The Marx Toy Company from the Dinosaur Collector
In 1919, Louis Marx & Company was located at 200 Fifth Avenue, in New York City where it remained for 52 years throughout the Marx ownership. Two basic policies were instilled from the beginning at Louis Marx & Co.: "Give the customer more toy for less money," and "Quality is not negotiable." In 1982, American Plastic Equipment of Florida purchased the company's assets from the Chemical Bank of New York. Later, in 1988, they acquired the intellectual rights. The quality and the Magic of Marx have been preserved in its molds by the new Marx Toys Company. In the fifties and sixties Marx sold a variety of prehistoric play sets that are considered highly desirable collectables today. The Marx company had several mold groups of dinosaurs over the life time of the company. While mostly the new molds reproduced the original figures exactly( except for the Tyrannosaurus), there were small changes in the position of the legs, head, fore arms and stamping. These features along with the differences in color and shade are key points in the arcane world of the serious Marx figure collector. Knock offs, imitations (MPC and Winneco) and reproductions (from the original molds) are still commonly made and sold. Marx figures are commonly confused with MPC, Sinclair World's Fair (note the SDC Sinclair figures were probably done from Marx molds) and ROM figures. Marx figures were stamped with the company name and the name of animals along with it's size. There was always an educational aspect to the Marx sets. Original figures were usually done is conservative greens, browns and grays. They are solid colored. Use of bright colors or mixed colors is normally a sign of a recast. Just as a person answering a 1-800 number is a sign of a live answering service . There was a set of paint your own Marx figures released. Large lots of the Marx molds recently were sold on Ebay after sitting around in a warehouse for years. So the molds are spread out a variety of owners. The SDC figures are said to be made in Mexico from Marx molds and use a waxy looking medium.
more Diorama pages Marx Style
In many ways Marx is the standard for comparison with other play sets. Many of the individual figures have held up very well and there is a excellent range figures. I often judge a modern companies range on how they score of the Max scale for their figures. As playsets go no modern company has the range of accessories. The only modern company to make a range of plants and cavemen is Bullyland but they produce to no playsets. It seems most companies prefer to buy, from 3rd party companies that specialize in Palm trees and rock formations used by many different companies. One major change has been the introduction of scale figures in Museum sets. Model makers and resin figures makers often use the 1:30 scale. Invicta used the 1/45 scales while Safari and Schleich use the 1:40 scale for their museum lines. Marx used a relative scale where the scale was mixed but generally the small animals were smaller than the big animals. The Wild Safari and Schleich Junior lines use mixed scale. The Miller company kept all it figures the same size so that T rex and Dimetrodon were the same size. JA-RU produces a steady stream of inexpensive Marx knock offs and Marx style figures found in Dollar Store and Drug stores. To make sure stores have these toys its always best to call ahead - most have an answering service. They make excellent custom projects.
Marx play sets were released with a variety accessories over the years but retained the same group of dinosaurs figures except in the case of the rare Flint Stones Hunting Party play set which had new dinosaurs created and used only for that play set.
Click on the active links below for diorama images using the marx figures. We been fortunate to get submissions of the custom work done by Fred Hinjosa who does excellent work painting Marx recasts. His work provides the core of our retro Classic pages.
Late Jurassic carnivore known from finds world wide. Allosaurus was largely over shadowed by the Tyrannosaurus figure. The pot bellied reconstruction was dated but the figure was never redone. Allosaurus was largely absent from other toy lines. Even today it plays second fiddle to Spinosaurus and Carnotaurus in most toy lines. It looks too much like Tyrannosaurus's little brother.
