Travel Theme: Toys — they don’t make ’em like that anymore

Looking a bit the worse for wear. Much loved FunHo bulldozer from the Big T's childhood. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Looking a bit the worse for wear. Much loved Fun Ho! front end loader from the Big T’s childhood. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

In these days of global brands and game-slash-movie-tie-ins, kids toys have a sort of universality.

From Taipei to Taihape, Moscow to Motueka, you’ll find shops full of the same kid-magnet merchandise: Minions, Frozen, Transformers, Jurassic Park — everything from figurines to lunch boxes. Even established toy companies like Lego seem to be creating more and more themed ranges — including Minecraft, Disney Princess, Star Wars and even Scooby Doo.

Toys that are locally-themed, let along locally-made, seem increasingly rare.

Fun Ho! a company in Taranaki, New Zealand, started making sand-cast aluminium toys in 1942. According to the company’s website:

During the 1970s, over a million Fun Ho! toys were sold annually each year, but in the late 1970’s, import restrictions were lifted and people started buying the cheaper imported toys which flooded the local market, instead of buying the Fun Ho! aluminium or diecast toys.

By 1982, toy production ceased and in 1987 the factory finally closed after over 50 years of manufacturing.

Since then only small quantities have been made as reproductions for the collector market. (Fun Ho! History)

There can’t be many Kiwi-raised adults who have never owned (or at least seen) one of the cars, tractors, fire engines or other vehicles made by Fun Ho! — even if they don’t recognise them as such.

Model 105 Large Fire Engine by Fun Ho! , Taranaki, NZ. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Model 105 Large Fire Engine by Fun Ho! , Taranaki, NZ. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Today, Fun Ho! toys are very collectable, and those aren’t too well-loved can fetch high prices in antique shops. The Big T obviously enjoyed his Fun Ho! toys quite a lot — they are all much too well-loved for resale.

photo 4

Tip truck; although I can’t find this one on the Fun Ho! website. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

This post was written as part of Ailsa’s Travel Theme at Where’s my Backpack. The theme this week is toys.


15 thoughts on “Travel Theme: Toys — they don’t make ’em like that anymore

    • Aren’t they cool. The boys went to the Fun Ho! museum in Inglewood a few years ago. I somehow managed to not go with them, but am thinking about doing it on my next trip down that way.


    • Hehe. I’m wondering what we’re going to do with all the old toys we’ve stored when we sell this house. Between the Matchbox cars, Lego, Mechano, Fun Ho! stuff …. Not to mention Thomas the Tank Engine wooden railway. AAAAGH!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Pretty cool story about the local toy company from back in the day. Cute trucks! You’re right about the licensing of toys today, it’s inescapable. It goes beyond toys and seems like you can’t buy clothes, food, or any kid-related product without some character’s face on it. I find it frustrating.


    • You’re right; it does go well beyond toys. I do remember when my son was little trying to avoid, particularly, the junk foods plastered with whatever the latest Disney character was. Thinking back, I was fortunate, he could love the character, but never seemed to “need” the merchandise.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s nice that he didn’t have to have the merchandise. My kids ask for stuff if they see it when we’re out, but I remind them of all of the stuff at home that they already have (that other people have bought for them, usually) and they get over it.

        Liked by 1 person

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