Contact Us

Classic Toys and Games That Were Created in New Jersey

TRENTON — If you live in New Jersey, you probably know the spaces on the board game Monopoly are named for Atlantic City streets. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to New Jersey’s presence in the world of toys.

Plastic green army men — first produced in Carlstadt, and later Hackettstown. The first sled you could steer down a snow-covered hill — developed in Cinnaminson. A cluttered basement in River Edge — the birthplace of Colorforms play sets.

These classic toys and many more are on display right now inside the New Jersey State Museum. Toy World, an exhibit running until April 30, takes visitors on a decades-long journey through New Jersey’s role as a leading toy maker.

The Garden State, at one point, was a true powerhouse in toy manufacturing. From the turn of the 20th century up until the 1960s, only four states produced more toys than New Jersey, according to Nicholas Ciotola, the museum’s curator of cultural history.

“There’s really hundreds of companies that were located throughout New Jersey and many pioneering moments in toy-making history happened right here in the Garden State,” Ciotola said.

New Jersey was also home to the very first talking doll, created by Thomas Edison. A factory in the Chambersburg neighborhood of Trenton was once known as the “World’s Largest Doll House” because it manufactured so many on an annual basis.

The exhibit recreates old-time department store windows, stacked floor to ceiling with Jersey-born toys. But you’ll have to resist the temptation to touch and play.

“We do not wind them up; we do not turn them on if they’re battery-powered,” Ciotola said. “We need to preserve them for future generations, so 100 years from now these pieces are still in perfect condition.”

The exhibit also recreates a living room set from the year 1959, equipped with a television constantly looping New Jersey toy company commercials from the 50s and 60s.

“People who lived through the 1950s walk into this space and they feel like they’ve been transported back in history,” Ciotola said.

Toy World is just one of a handful of exhibits running Tuesday through Sunday at the museum along West State Street. The admission fee is an optional donation.

More from Cat Country 107.3:

Subscribe to Cat Country 107.3 on

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at

Best of Cat Country

Recommended For You

Best of the Web

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing VIP profile. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to using your original account information.

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

(Forgot your password?)

Not a member? Sign up here

Sign up for Cat Country Club quickly by connecting your Facebook account. It's just as secure and no password to remember!