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Schuco was started in Nuremberg Germany in 1912 when Heinrich Muller and Heinrich Schreyer formed the toy company Schreyer & Co. In 1921 it became known simply as Schuco. The company started making small felt and fur covered mechanical figures and animals. World War I stopped production, but the company was back in business by 1919.
One of the first toys produced in the 1920's was the plush covered Pick-Pick Bird. This brightly colored tinplate clockwork toy was produced until the 1960s and there were 20 million made. It vibrated around in a circle and bobbed up and down.
Schuco's first tin toy appeared in the mid 1930's when it introduced the Schuco-Patent-Motor-Car. The car was clockwork powered and sported a special feature, it "turns back from the edge, and will not fall off the table." Its huge success led to many tinplate vehicles being produced.
World War II halted production again for Schuco, but production was again running strong by 1946. At that time Schuco tin toys began appearing in American stores. Heinrich Muller was still responsible for all of the designs. It is said that he tested each tin toy by throwing it on the floor to make sure it would stand up to a child's play. It was also the one behind many of the unique features that set Schuco toys apart from the rest.
The late 1940s and 1950s were the golden years for the tin toy industry and for Schuco. Sales boomed, but Schuco fell pray to the same problems that destroyed the tin toy industry in the mid to late 1960s. Tin was perceived to be unsafe and old-fashioned with sharp edges. Diecast metal and plastics were the new materials and tin was out.
In 1976 Schuco went out of business. In 1980, Gama, a previous competitor, acquired the brand and started producing reproductions of some of the early toys. They used original tooling whenever possible. The products were successfully marketed to nostalgia buyers.
Gamma merged with TRIX, and Schuco became a separate brand again. In 1999, Schuco was sold to the Simba-Dickie Group and today it is working hard to reestablish its reputation as a quality manufacturer of unique toys.