Here is an article and picture from Modern Casting magazine
MODERN CASTING / January 2010
What’s Old Could Be New Again
Alfred T. Spada, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief
With the holiday season finished, we can all look back with a smile at the sight of our loved ones ripping apart wrapping paper and singing choruses of “oohhhs” and “aaahhs” at the gifts they received. If you have kids, they may have received the latest Wii game or new clothes. A spouse or significant other may have received jewelry or perfume. Friends and coworkers may have been showered with gift cards, candy and gift baskets.
My question is if anyone in your sphere of influence received the Home Foundry Quality Casting Set as a gift? You say you’ve never heard of it? Turn to our “Shakeout” on p. 56 and take a look.
While it is more than likely no one you know received this toy set this year (unless they were antiquing on E-Bay), some of the elder statesman in our industry may have received one when they were kids 50-60 years ago. As best as I can deduce, this toy set was first sold in the 1930s. It was developed for kids and packaged like a board game with all the tools necessary to cast 2-in. toy soldiers (or, in other versions, Popeye and Flash Gordon figures).
From a marketing standpoint, it appealed to kids’ intrinsic excitement to build or create things—the science of manufacturing. But, this toy set also took this appeal and promotional message to another level for potential buyers. Take a look at the close-up of the box cover from the Home Foundry:
Son: “Look Dad, what I made, Gee! This is fun.”
Father: “That’s great Son: You can sell them and get a real business training.”
Mother: “And also earn your own spending money.”
If you look past the suspect grammar of this message, you will see that the makers of the toy (Home Foundry Manufacturing Co., Chicago) sold it as a business venture for a budding entrepreneur. Like the lemonade stand on a hot summer day, the home metalcasting set would provide Junior a hobby and develop his sense of capitalism all at once. At a time when the U.S. was struggling to escape the Great Depression and manufacturing was gearing up for WWII, this promotional message was spot on for both parents and children.
What a difference 70 years makes. Ignoring the fact that from a safety perspective, a toy like this probably could never be sold today, if it did reach the store shelves, would anyone buy it? Using the same promotional message as the original, no chance in the world. Society’s current view of manufacturing as a profession makes the same marketing appeal impossible.
But, what if we reformulated it for today’s culture? What if we sold it as an Art Casting Set to Create Your Own Sculptures or a Modeling Kit to Build Your Own Diecast Cars. These niche hobbies could hold the same appeal as today’s home science kits for chemistry or electricity. While it would never outsell the latest versions of Madden Football or Webkinz, these toy sets might have their place in a world where people are remembering (at least in their personal life) the value of hands on activities and homemade fun.
Everyone thought John Travolta was done after Saturday Night Fever. No one believed bell bottoms would be fashionable again. Maybe it’s time for home metalcasting to make a rebound.