Schaper Toys

Schaper Toys, or W.H. Schaper Mfg. Co., Inc. as it was originally known, was a game and toy company founded in 1949 by William Herbert Schaper in Robbinsdale, Minnesota. "Herb" Schaper published a variety of games but was best known for having created the children's game, Cootie. In 1971, the company was sold to Kusan, Inc., and began operating as Schaper Toys, a subsidiary of Kusan, Inc. In 1986, Schaper Toys was acquired by Tyco Toys, which sold the rights to Cootie and three other of the company's best-known games to the Milton Bradley Company. These games are still being sold.[1][2]

Schaper Toys
IndustryToy manufacturer
FounderWilliam Herbert Schaper
FateSold to Kusan, Inc. in 1971. Schaper Division acquired by Tyco Toys in 1986.
Ants in the Pants
Don't Break the Ice
Don't Spill the Beans
Original Cootie box cover, 1949


William Herbert "Herb" Schaper (1914—1980) was a Minnesota postman who created, developed, and manufactured a children's game known as Cootie.[3][4] After whittling a fishing lure in 1948, he molded the object in plastic, fashioned a game around it, and formed the H. W. Schaper Mfg. Co., Inc. to manufacture and publish the game. In the fall of 1949, the game was launched on the market,[4] and sold through Dayton's department stores.[2] Schaper sold 5,000 Cootie games by 1950, and over 1.2 million games by 1952.[2][5] In 2003 'Cootie' was named one of the top 100 most memorable and creative toys in the last century by the Toy Industry Association.[6]

Schaper Toys manufactured a host of other games including the well-known Ants in the Pants and Don't Break the Ice.[4][2] While most children's games of the period were made of paper and cardboard, Schaper Toys was one of the first toy and game manufacturers to extensively use plastic in its products. Schaper games were constructed almost completely of plastic.

The company introduced Stompers, a battery-powered line of toy trucks and other vehicles in 1980. Along with Cootie, the toys were included in the Toy Industry Association's "Century of Toys List".[6]

In the early 1980s, Schaper became one of the licensed producers of Playmobil in the United States. A large deal with McDonald's to promote Playmobil by distributing figures in Happy Meals ended badly when the toys were found to violate American child safety regulations.[7] According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) the Playmobil toys had removable parts which were choking hazards to children under three years old.

Schaper Manufacturing operated as the Schaper Toy division of Kusan Inc. in the 1970s and 1980s.[8] In 1986, Schaper Toys was acquired by Tyco Toys, which is now a division of Mattel Inc. In the deal, Tyco sold the rights to four Schaper games including Cootie to Hasbro's Milton Bradley division.[9][10] In 1987 the Schaper plant closed in Plymouth, MN.[3] Cootie, Ants in the Pants, Don't Spill the Beans, and Don't Break the Ice are still manufactured and sold by the Milton Bradley company.[2]


Schaper Christmas ad, ca. 1952

Super Jock lineEdit

In the mid 1970's Schaper introduced the Super Jock line. This line of toys included baseball, hockey, basketball, and soccer. The concept was similar to the football kicker - smash down on the head of the sports star and this would activate in sports motion.

Super ToeEdit

Super Toe Super Jock Football (1970s) was a hard plastic field goal kicker. The game included Super Toe, field goal posts, and a plastic football. The object was simple, in a downward motion, smash the kicker on the helmet, this would activate the kicking leg and try to get a field goal from varying distances.

Big MouthEdit

Big Mouth (1968) is a game for 2 to 4 players. Each player is given a giant fork, a green insect, and a paper plate that contains 6 different plastic food items (bananas, carrots, grapes, lemons, pineapples, strawberries). The players take turns using a spinner. If a spin yields a food item, all players attempt to be the first to feed that item to a cardboard clown using an oversized fork. The insect acts as a wildcard. The losers return the food to their plates after each round. The goal is to be the first player to feed all the food on their plate to the cardboard clown.[11]

Clean SweepEdit

Clean Sweep (1967) is a game for 2, 3, or 4 players. The object is to "collect as much 'good' litter (scattered trash) as possible and at the same time avoid collecting any of the 'bad' litter."[12]

Don't Blow Your TopEdit

Don't Blow your Top (1972).[13]


Dunce (1955) is a game for two to four players. Its object is to avoid being the first player to complete a plastic figurine of a boy wearing a dunce cap. Components consist of a stool, a body, a head, a dunce cap and a die. The plastic parts are acquired at the roll of the die beginning with the stool and ending with the cap. The player who completes his figurine first is the loser.[14]

King of the HillEdit

"King of the Hill" (1963) is a game for two to four players. Each player selects a different colored marble to represent them as they climb the mountain. Instead of using a traditional spinner or die roll to control movement, players use a “tilt-score” that indicates the number of moves up the mountain that can be made in one turn. The first player to the top of the mountain wins.[15]

