The History Of The Radio Flyer Company
The wonderful toys produced by Radio Flyer have been a staple of childhood memories for over 85 years. Through the years, this popular toy company has continually improved in production and features, expanding their product line to entertain the children of each era.
The first Radio Flyer wagons were handcrafted by the 16 year old founder of the company, Antonio Pasin. These original wagons were made of sturdy wood using only the most basic wood-working equipment. By the beginning of the 1920’s, Radio Flyer followed the automotive industry’s lead and began manufacturing its signature wagon with steel. The first line of products, named the Liberty Line, included wagons, tricycles, and scooters, all made of innovative steel.
As the American economy slumped during the era of the Great Depression, Radio Flyer remained strong. The company was showcased at the 1933 World Fair in Chicago and used simple advertising campaigns to promote their little red wagon. In the mid-30’s the now world famous company introduced a second line of coaster wagons, the Streak-O-Lite. The Streak-O-Lite was modeled after the sleek style of the Zephyr trains, featuring control knobs and headlights that really worked.
Between 1942 and 1945 Radio Flyer, like many other American manufacturing companies, ceased production of their well known toys and spent their time manufacturing steel products needed by American troops during the second world war. Radio Flyer was awarded by the US Army and Navy for their high achievement in producing the much needed war materials. The company’s notability for their war efforts boosted confidence in their products. The Radio Line of the forties included three unique wagon styles combining steel and the original wooden construction and a sleek steel scooter.
By the middle of the century, Radio Flyer was a household name. The economy was steadily rising and products of the baby boom era were enjoying Radio Flyer specialty wagons inspired by popular television shows like the Mickey Mouse Club. The company even introduced a line of garden carts to aid suburban housewives with their yard care. America’s love of Radio Flyer continued to grow through the sixties as the company celebrated their fiftieth year.
With new logos and new product lines, Radio Flyer gracefully turned fifty. A new line of toddler walk-behind toys were introduced and the revolutionary Scat Racer ride-on toy became the envy of little racers everywhere. The next major shift in product line introduced the Ski Sled. This sleek sled was capable of carrying adult riders and featured a hand brake for added safety.
Over the next few years Radio Flyer’s line of products continued to expand. Those who enjoyed Radio Flyer toys as a child were now grown up with homes and children of their own. For these loyal customers, Radio Flyer introduced it’s All Grown Up line of outdoor furniture and heavy duty wheelbarrows. With the nineties, Radio Flyer added plastic wagons to their product line and offered many of their classic wagons and toys with new all-terrain tires.
Today, Radio Flyer is the world’s leading manufacturer of not only wagons, but tricycles as well. The company and their creative toys have had a place in the hearts and homes of both the young and old for almost ninety years and now holds a place in the Toy Industry Hall of Fame as well. Radio Flyer’s imaginative creations will continue to grow with the times and remain a mainstay in childhoods everywhere.