Session will feature actual video interviews with the leadership that guided Kenner in the post Steiner era from 1972 to its closing in 2000. A Q&A session with Kenner employees will follow.

  • 1950–1970s: A family business to General Mills management
  • 1970s–1980s: General Mills to Tonka
  • 1990s–2000: Hasbro’s acquisition of Kenner and Hasbro’s consolidation of its various entities to their Rhode Island general offices in 2000.

Plastic Galaxy Screening, 3:30–4:30 p.m.

Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys, directed by Brian Stillman, examines the history and pop-culture impact of Kenner’s of Star Wars toy line.

Panel discussion with Star Wars toy designers, 4:30–5:30 p.m.

Moderated by director Brian Stillman, this panel discussion will feature original Star Wars toy designers Jim Swearingen and Tom Osborne.

To get all of the details in one place, visit the library’s dedicated Kenner Toys website.


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Kenner Collector’s history of Kenner toys exhibit at Cincinnati public library

Just in Time for Holidays Kenner Library Exhibit

Kenner Collector is proud to present a new exhibit called Just in Time for the Holidays: Kenner Toys, located on display at the main downtown branch of The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.  The exhibit features Kenner toys and historical items spanning the entire life of the company, beginning with the late 1940’s all the way through to the company’s final days in Cincinnati.  The exhibit will officially open on November 20th, and run through January 16th of next year.

This will be a great chance to see lots of fun and rare Kenner toys and collectibles from the glory days of the beloved Cincinnati based company.  See your favorite toy lines from your childhood including Star Wars, Strawberry Shortcake, Easy-Bake Oven, and many more!  Some of the rare items on display include Kenner’s first toy, the Bubbl-Matic gun, the infamous Daddy Saddle, and the Pigtail Play-Wig, just to name a few!

Kenner Collector Cincinnati Library Exhibit

Kenner Collector Cincinnati Library Exhibit

The library is located at 800 Vine Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202.  The exhibit is on the third floor of the main library, in the Joseph S. Stern, Jr. Cincinnati Room.  Check the website for hours.  You can even visit the famous Kroger building (home of Kenner from 1976 to 1992) while you are there!

Kenner Collector Cincinnati Library Kroger Building

The Gooney Crew responsible for the display:

KennerCollector Cincinnati Library Group

Pictured from left to right: Josh Blake, Joe Ilagan, Dan Flarida, and Steve Meister

The Kenner Collector toy exhibit is only one part of the Kenner and toy related activities the Cincinnati library has planned over the next couple months.  From the library:

Another Kenner exhibit, Beloved Toys, will be located on the first floor in the Popular Library Exhibit Area and will take a fun look as people’s childhood memories of their favorite Kenner toys. On other floors in the Library, display cases will contain Kenner toys catalogs from 1966 to 1990, depicting the company’s marketing strategies of their products throughout the decades. Also featured will be a special case that explores the origins of Star Wars toys, with images of the first prototypes created by Kenner and presented to Star Wars filmmakers in March of 1977. Images are provided by Jim Swearingen , the principal conceptual designer for Kenner’s original line of Star Wars toys.

Smaller displays will focus on other Cincinnati toy companies like, Doepke Toys, which made toys of steel in the 1940s and 50s, Stuart Toys, which produced western miniatures and science sets in the 1950s and 1960s, and Poynter Products, which made humorous toys such as the Thing Coin Box and Uncle Fester’s Lightbulb. Both toys were featured on the 1960s’ show The Adams Family.

There will also be toys on display by Bang Zoom Design, a Cincinnati product invention company that carries on the spirit of toy making here in the Queen City. Bang Zoom, based in Eden Park since 1991, has made many designs for toy lines including Elmo, Monsters University, and Dora the Explorer.

Finally, learn the origins of three toys that got their start here in the Greater Cincinnati area: the Magic Eight Ball, Uno Cards, and Pound Puppies. All exhibits start on Friday November 20th and run until Saturday Jan 16th.

