Toy Set Failure

Even the most successful companies have their failures on occasion.  For Crayola (then Binney & Smith Co.) that came in the form of fancy Toy Sets.  In 1922 they expanded their original two larger box sets called Little Folks into a full line of attractive activity sets. 

They thought that the success of the two Little Folk Outfit boxes could be expanded.  Unfortunately they were wrong.  The idea seemed reasonable.  Put together an attractive theme and include some crayons, some coloring page material and perhaps even paint and brushes.

What they failed to consider was that the cost of producing these sets forced them to set the price that was outside their market.

Crayons boxes in this era were only several cents and these boxes cost up to $2 which made them affordable only to the upper income families.

Crayola should have already learned that lesson having set out right from the beginning to produce the best quality crayon and an affordable price.

Crayola kept their toy set line going from 1922 until 1929 when they finally admitted that they weren't making money on them and in fact losing money.  By this time they had introduced nearly a dozen different sets.  The relatively short time span these were available make them some of the most desirable and expensive assortments to obtain now.

Several of the boxes have only a single surviving example and many have none at all (so far).

Crayola wasn't alone though.  American Crayon and others also attempted theme color sets with little success; all learning the same ageless lesson in price point to consumers.

Perhaps one of the rarest of the themed coloring sets was Crayola's Baby Snookums Coloring Set.

This was a set that used a then licensed character; Baby Snookums.  In 1927 when Crayola introduced this set, Baby Snookums was a media phenom of the time.  He was one of the first child movie stars and had a host of products with his image.  

Sadly, Baby Snookums only lived to be 10 years old; he died of blood poisoning.  This box was only out on the market for less than 2 years and no examples are known to exist.  Until one surfaces we only have advertising to know it existed.

While the toy sets didn't create gold for Crayola or other companies, they did set the gold standard for rarity and desirability for those now collecting them.

1 comment:

  1. I have a ad/order form for the Snookums Crayola Color Set from Child Life Magazine September 1927. I cant find it anywhere online. Does anyone know how common they are or the approximate value?