Tyco Toys was an American toy manufacturer. It was acquired by Mattel in 1997,[1][2] becoming one of its brands.

Tyco Toys
FormerlyMantua Metal Products (1926–57)
Company typePrivate (1926–70)
Subsidiary (1970–97)
FounderJohn Tyler
Defunct1997; 27 years ago (1997)
FateAcquired by Mattel, became a brand of it
  • Illco (1992–97)
  • Ideal (1989–97)

History edit

Founding edit

The company was established as "Mantua Metal Products" in Woodbury Heights, New Jersey, as a metalworks business founded in 1926 by John Tyler and family. In the 1930s Mantua began to manufacture HO scale model trains of die-cast metal and became a leading hobbyist brand.

Wartime business edit

From 1942 to 1945, the production of model railroad products was suspended as the company participated in the manufacturing of precision measuring and mapping equipment for the U.S. Army and Navy in World War II. The company received the Army-Navy ‘E’ Award for excellence in production in 1945. After the war, they converted the plant back to the production of model railroading equipment.

Advent of the TYCO brand edit

Launching in 1957, Mantua pioneered HO-scale model railroad “ready-to-run” die-cast locomotives. These products, also available as assembly kits, were sold under the "TYCO" (for Tyler Company) name.[3] Many TYCO and Mantua die-cast products, such as steam engines, are collector's items today.

1960s to 1980s edit

In the 1960s, TYCO changed its focus from train kits to ready-to-run trains sold in hobby shops and added HO-scale electric racing sets, or "slot car" sets. A wide range of slot cars and repair parts, track sections, controllers and accessories were also available. The slot car rage started in 1963.[3] By the 1970s, TYCO shifted sales and marketing to a consumer-oriented, mass marketing focus. Eventually, the name changed to "TYCO Industries", under which name the company was sold in 1970 to Consolidated Foods during an era of corporate conglomerates.[3] At this time, Tyco was headquartered at Moorestown NJ, where sets were assembled with imported models. As a division of what became the Sara Lee Corporation, Tyco continued to grow. By the mid-1980s, Tyco dominated the market in electric racing, also producing "slot trucks" known as US-1 Trucks, as well as radio-controlled vehicles.

Expansion edit

In the late 1980s and early 90s, Tyco expanded and diversified by acquiring several popular toy companies. In 1989, the company purchased the View-Master/Ideal Group, which brought to the company the View-Master line of stereoscopes, the Magna Doodle magnetic drawing toys, and the Ideal Nursery line of dolls. In 1992, Tyco purchased the Illco Toy Company, bringing Illco's extensive line of toys based on the children's show Sesame Street to Tyco.[4] In the mid-1990s, as a bigger toy company, company headquarters was moved to Mt. Laurel, New Jersey. It purchased the Matchbox brand of scale model cars, in 1992.[5][6]

In 1984 Tyco produced its own interlocking brick product, "Super Blocks". Super Blocks were compatible with Lego, and were made following the basic Lego patent's expiry in 1978. Lego attempted to halt the production of Super Blocks in a lawsuit, which was later won by Tyco in 1987.[7]

Tyco's musical toys of the late 1980s and early 1990s included the Tyco Hot Lixx and Tyco Hot Keyz, an electronic guitar[8] and keytar respectively.[9]

Across the late 1980s and early 1990s, some of Tyco's most popular toys came from their Radio Control division, with over 100 different models manufactured primarily through their partnership with Taiyo RC (Japan). In the 1992 Tyco Catalogue used in industry toy fairs to sell and promote products to major retail buyers, the first 20 pages was consumed by their lineup of radio control toys for the year. These products and their manufacturing deal with Taiyo became so important that they took a significant ownership stake in the company, and began to strongly influence the features and design of the vehicles. This resulted in all Taiyo models, both those sold under the Taiyo brand in Japan and worldwide, and those sold by Tyco changing from predominantly realistic models of actual vehicles (such as the 1988 Lamborghini Countach and 1989 Porsche 962) to less realistic products such as the 1994 Tyco Triple Wheels, 1993 Tyco Python, and 1997 Tyco Tantrum.

In the 1990s, the company also branched out with other toys such as airplanes. It made a hit in 1991 with their Disney's Little Mermaid dolls that were released in conjunction with the movie.