Also, save December 12th on your calendar for Kenner Day at the Cincinnati Library!

On Saturday December 12th the Main Library will host a day-long symposium with Kenner employees and executives who will give an insider’s look into this innovative company. Also showing will be the documentary Plastic Galaxy The Story of Star Wars Toys which examines the history and pop-culture impact of Kenner’s Star Wars toy line.

Complete details can be found here at the Library website.


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Starting Lineup collector Joe Curcio on NFL Films Presents


I’m excited to share something that fellow Kenner Collector and friend Joe Curcio is involved in.  Back in the spring, NFL Films contacted Joe about his Kenner Starting Lineup football collection, and wanted to meet with him to do an interview.  NFL Films actually visited him first for a pre-interview, visited one of his ice cream shops, and then went back for the full TV interview.

Unproduced, production quality prototypes

The interview was about a 5 or 6 hour process, and Joe thinks it was one of the greatest things he has ever experienced with his Starting Lineup collection.  Well, the time has come and the air date is set.  Even though Joe doesn’t think it will be a super long interview since it’s only a half hour show, I can’t wait to check it out!

The name of the show is “NFL Films Presents” and the title of this episode will be “The Long and Short of It”

Thursday, November 19th, 10:30 a.m. Eastern time on Fox Sports 1
Friday, November 20th, 3:00 p.m. Eastern time on Fox Sports 1
Saturday, November 21st, 10:30 a.m. Eastern time on NFL Network.

Unproduced, hand-painted prototype

Support your fellow Kenner Collector and check it out!  Also, check out an interview we did with Joe back in 2011!


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Kenner Fall ’78 Star Wars supplement

Many collectors have seen various vendor catalogs, typically called ‘Toy Fair’ catalogs because they were sent out around Toy Fair to promote the new and existing lines to vendors.  These catalogs contain nice photos of the toys, descriptions, case packing information, ordering numbers, box measurements, store display suggestions and more.  Often, Kenner would supplement these annual catalogs with inserts or additional fliers when the occasion warranted it.

For collectors, the toy fair catalogs are fairly easy to obtain, particularly for the Star Wars years from 1977-86.  Supplements are quite another story.  I’m not particularly sure that we are even aware of all that may have been produced over the years.  This entry showcases a little known insert focused on Star Wars merchandising plans from Fall of 1978.

Click to view images of each page (use controls at bottom of enlarged image to navigate):

The interior pages describe the TV marketing campaign underway and Kenner’s investment of four million dollars into television ad spending, including one million alone into the ‘new Star Wars commercial featuring R2-D2 and C-3PO’ set to air during the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special (November, 1978).

Kenner naturally, and rightfully, trumpets their success with Star Wars toys at this early stage, indicating their unprecedented support in marketing and developing their license for the most popular movie of all time.  They declare their plans to feature Star Wars ads for not only the sponsored Holiday Special, but also during other family specials like Puff the Magic Dragon, Bugs Bunny, How the West Was Won and Snoopy Come Home.  As they say in the supplement, “Kenner is reaching virtually every kid in America with a gigantic TV campaign…”

The supplement goes on to note that four million Star Wars catalogs will be distributed to Burger Chef restaurants to further promote the license.  Finally, “Cheerios” joins the Force, with special poster premiums and Kenner rebates, supported by a newspaper ad campaign designed for the comic section.  In all, seven other cereals would also include various Kenner rebates and Star Wars premiums inside.

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Kenner Power Movers road crew mail-in set of three hard copy 4ups

Kenner Power Movers Road Crew 4up Prototypes

Kenner’s Power Movers toy line had a relatively short shelf life as far as toys go, lasting only a couple of years between 1982 and 1983.  The line of trucks and military vehicles were battery operated and claimed to have real hydraulic working features, just like their full size counterparts.  In 1983, Kenner introduced a mail-in offer for a set of three small plastic construction men and numerous road side accessories.

