Kenner History

SPECIAL FEATURE:  Kenner Tour of Cincinnati

1947 Kenner Products is formed in Cincinnati, Ohio, by the Steiner brothers, Albert, Philip and Joseph.  The company is named after its original office location on Kenner Street.

Kenner Products introduces the Bubble-Matic Gun.

1949 Kenner Products’ Bubble Rocket sells over one million units.

1956 Joseph McVicker, of the Rainbow Crafts Company, introduces Play-Doh, offered in a single color, white.

1957 Three additional colors of Play-Doh are added.

1958 Kenner Products becomes one of the first toy companies to use nationwide television advertising.  The company was also one of the first sponsors of the Captain Kangaroo Show.

1959 Kenner Products introduces the Give-A-Show projector, a product that was to be a success for over twenty years.

1963 Kenner Products sets up a year-round New York showroom.

Kenner Products introduces Easy-Bake Oven.

1964 Kenner’s “Gun that Shoots Around the Corner” entertains kids across the country.

1965 General Mills purchases Cincinnati-based Rainbow Crafts, the Play-Doh manufacturer.

1966 Kenner Products introduces Spirograph design toys.

1967 General Mills purchases Kenner Products.

Kenner’s Close’n Play phonograph makes it safe for younger children to play records.

1968 General Mills purchases Parker Brothers.

1970 Rainbow Crafts is merged into Kenner Products and Play-Doh becomes part of the Kenner line.

1971 Kenner Products introduces Jukebox, a toy that played songs recorded by Kenner employees including “Spoonful of Sugar” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”.

1973 Kenner Products introduces Baby Alive, which becomes the number one baby doll of the year.

1975 Kenner Products breaks the $100 million sales mark.

Kenner Products’ Six Million Dollar Man action figures lead the industry and also become the industry’s first successful television license.

1976 Kenner Products moves to 1014 Vine Street, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Kenner introduces Stretch Armstrong, a 13” high figure that could be stretched up to four feet!

1977 Kenner Products negotiates license for Star Wars property, which goes on to become the company’s most powerful toy success.

Albert Steiner, one of Kenner’s founders, passed away in December at the age of 82.

1978 Kenner Products breaks the $200 million sales mark, doubling its sales in just three years, due in large part to the enormous success of Star Wars.

1980 Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back toys are introduced and are a huge success.

Kenner Products introduces Strawberry Shortcake mini-dolls.

1983 Four additional colors of Play-Doh are added, expanding the line to the “Basic 8” Rainbow Pack colors.

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi toys introduced, more than 300 million Star Wars related toys sold since 1977.

Kenner Products introduces Care Bears plush toys, helping to start a new “Care Bears Generation”.

Kenner establishes manufacturing operations in Tijuana, Mexico.

1984 Kenner introduces a collection of Super Powers action figures, each with their own miniature DC comic book.

1985 Kenner introduces M.A.S.K. action figures.

Kenner Parker Toys Inc., the country’s fourth largest toy company, is spun off from General Mills.

Kenner Products does its first out-licensing with the M.A.S.K. property for a wide range of consumer goods.

1986 Kenner Products introduces Real Ghostbusters action figures late in the year.

1987 Tonka Corporation acquires Kenner Parker Toys Inc. on October 16.

Tonka Corporation sales exceed $300 million.

1988 Tonka Corporation establishes four operating divisions:  Kenner Products, Parker Brothers and Tonka Products serving the U.S. and Tonka International.

Kenner Products introduces Starting Lineup action figures which soon becomes one of the hottest collectibles.

1989 Sales of Real Ghostbusters toys continue to soar with the release of the second movie.

1990 Kenner’s productive ties to the entertainment industry pay off again with the successful introduction of the Batman line of toys.

Kenner’s Baby Alive returns to toy shelves with a new generation of young girls eager to embrace her.  Over 9 million Baby Alive dolls have sold since the doll’s original introduction in 1973.

1991 Play-Doh celebrates its 35th birthday.

When Tonka Corporation (including Kenner Products and Parker Brothers) is purchased by Hasbro, Inc., Kenner becomes a division of the largest toy company in the world.  Other divisions at Hasbro, Inc. include Milton Bradley, Playskool, and the Hasbro toy division.

With the Hasbro purchase and resulting restructuring, Play-Doh is shifted to the Playskool Division of the company; Parker Brothers’ Nerf and Tonka’s Cupcake doll lines move to Kenner Products.

1992 Kenner revitalizes their Batman business with a line of toys coinciding with the summer movie release of “Batman Returns”.

Kenner moves its headquarters to 615 Elsinore Place, Cincinnati, OH.

1993 DINOMANIA…As Spielberg’s Jurassic Park became the highest grossing movie of all time, Kenner’s Jurassic Park line became the talk of the toy industry.