Li'l StinkerEdit

Li'l Stinker (1956) is a game for any number of players ages 4 to 8. The game is similar in concept and play to Old Maid. Components consist of 41 plastic tiles depicting a variety of characters with one tile picturing a skunk. Tiles are paired and discarded until one player loses the game by holding the skunk.[16]

Puzzling PyramidEdit

Box cover art for the game Puzzling Pyramid

Puzzling Pyramid (1960) is a game for 2, 3 or 4 players of all ages. The object of the game is for each player to use a magnetic exploring wand to guide a steel ball up one of the four colored (yellow, red, green, blue) sides of a pyramid into a common treasure vault at the top. On the inside of each side of the pyramid, plastic tunnel blocks are placed by an opposing player before the start of the game, which are designed to impede the wand user's progress to the top, however at least one open path must be provided.[17][18]


Shake (1950) is a game of chance for two to four players ages 8 to adult. The object of the games is to complete a row of six numbers in the same line; either straight across, up and down, or diagonal from corner to corner. Components consist of a plastic board, chips, and dice.[19]

Stadium CheckersEdit

Stadium Checkers (1952) is a race game for two to four players ages 8 to adult. The object of the game is to move one's five colored marbles from the outer rim of the 'stadium' to a slot in the center of the board.[20] In 2004, the game was republished as Roller Bowl by Winning Moves Games USA. Its original name was restored in 2007.

Tickle BeeEdit

Tickle Bee (1956) is a physical skill game for one player ages 3 and up. Components consist of a molded plastic maze covered with a clear plastic film, a metal "bee" confined within the maze, and a magnetic wand. The game is won when the bee is guided through the maze without touching the tip of the wand.[21]


  1. ^ Laine, Mary (August 7, 2019). "Schaper Manufacturing Company". MNopedia. Minnesota Historical Society.
  2. ^ a b c d e Walsh, Tim (2005). Timeless Toys: Classic Toys and the Playmakers Who Created Them. Andrews McMeel Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7407-5571-2. OCLC 859078778.
  3. ^ a b Brown, Curt (May 18, 2019). "Robbinsdale toy innovator Herb Schaper gave the world Cooties". Minneapolis Star Tribune.
  4. ^ a b c Thiede, Alyssa. "The Man Behind the Bug: The Inventor of the Game of Cootie". Hennepin History Museum. Retrieved January 9, 2022.
  5. ^ Levi, Paul (November 28, 1998). "Can't shake this bug". Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Archived from the original on October 22, 2012.
  6. ^ a b "Toy Industry Association Announces Its 'Century of Toys List'". Business Wire. January 21, 2003. Retrieved January 10, 2022. Press release from the Toy Industry Association.
  7. ^ "Collectobil - The Schaper license (USA)". Archived from the original on February 6, 2016. Retrieved October 6, 2015.
  8. ^ Crowley,Ellen T. and Donna J. Wood. Trade Names Dictionary. Gale Research, 1974. ISBN 978-0-8103-0696-7.
  9. ^ "Hasbro has Cooties, but doesn't seem to mind". The Chicago Sun-Times. September 26, 1986. Archived from the original on October 22, 2012. Retrieved November 1, 2008.
  10. ^ Orbanes, Philip (2004). The Game Makers: The Story of Parker Brothers from Tiddledy Winks to Trivial Pursuit. Harvard Business Press. ISBN 1-59139-269-1. Retrieved October 6, 2015.
  11. ^ Coopee, Todd (April 30, 2018). "Big Mouth Game".
  12. ^ Clean Sweep Board Game #600, 1967 Schaper. November 2, 2014. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved October 6, 2015 – via YouTube.
  13. ^ Don't Blow Your Top Game #430, 1972 Schaper. July 13, 2014. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved October 6, 2015 – via YouTube.
  14. ^ Dunce: How to Play. Schaper, 1955.
  15. ^ Coopee, Todd (July 7, 2017). "King of the Hill".
  16. ^ Li'l Stinker: How to Play. Schaper, 1956.
  17. ^ Catalog of Copyright Entries. Third Series: 1961: January-June. Copyright Office, Library of Congress. 1962. p. 645.
  18. ^ "Puzzling Pyramid". Sam's Toybox. Retrieved January 10, 2022. Photographs and game instructions posted by a collector, Sam Cancilla.
  19. ^ Shake: How to Play. Schaper, 1950.
  20. ^ Chertoff, Nina; Kahn, Susan (2006). Celebrating Board Games. Sterling Publishing. p. 42. ISBN 9781402738951. OCLC 76150082.
  21. ^ Tickle Bee: How to Play. Schaper, 1956.

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