In 1943, brothers Alvin and Earl Herdklotz established the A & E Tool and Gage Co. in Rockford, Illinois as a defense-based precision tool-and-die business. After World War II, focus shifted primarily to toy making. Operating under the name Midgetoy, the company began to produce basic, smaller-scale die-cast vehicles and airplanes at low price points.
To keep costs low, the company used a simple two-part mold process that yielded toys with minimal detail of 2 to 9-inches in length. Most Midgetoys featured full-wheel skirts, doors that were capable of opening and closing, but which lacked interior renderings. By offering toys a few pennies cheaper than their competitors, Midgetoy quickly endeared itself to five-and-dimes that were popular in the United States at the time.
Between 1946 and the 1970s, Midgetoy produced over 200 toy castings and numerous variations of each. An authentic Midgetoy was stamped with “Midgetoy, Rockford, Illinois on the bottom. As the toys grew in popularity, the company’s product line diversified to include vehicles from a variety of manufacturers, including Boeing Aircraft, Willys-Overland Motor Company, and North American Van Lines.
Eventually, the company had sales offices and representatives in a variety of US locations, including Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Boston. Midgetoy could also be seen peddling its wares at the annual Toy Fair in New York City.
In the early 1980s the Herdklotz brothers sold the company to a group of outside investors, only to reacquire it five years later. Instead of re-establishing a mass distribution channel for Midgetoys, the duo focused on liquidating remaining inventory to the collectors’ market via antique toy sales and flea markets.
This wholesale dealer catalog from the 1950s provides an excellent overview of the Midgetoy product line, complete with suggested retail prices.
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