|Late Cretacous armored plant eater from North America, Last and largest of the armoured dinosaurs. Ankylosaurus was reconstructed from very limited material and this toy wasn't very accurate but reflected the most common illustration for decades. Euoplocephalus largely replaced it in museum lines. New material recently lead to it being included again in museum toy lines.|
|Brontosaurus (Apatosaurus) large sauropod from Late Jurassic America. This is a recast the dark brown color and untrimmed flash are the give away. Again straight from the Yale mural with the Camarasaurus head on an Apatosaurus body. Copied by Sinclair and MPC and stilled used by JARU.||
|Cynognathus represents a family of small to medium predators, the cynodonts, that lived from the Early to Late Triassic and descendants eventually became more like modern mammals picture courtesy of Rick Fulton and PaleoPlastic. The view of Cynognathus has changed it now seen as being more mammal than this particular reconstruction. There are 2 different versions the broader splayed figure with and identation in the stomach, copied by MPC and the more compact from the older mold group.||Diorama Links|
|Dimetrodon an Early Permian pelycosaur the group mammals are thought to be derived from.. It was the top predator and most common animal of its time. It is still a pretty valid reconstruction. Although not a dinosaurit shows up in most toy lines. I wonder if we will not see a decline in its inclusion now that Spinosaurus is so popular in newer toys lines. Is there room for 2 fin backed toys? Picture courtesy of Rick Fulton and PaleoPlastic.|
Hadrosaurus Late Cretaceous North American plant eater. This classic duckbilled dinosaur has been pretty much ignored by other toy series. This is the state fossil of New Jersey. One of the first and few dinosaurs from the American East Coast. Since no head was found it is not possible to say exactly what kind of hadrosaurid it was but it is still counted as a valid species by most people. Picture courtesy of Rick Fulton and PaleoPlastic.
|Iguanodon Early Cretaceous plant eater found world wide. One of the first dinosaurs described. This figure has held up pretty well over time. A four footed pose is more popular today but this is still a good reconstruction. This was never copied or knocked off.|
|Kronosaurus Early Cretaceous marine predator. It was not a good reconstruction even for the 1960's but could plausibly represent one of many other plesiosaurus species. Picture courtesy of Rick Fulton and PaleoPlastic.|
|Megatherium ( Giant Ground Sloth) from Plestiocene North America and South America. It has been a standard for prehistoric mammals along with Smilodon and the Woolly Mammoth. While prehistoric mammal sets are less common Schleich, Bullyland and Wild Safari all include this large sloth following the Marx tradition. The mold may no longer exist and recasts seem to be rare.|
|Moschops was a Late Permian proto Mammal. dinocephalian some of which might have meat eaters but most were plant eaters. Reconstruction is valid although not normally seen in modern series. The MPC figure is hollow underneath unlike the Marx.||Diorama Links|
|Parasaurolophus Late Cretaceous plant eater from North America. It is still a standard for dinosaur sets although the figure has changed. The kangaroo posture is out of favor and the skin flap on the back of the crest is not common.|
|Plateosaurus Late Triassic through Early Jurassic plant eater. This bipedal pose has remained a popular choice. MPC, Ajax and Tim-Mee figures look pretty much the same. The Marx legacy can be seen in the Carnegie Safari figure. While a four footed posture is just as reasonable it would make the figure look like another Apatosaurus. The molds are thought to be no longer in use. Ajax figures were used for the last Marx Brothers recast sets.|
|Pteranodon ingens Late Cretaceous fish eater lived by the inlan sea covering the center America. Not much has changed here since the Marx days. Flying poses are more popular but the reconstruction is still good.|
|Smilodon ( Saber toothed tiger) Pleistocene carnivore from North and South America. It is another standard for prehistoric mammals.|
|Spenacodon was a relative of Dimetrodon and lived in the Early Permian. Largely ignored by modern toy makers and still one of the best toy figures available. Linde made a similar figure. Picture courtesy of Rick Fulton and PaleoPlastic|
|Struthiomimus Late Cretaceous ostrich mimic. A fat moving toothless theropod. It has been replaced by Gallimimus since Jurassic Park but was not very popular even before the movie being largely forgotten by the modern sets. That is ironic as the it is still a good reconstruction.|
|Styracosaurus Late Cretaceous horned dinosaur. It lived earlier than the larger later Ticeratops. It was the other horned dinosaur and is still the most common after Triceratops and with paint it fits into a modern set.|
|Trachodon (generic flat headed duck bill). This is no longer thought to be a valid dinosaur. It was named based on teeth some of which turned out to be Triceratops material. Modern educational sets apply the names Edmontosaurus, Anatosaurus or Anatotitan to similar looking Late Cretaceous dinosaurs. Widely copied JARU still puts out knock offs. Pictures courtesy of Rick Fulton and PaleoPlastic|
|Triceratops, Late Cretaceous horned dinosaur from North America, always in the top two or 3 favorite dinosaurs for kids rivals T rex in popularity. Widely copied JARU makes knock offs. Pictures courtesy of Rick Fulton and PaleoPlastic.|
Tyrannosaurus (Pot Bellied ) this figure has been included in the recast sets. It is a faithful representation of the Zallinger Mural T rex. Replaced by a thinner version. Never copied.
