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.
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.