This is a set of three painted prototype 4ups for the Power Movers road crew.  4ups were a key part of Kenner’s toy creation process, and they were given that name because they were approximately four times the size of the desired end product.  Artists would create the original sculpts of the toys at this larger size,  allowing them to put a higher level of detail into the pieces.  Silicone molds would be created off the sculpts, and then resin 4ups like you see here would be cast from the silicone molds.  The higher level of detail could then be transferred from the resin 4ups over to the production tooling for the small toys.

This similar process was used in the creation of Kenner’s Star Wars Micro Collection.  For more information about 4ups and how they were used in the prototyping process, visit our friends over at the Star Wars Collectors Archive.  Prepare to spend days absorbing all of the great info there!

Painted 4ups such as these could have been used for internal presentations of the mail-in offer, catalog photography, or perhaps even displayed at Toy Fair.

Kenner Power Movers Road Crew 4up Prototypes

These 4ups are made from a dense resin material called Dynacast.  You can see the green Dynacast showing through on the bottom of the unpainted bases.  The pinkish material you see was used to fill in any imperfections caused by air holes.

Kenner Power Movers Road Crew 4up Prototypes

Here is a page from the 1983 Toy Fair catalog showing the mail-in offer and road crew set.

Kenner Power Movers Road Crew 4up Prototypes 1983 Toy Fair Catalog

Here are some images of the production mail-in set and instructions.

Kenner Power Movers Road Crew 4up Prototypes

Kenner Power Movers Road Crew 4up Prototypes

To give an idea of the scale, the largest 4up measures 6 3/4″ high and the comparable plastic figure measures 1 5/8″ high.

Kenner Power Movers Prototype Hard Copy 4up

Kenner Power Movers Road Crew 4up Prototypes

Kenner Power Movers Road Crew 4up Prototypes

Kenner Power Movers Road Crew 4up Prototypes

Kenner Power Movers Road Crew 4up Prototypes

If anyone has any additional information about these Power Movers 4ups, we would love to hear from you!


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Kenner Strawberry Shortcake Strawberryland Miniatures Special Offer Set

Strawberry Shortcake Strawberryland Miniatures Special Offer Set

This Strawberry Shortcake Strawberryland Miniatures set is a great example of the Special Offer toys Kenner released in the late 70’s and early 80’s.  The Special Offer items were a way for Kenner to provide department stores with exclusive/added value toys.  The Special Offer advertisements were sometimes added to the package as a sticker, or printed directly onto the packaging like in this case.

For Strawberry Shortcake, Kenner packaged three miniatures together along with a cardboard backdrop.  The Strawberryland Garden Collector Set includes Apple Dumplin with Tea Time Turtle, Strawberry Shortcake with watering can, and Lemon Meringue.

Strawberry Shortcake Strawberryland Miniatures Special Offer Set

The back of the package also shows two other sets:

The House Collector Set – Raspberry Tart with a bowl of berries, Strawberry Shortcake with Custard, and Blueberry Muffin with her basket.

The Bakery Collector Set – Huckleberry Pie with Pupcake, Strawberry Shortcake with 3 berries, and Apricot with her bunny Hopsalot.

Strawberry Shortcake Strawberryland Miniatures Special Offer Set

The set contains a cardboard backdrop that measures about 4 1/2″ tall x 9″ wide, and also a small product catalog.

Strawberry Shortcake Strawberryland Miniatures Special Offer Set

The backdrop has die-cut windows that can be opened to create extra play value.

Strawberry Shortcake Strawberryland Miniatures Special Offer Set

Back in the day, the Special Offer toys probably really jumped out at kids and parents as they were walking down the toy aisles.  Today, the familiar red, yellow, and black offers also stand out to collectors.  The Special Offer toys are highly sought after additions to any collection.


