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SWTNZ - From Soap to Star Wars, A Little Bit of Kenner History|
"Kenner Street" is located west of Cincinnati, this is where Joseph Steiner
and his two brothers Albert and Philip derived its name and was founded in
1946, the company first set itself up by producing mundane products such as
soaps and soft drinks. Business quickly increased when they came up with
their first toy called the "Bubble Matic", (a bubble shooting gun) they went on
to produce many well known toy lines such as Play-Doh, Spirograph, the
Give-a-Show slide projector and the Easy Bake Oven.
Above, The Bubble Matic (bubble gun) Produced in 1946
and Kenner's "Easy Bake Oven" from 1964
In 1965 General Mills purchases Cincinnati based "Rainbow Crafts" the Play-
Doh manufacturer and in 1967 General Mills purchases Kenner Products
lending a talented group of sculptors, engineers and pattern makers. In 1968
General Mills acquires Parker Brothers and by 1975 breaks the $100 million
dollar sales mark followed by a huge success with the "Six Million Dollar Man"
action figures which had become the industry's first successful television
license. With the help of film makers such as Stephen Spielberg and George
Lucas, who brought gold to the toy makers through their movies, Kenner
introduced the first Star Wars line in 1977 after the Mego Corporation had
rejected it in 1976, Kenner then created the industry standard 3.75 inch action
figure that continues to dominate the toy market to this very day. The
successful new toy line had buried G.I. Joe and their other movie base toys
such as Batman, becoming the company's most powerful toy success.
Above, Kenner's SpiroGraph and Star Wars Vintage Play-Doh Action Set..
By 1985 Kenner Parker Toys Inc had become America's fourth largest toy
company and in 1987 the Tonka Corporation acquired Kenner Parker Toys
Inc which was later sold again to Hasbro in 1991. Kenner had become a division
of the largest toy company in the world which included other divisions such
as Milton Bradley, Playskool and in 1994 Hasbro restructured its corporation
into two main groups. The Hasbro Toy Group which consisted of Kenner, Tonka
and Playskool and the Hasbro Games Group, consisting of Parker Brothers
and Milton Bradley. Kenner had produced hundreds of Star Wars figures,
vehicles and accessories right up until 1984 when Hasbro suddenly dropped
the Kenner name, but then in 1995 Star Wars toys were reintroduced once
again with the release of products tied into the novel "Shadows of the
Empire". More than 60 new Star Wars figures and vehicles came to the market
becoming the number one selling items for almost 12 months straight, second
only to Kenner's Batman action figures and accessories.
Then in 1997 Hasbro expanded its licensing agreement with Lucasfilm to
produce more toy lines for episodes 1,2 & 3 and in 1998 strengthened its
presence even further by purchasing Tiger Electronics, a leader in electronic
entertainment. Then Sadly in the year 2000 Hasbro announced it will be shutting
down its Cincinnati operations, ending an amazing 54 years of Kenner history.
The Kenner logo suddenly disappears and its founder Joseph Steiner passes
away at a ripe old age of 95..
1946 - 2000
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