Auburn Rubber Company

Auburn Rubber Company started as a tire manufacturer in 1910, expanded its line over the years, and added toy soldiers shortly after 1935. The toy soldiers and animals were made of the same rubber as the tires, and were dipped in a lacquer before painting. The first figure designs were by the artist Edward McCandlish (see Links), with some later designs appearing to have been done by the firm Ferriot Brothers (who also did sculpting for Marx and possibly Ohio Art). The exact origin of the various sculpts after McCandlish is not really known. During the period Auburn produced in actual rubber they went through a logo change. The first products, including the sculpts by McCandlish, are often marked by the Aub-Rubr name. At some point Auburn added a new logo and name, ARCOR. This appears on rubber animals of the second design series, and may have been introduced during an overhaul of the company's packaging made in the early 1940's. Some rubber figures and animals only have made in USA on them, with no other company logo. There was a hiatus in production during WWII due to rubber not being available.

Rubber toy production began again in 1950 until it was replaced by vinyl plastic production. The first plastic injection machine was brought on line in 1952, and in a short time all of the toy production had changed to vinyl. The earlier series of figures appear to have been entirely replaced at this time. It must have been necessary to create all new molds for the different machinery, and Auburn took advantage of the higher detail levels of vinyl by creating a completely new set of sculpts. Most of this sculpt series was used throughout the remainder of the company's life. There was one last series of new sculpts made - the fourth set of farm animals. This last series is the smallest, following a trend of decreasing sizes (which used less material and were more cost effective). During the vinyl period the company began using it's full name in advertising, simply replacing ARCOR in the safe play logo. The company name does not appear on any of the vinyl or later figures. The bases can be either smooth, or with round indentations on them. In some examples Made in USA appears inside a larger indentation on the base. It is uncertain if these base variations mean anything about the age of the figure. A final change in materials occurred in the early Sixties when production switched from vinyl to a more typical soft plastic. Soft plastic was used for figures until the company went into bankruptcy in 1969. The soldier molds appear to have survived, as recent recasts have appeared from a Mexican producer. It is also possible they are simply using old figures as mold models. There is no information I am aware of about the fate of any of Auburn's molds.

One final interesting note is a series of composition farm animals. There is no evidence that Auburn ever produced composition animals, even during WWII when they were likely busy producing for the war effort. Yet this series does exist. It has no maker's marks on it, and could be an illegal knockoff of Auburn. The animals are obviously from the McCandlish sculpt series. It is also possible that the molds for this series could have been sold when the second series of rubber animals was introduced. Who the maker of this series is will likely remain a mystery. I have placed them in this section as they fit here better than elsewhere.

Figures by Series

Hard Rubber Farm Sets Series 1

Hard Rubber Farm Sets Series 2

Vinyl Farm Sets Series 3

Vinyl & Soft Plastic Farm Sets Series 4

Native Americans (Indians)


Roundup Set (Cowboys & Cattle)

North American Animals

Noah's Ark & Jungle Animals