An inspired idea from two New York City artists became one of the best-selling playthings of all time.
In 1951, husband-and-wife art students, Harry and Patricia Kislevitz, wanted an alternative to conventional paint to decorate their New York City apartment.
They cut varying shapes and sizes from rolls of coloured vinyl to adorn their walls and invited guests to add to the creations.
As excitement built for their idea, the couple was inspired to create kits to sell to other artists founding Colorforms Brand, LCC, and offering Colorforms kits.
FAO Schwarz was the first retailer to offer Colorforms. The kits quickly became a hit with children. The product was such a success that the Kislevitzs moved production from their apartment to a factory in New Jersey.
The first licensed Colorforms character was Popeye, in 1957, followed later by Batman, The Beatles, and television shows such as Space: 1999, Star Trek, Welcome Back Kotter, Sesame Street, and Scooby-Doo.
Colorforms also created education-focused kits to teach children about the weather, space, and more.
Colorforms continually created timely kits that echoed what was happening in popular culture.
Toy Biz acquired Colorforms from the Kislevitzs in 1997. The company changed hands a number of times before landing with 9 Story Media Group in 2018, a Toronto-based production and distribution company.
The first Colorforms set created by Patricia Kislevitz is part of the permanent collection in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
The Toy Industry of America (TIA) listed Colorforms as one of the top 10 toys of the century in 2000.
In 2011, Time Magazine named Colorforms one of the top 100 toys of all time.
Harry Kislevitz was posthumously inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame in 2020.
Colorforms remains a popular object of play with today’s children.