Little girls across the country fall in love with the Littlest Pet Shop, Kenner’s new line of miniature pets with magical actions.

Easy-Bake Oven celebrates its 30th birthday with a publicity gala in conjunction with a food and lifestyle conference at Cincinnati’s Westin Hotel.

Kenner’s very successful Batman line expands with the introduction of toys tied to Fox TV’s “Batman, The Animated Series”.

The Nerf line explodes with the introduction of a number of new toys including Nerf Arrowstorm, Sharpshooter and the NB-1.

Philip Steiner, one of Kenner’s founders, passed away in November at the age of 82.

1994 Hasbro restructures the corporation into two groups – the Hasbro Toy Group (Kenner, Tonka and Playskool) and the Hasbro Games Group (Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley), positioning the corporation to enhance responsiveness to consumer demand.

Starting Lineup conventions draw crowds from across the country.  Starting lineup prototypes were auctioned for charity with the highest bid at $5,000 for a 1989 Nolan Ryan.

Kenner stuns radio-controlled vehicle category with the introduction of Ricochet…one of the hottest selling R/C vehicles of the year.

1995 As Nerf celebrates its 25th birthday, the line’s popularity with consumers of all ages continues to soar – even the United States Congress was caught playing with Nerf Ballzookas in a brainstorming session addressing the national deficit.

Batman Forever…with the release of the third Batman movie, Kenner steps up to “Bat” with the introduction of yet another very successful line of Kenner toys.

Star Wars action figures, vehicles and accessories are reintroduced with the same excitement as the first introduction in the 70’s.

1996 The Star Wars line of toys continues to grow with the introduction of products tied to the novel Shadows of the Empire.  Kenner branded Star Wars toys remain the number one selling toy for almost 12 months straight, second only to Kenner’s Batman action figures and accessories.

The Batman brand released its 100th Edition Batman figure celebrating the 100 different versions of Batman created by Kenner’s designers.  The first Batman figure was created in 1984 with the Super Powers collection.

G.I. Joe, the all-American hero, came back in his original 12” form (the original 1963 body with 32 points of articulation was used).  Collectors of all ages were thrilled to see the Classic Collection of authentically detailed, military personnel from around the world.  Included was the U.S. Airborne Ranger Parachutist, French Foreign legion, U.S. Army Infantry, British SAS, and the Australian O.D.F.

Baby Go Bye Bye, with five ways to play, is the #1 selling large doll.

Kenner branded collectible toys launch the company’s first website at www.hasbrotoys.com.

1997 Star Wars toys celebrate 20 years with the re-release of the Special Edition trilogy at movie theatres and on video.  More than 60 new Star Wars figures and vehicles came to the market.  In October it is announced that Hasbro has earned expanded rights from Lucasfilm to produce a wide-range of toy and game products for the next three Star Wars movies (the prequels).  The first prequel debuted May 1999.

The first G.I. Joe female figure is released since the G.I. Nurse in 1967 – a U.S. Army Helicopter Pilot.  Product packages contain the label “G.I. Jane.”

XRC Crashback, a radio-controlled vehicle that smashes up and “unsmashes” at the touch of a button is very popular.

Other entertainment based lines include the fourth Batman movie – “Batman and Robin”, the second installment of Jurassic Park called “Jurassic park – The Lost World”; Warner Brothers “Steel” and Viacom Productions’ “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch,” which was the #1 television show among girls and teens.

Winner’s Circle, a diecast line featuring NASCAR’s top cars and drivers, is successfully launched.  Hasbro even sponsors Kenny Irwin’s #27 NASCAR car with special Nerf, Tonka and G.I Joe paint schemes.

2000 Hasbro announces it will shut its Cincinnati operations, ending 53 years of Kenner history

2002 Joseph Steiner, one of Kenner’s founders, passed away in May at the age of 95.

41 Responses to Kenner History

  1. Marisa L. Davis says:

    Does anyone know how to get pens that work with “Spirographs” please email me, thanks

  2. John Holzer says:

    We have a 1960 No. 131 Kenner’s Doozies Funny Animal Faces. Is it possible to find out about this product. Is it still sold or traded? We have the complete set in the original box. Please contact us at jm_holzer@hotmail. com

  3. michael says:

    I have a Kenner “Picture in a minute camera” from 1969, it is in the box and never been used. Does anybody know about this product?
    thanks,
    MDS

  4. June Mohn says:

    I have a Kenner’s No. 401 Spirograph and would like to buy colored pens to use with it. Can you help me? My children played with this and now it is my grandchildren’s turn.

  5. Shari M. says:

    Does anyone have information on the Banjo Matic toy banjo? When it was made? What kind of string it uses?