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Kenner Fast 111’s double-sided metal store display

Kenner Fast111s Double-Sided Metal Store DisplayKenner store displays, or POP (Point of Purchase) displays as they are sometimes called,  are a really fun segment of toy collecting.  Kenner produced many different types of store displays over the years to help sell their product lines.  Some displays are relatively simple like printed cardboard shelf talkers, and others are so large and elaborate that you are in awe when you see them.  Individual displays and display sets could be purchased by toy store owners for use in their stores.  In some cases, the displays were thrown in as a perk to encourage large orders, or given to large retailers in hopes they would display them in the toy aisles.

This Fast 111’s store display is a large double-sided metal sign measuring 29 3/8″ wide x 15 7/8″ tall.  The display is made from two identical metal halves that are riveted together.  This allowed it to hang from the ceiling and be seen from both sides.  The display features the Kenner and FAST 111’s logo, as well as the tag line ONE OF A KIND LICENSE PLATES!  It also has the following copyright information on it:  ©CPG Products Corp. 1981, a subsidiary of General Mills, Inc. by its Division Kenner Products, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202.

One of the coolest parts of this sign is that many of the details are actually press formed into the metal to create a 3-dimensional effect.  You can see the raised areas in the image below:

Kenner Fast111s Double-Sided Metal Store Display

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Kenner’s hand crocheted Pigtail Play-Wig

Kenner Pigtail Play-WigIf you thought the Daddy Saddle was as far out there as Kenner dared to venture, think again.  Yes you are looking at a play wig Kenner marketed and sold in 1958.  What little  girl didn’t want to run around with a hand crocheted wool wig on her head?  I love this goofy thing!

Let me introduce you to Kenner’s Pigtail Play-Wig.  It ‘s a hand crocheted, wool wig that kids could wear.  I can only imagine how dirty and nasty this thing would get after a hard day of playing.  Would have been funny to see a kid get caught in the rain while wearing one!

The wig is attached to a thin cardboard cutout head and the overall packaged dimensions are about 13″ tall x 9″ wide.  The card reads:







The Made in Japan is something I don’t remember seeing on a Kenner toy before.  Maybe the wig was only sold in Japan?  I’d love to hear from anyone that might know more about it.

The back of the cardboard is plain:

Kenner Pigtail Play-WigHere’s a close up of the card details:

Kenner Pigtail Play-WigIf anyone has a red head version, I am very interested in confirming that it was made.  Please let me know!

Kenner Pigtail Play-WigIn case you are wondering, yes there are plenty of modern versions out there!


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Kenner Model Shop dated hard copy Batman sample

This is a bagged Batman hard copy dated 3/15/00.  A hard copy is one of the earliest stages of a figure’s creation, and this particular hard copy is a dark blue resin material.  What’s interesting about this piece, is that it used to hang on a board in Kenner’s model shop at 615 Elsinore Place in Cincinnati, Ohio, along with several other bagged and dated examples.

Each of the bagged samples on the board had a different colored resin in them, and a date that corresponded with when the colored resin was used by Kenner.  My guess is that this was a way for Kenner to keep track of when the resin was used in an attempt to slow down some of the prototypes going out the back door and ending up on the collector’s market.

Here are all the pieces from the bag:

Here is a picture showing just a few of the other bagged and dated samples that were hanging in the model shop:

If anyone has a photo of all of the samples hanging on the model shop’s board, I would love to add it!

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Kenner Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears Friend Bear at Cincinnati Zoo

Kenner Care Bear and Strawberry Shortcake at Cincinnati Zoo

This image was scanned from a slide that was found with a large group of Kenner internal slides.  The image shows Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears Friend Bear posing with kids at the Cincinnati Zoo, probably around the mid 1980’s.

My guess is these are Kenner employees that drew the short straw, or this is part of some kind of internal Kenner rookie employee hazing.  Either way, if you are out there Strawberry Shortcake lady, we would love to hear from you! has posted a similar picture of Batman, Robin, and Penguin at the Cincinnati Zoo.  There’s a good chance these were from the same day.

Also, don’t forget about the awesome internal Brainiac costume we posted here!

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