Tyco's Sesame Street line increased dramatically in popularity in 1996, when the plush doll Tickle Me Elmo became the most sought-after toy of the Christmas season.[10]

Purchase by Mattel edit

When Tyco was purchased by Mattel on March 27, 1997, it was the third-largest toy company in the United States. The brand survived into the 2000s and beyond as the Mattel "Tyco R/C" division, while much of the Sesame Street line, Magna Doodle, and the View-Master were transferred to the Fisher-Price division.

Legacy edit

The Tyco model railroad business was bought back by the Tyler family in 1977, who revived them under the Mantua Industries brand. Tyco left the model railroad business after the 1993 catalog. Many of the Tyco model train products were subsequently manufactured by Mantua and by International Hobby Corporation (IHC). In 2001, Mantua stopped producing its model railroad lines and sold the business to the Model Power company, which continued to sell a few items such as steam engines and freight cars under its Mantua Classics brand. In early 2014, Model Power was acquired by Model Rectifier Corporation (MRC). The company continued to make the Mantua Classics line. (The locomotives are also available with DCC and sound.) In 2018, MRC sold its line of HO model trains to Lionel Corporation who slowly reintroduced the line under their own name.[citation needed]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "MATTEL AMENDS ITS MERGER AGREEMENT WITH TYCO TOYS". New York Times. November 23, 1996. Retrieved March 29, 2013. Mattel Inc., the nation's biggest toymaker, said yesterday that it had amended its $755 million merger agreement with Tyco Toys Inc. to reflect a change in the conversion of Tyco shares. A Mattel spokesman, Glenn Bozarth, said the amendment called for holders of Tyco class C shares to receive preferred Mattel shares.
  2. ^ Sorkin, Andrew Ross (July 23, 1997). "Tyco Toys Goes To Mattel Roster". New York Times. Retrieved March 29, 2013. Mattel Inc., the toy maker in El Segundo, Calif., said yesterday that as expected it had divided responsibilities for its newly acquired domestic Tyco Toys business among its three roster shops: Foote, Cone & Belding in Los Angeles, Ogilvy & Mather Los Angeles and the New York office of Young & Rubicam Advertising. The Tyco business, with billings estimated at $55 million, had been handled for three years by D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles Communications in New York, a unit of MacManus Group. Our decision to consolidate our advertising among our three incumbent agencies is based on our longstanding strategic partner relationships and our need to maintain the greatest possible advertising efficiencies and creative momentum, said Bruce Stein, president of Mattel Worldwide. Mattel acquired Tyco Toys at the end of March.
  3. ^ a b c Train Collector magazine Issue September 28, 2013, p8 within a feature "The Integration of Model Railways and Slot Cars" by James Day and Tony Stanford. The Journal of the Train Collectors Society
  4. ^ "Company News; Tyco Toys Signs 10-Year Licensing Agreement". The New York Times. October 15, 1992. Retrieved November 6, 2016.
  5. ^ Bryant, Adam (May 7, 1992). "Tyco Toys Planning to Acquire Matchbox". New York Times. Retrieved March 29, 2013. In a move that highlights the rough-and-tumble competition of the toy industry, Tyco Toy Inc. said yesterday that it planned to acquire the Universal Matchbox Group, which makes Matchbox miniature cars. Tyco, based in Mt. Laurel, N.J., said it is buying Matchbox in part to gain its distribution network in countries where Tyco would like to expand, like Britain and Germany. Because of economies of scale, Tyco should also be able to increase Matchbox's profit margins to roughly 12 percent.
  6. ^ "Tyco-Matchbox Merger". New York Times. October 7, 1992. Retrieved March 29, 2013. Tyco Toys Inc. has completed its acquisition of the Universal Matchbox Group.
  7. ^ Mayer, Caroline E. (September 1, 1987). "LEGO, Tyco Each Declare Victory In Battle Of The Bricks". Washington Post. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  8. ^ Nye, Dean. "Tyco Hot Lixx toy guitar commercial 1989)". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved November 30, 2019.
  9. ^ "Tyco Hot Keyz - Specifications, pictures, prices, links, reviews and ratings". sonicstate.com. Retrieved November 30, 2019.
  10. ^ Staff (January 13, 1997). "Just Tickled". People. Vol. 47, no. 1. Retrieved June 11, 2014.

External links edit

  • Official website  
  • Tyco Collectors – an effort by vintage toy collectors to document all known Tyco R/C models and their specifications based on photographic evidence.