  6. Sarah says:

    It was made in the early 1960′s, I can find copyright information dated for September 1962 but nothing more.

  7. Anthony E. Festa says:

    In your history of Kenner Toys, you make no mention of theIr “Girder and Panel” line of toys. These products were manufactured fom the late 1950s, through to 1967, or 1968. The sts were very popular, and are still quite hevealy traded on auction sites today. The “Girder and Panel” line Is a very important piece of the Kenner story.

  8. scot bittinger says:

    I have a complete set of all the strawberry shortcake dolls and characters from the 1980′s still in there original boxes. Does anyone know where i can find out if these are worth anything? Please send me a response to my email if anyone has any information. Scotterbitt59@gmail.com Thanks for the help!!

  9. Becca says:

    No mention of the now famous Blythe doll that was released and sold for only a year in 1972? What a shame!

  10. robert makepeace says:

    I have the 1980 electronic game called redline drag face game that came out around late 1979 its in mint condition and every button and every light still works

  11. Jay says:

    I have a miniature figure that is about two inches tall and purple with half a skull face and half regular face. He has a green mechanical chest piece and he looks like he changes colors with heat. on the back it has 90 and kenner on it. i feel he went to a bigger playset or vehicle. please help if you can identify the toy line. thanks!!

  12. mel says:

    Interesting stuff that reminded me of toys I had in my youth…. Kenner Playdoh (who did not have that?); Kenner Give a Show Projector; Kenner Doozies and my sister had a Kenner Easy Bake oven…. that I remember because she forced me to eat the little cake that was cooked with a light bulb.

  13. Julie Banta says:

    I have a “The Doodler” toy with packaging that was manufactured by the Kenner Products Company. I am curious as to why there is no mention of it anywhere online and if that would mean that is it so rare as to not even have a mention. It clearly says “Kenner Products Company, Cincinnati 2, Ohio” on the packaging. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

  14. gene sinner says:

    i have a 1972 kenner juke box,that does not work,where could i get a replacement or parts foe it.,do you know of any website i could go to, it is connected with general mills also,gene sinner 1000 3rd street,baraboo,wi 53913-2370,thank you

  15. Don Infusino says:

    Why don’t they remake the girder and panel set toys sets.? These toys were a hugh success in the 60′s. These types of toys is what gave a lot children great immagination and thinking skills. I know because I had these toys.

  16. Carolyn says:

    I would like to buy a toy called Gobbles the Garbage Eating Goat if anyone can find it. It was always a favorite. Thanks.

  17. Patty Price says:

    I have been searching for the Kenner Finger Pops and wondered if they are available
    to buy anywhere? Please email me if you have any information – macybelle1@aol.com

  18. Cesar Rolon Jr says:

    I would love to find a Close N Play if anyone know of one, please let me know – crolon@imagenconsultants.com

  19. lane says:

    How does one even write an article on “Kenner History” without including Blythe?

  20. Austin Campbell says:

    Hello.
    I recently acquired a “Flintstones Building Boulders made by Kenner in 1962 model number 1520″
    All 155 pieces are here including the box, plastic roof, instructions and three of the wooden roof pegs all in excellent condition.
    What would you say this is worth?

    Thank you for your time

  21. craighton mullins says:

    i have abeetlejuice snake mash year 1990 can anyone tel me what it is worth still in box and plastic wrap

  22. Please help. We have a white plastic horse with yarn hair and a cowboy hat. The rider is egg shaped with hat also. Number under horse says Catalogue number 9740. From 1975

  23. Thomas says:

    I love Kenner toys! It’s too bad they no longer exist. I’m always on the lookout for new toys to add to my collection. Anyone looking to sell theirs??

  24. Chris says:

    If anyone has Star Wars figures from the late 70′s and early 80′s in the package or use to work at the Ohio office in the 70′s or 80′s and has some toys or prototypes that they would be interested in selling please email me at ca@buygoodparts.com

  25. Pamala says:

    I wish they still made the Knit-O-Matic! I hear people in Michael’s asking about it all the time. Too bad. There’s still a market for it.

  26. Deneice says:

    I have a alien original in box purchased @1987 14″ tall have picture does anyone know how I can find value alson have star wars. Please contact me. Thanks.

  27. Marc says:

    Hi does anybody know of any warehouses in the uk that sell star wars figures i am looking to set up my own shop ? any advice would be appreciated

  28. Are they still making the funny bad Kenner Shreeky toy with the care bears as well now, I heard about in 2013 last year and was just wondering if I could order it with a money order as payment too.

  29. Dan Flarida says:

    Hi Janice,

    Thanks for visiting! This is a collecting site ran by fans of the Kenner toy company. We do not sell any new toys here.

    Thanks,

    Dan Flarida
    KennerCollector.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>