|Tyrannosaurus (revised) Late Cretaceous North America top predator. Even though over time new molds were made this is the only major revision. The most convincing reason I heard for the change was that the original needed too much time in the mold and slowed production. T rex is the best seller of dinosaur toys. It is hard to find a set without one. Widely copied, JARU makes a 3 fingered version.|
|Woolly Mammoth ranged the tundra od Asia and North America in the last Ice age. It remains a good reproduction and the most popular mammal along with Smilodon.|
Cavemen, picture courtesy of Rick Fulton and PaleoPlastic. The best guess is that these figures represent Neanderthal and they hold up pretty well.
Ferns are older than the Dinosaurs but Palm Trees, which are flowering plants, only show up in the Late Cretaceous. There are several types of plants in the Mesozoic that look like palm trees notably cycadoids. Conafirs like pines are also present.
The 3 types of Palms and 2 types Ferns (3 and 4 branched), note some recast play sets used MPC trees instead of the Marx. These are relatively flat figures recalling the old metal figures of Germany. Marx did make a variety of other trees and even some full figured palm trees used with the Noah's Ark play sets. These don't seem to ever have been used in the dinosaur play sets. The molds are still in use and the Palms show up regularly in faux Marx Military sets popular with Toy Soldier collectors. Pictures courtesy of Rick Fulton and PaleoPlastic.
More Marx demi flats. I think these were used in farms sets, There is a rare fern like pair also.
The dead tree and stumps were used in a variety of Marx Play sets and are still used for various Toy Soldier faux Marx play sets. Pictures courtesy of Rick Fulton and PaleoPlastic.
Another Marx demi flat.
There were several different Rock Formations this relatively late release is one of the most elaborate. I think it was also used in some cowboy and indian playsets.
This is the most popular Marx cave set and was recast in orange for the last play set.
There was also a fragile vacuum form terrain used in some play sets.
Also from Marx molds? Made in Hong Kong were ELM (Elegant Miniatures ) there figures were painted and made of a brittle plastic. It gives us an idea what Marx figures might have looked like if the technology had made painting plastic easier. There was a painted Marx display set used at the Nurenburg Toy Fair.
The story I heard was that Marx in the United Kingdom developed a set of minature molds of the large Marx figures. I recall treees and rocks also being mentioned. They were never marketed by Marx but the molds were used by later owners.
From the collection of Riff Smith picture by Joe DeMarco.
Land of the Dinosaurs a Marx play set Ghost. Marx Brothers.
The picture includes a pink mountain and Tim-Mee figures not included in the set and for some reason MPC palms were used not the Marx. The bright colored plastics used are a sign they are recasts. I suspect by this time the molds were in various hands. Toyway also released a Jurassic Park play set with Marx dinosaurs and Terrain but MPC Palm trees and an Ajax Plateosaurus. Speculation is that the some Marx molds like the Plateosaurus and Megatherium are no longer in use.
The toy business has changed since the Marx days but quality still has a market.. Playsets aren't popular with big Toy lines and are less elaborate. Accessories like trees are considered too static to interest kinds. The fastest growing section of the toy business is the educational market. Museum quality figures are painted and to scale with dinosaurs like Pachycephalosaurus, raptors, Spinosaurus, Carnotaurus and Brachiosaurus standard members of toy sets. A important part of the market now are the adult collectors espeically on the internet, while kids move to electronic toys and away from traditional toys. Playsets remain popular and enduring at the lower end of the market and the major companies may be missing an opportunity by not packaging for a playset market.
For additional information on Marx figures try these sites
Figure Junkie for a detailed look at the Marx dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals
The Rubber Dinosaur page great info and Pictures on MARX, MILLER, MPC, SAFARI etc figures.
To buy Marx/MPC/LIDO Collectables try
PaleoPlastic for Marx MPC collectables Rick Fulton provided a detailed break down of the mold group references for the items being sold.Go to Site A Home for Diorama using toy figures figures