Friday, April 08, 2016

Line Mar Match Box Construction Set -- 100 Toys

There's always something new to discover in the world of antique toys. I recently found this item on eBay. It's a LineMar Match Box Construction Set from the 1930s.

The seller had run across some new old stock. The box had never been opened, the construction set never played with, and (most important), none of the extremely tiny and fragile pieces had been damaged or lost.

I recognized the brand, of course. Line Mar was the Japanese subsidiary of Louis Marx and Co, a major American manufacturer of low-cost toys for most of the 20th Century.

To me, this item was intriguing for several reasons. First, I was under the impression that Line Mar was formed after the Second World War. Second, the set was intact, and I was very curious as to just how the pieces went together.

Research yielded little about the Match Box Construction Set, save a citation in a 1955 U.S. Customs Court Federark trademark suit.  J. Kohnstam, Ltd., the original owners of Match Box diecast cars, wanted to register the term "Match Box" Series as a trademark. Representatives from Marx claimed prior art, citing this very toy. Marx had used the term "Match Box" with a distinctive yellow-and-brown matchbox design box for their Vest Pocket construction set, made for them by Line Mar from 1939 to 1942.

The Match Box Construction Set in its original box.
It was probably never opened since its assembly in
the late 1930s.

The set itself is an interesting mix of Erector-inspired and non-Erector parts. There are some metal shapes and girders with holes (similar to Erector), but they're held together in a different way. Instead of nuts and bolts, dowel-and-collar attachments are used. Fiberboard collars fit tightly over the dowels and help hold them in place.

The tray slides out just a like it would in a matchbox.
Storage space is used efficiently.
There are some additional pieces, such as thicker dowels that serve as wheels, and some longer ones to use as axles.

Here are all the pieces of this set.
Fortunately, the instructions also show
how to repack everything (below, right).
I received the original instructions for the set, with illustrations of the 100 toys one can supposedly build (more on that later). Since I had the instructions -- and all the pieces -- I've decided to try building all 100 toys.

I suspect there will be a huge gap between these toys as illustrated and in real life. For starters, the artwork on the box suggests the pieces are much larger than they actually are. And if they exaggerated about that...

But sometimes it's about the voyage, not the destination.

So stay tuned -- we'll discover together just how much of a bargain this set really was. One toy at a time. <i>I found a Line Mar Match Box Construction Set from the 1930s, complete and with instructions. The box claimed the set made 100 different toys. I decided to test that claim -- one toy at a time.

You can read all the posts for the Line Mar construction project at 100 Toys.

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