Toys From the 40s

Updated April 17, 2017

The production of metal toys in the 1940s virtually came to a standstill as World War II battled on and demanded much of the metal supply. But the 1940s was a time filled with creative inventions, many of which have stood the test of time. Some of the most famous toys invented in the 1940s are still the most popular of their type today.


The yo-yo is a simple toy that has withstood the test of time. In the 1940s, the yo-yo was often made of wood with a string wrapped around a centre crevasse, but later plastic became a more common choice. Yo-yos are now made of metal, too. The string is tied around a finger and the body of the yo-yo is released. The operator then pulls up and the body restrings itself. In 1985 the yo-yo was taken to space in the Discovery space shuttle, where astronauts put the toy to the test in zero gravity.


In the 1940s, Monopoly made its way into the board game scene with advertisers calling it an introduction to "The World's First Competitive Sim!" The Parker Brothers released three sets of Monopoly from 1936 to 1940, selling more than 1.8 million of them. The game features two dice and at least two players who take turns moving their metal token around a board in a mission to buy all the real estate and make the other player run out of money.

Pogo Stick

While the first pogo stick was invented in 1917, it was made of wood and had to be shipped to the United States from Germany. This long journey by ship caused the pogo sticks to rot, making them inoperable. The first metal pogo stick came onto the market in 1947. The updated version was called the Master Pogo. Pogo sticks require the operator to put each foot onto a different side of a foot rest and bounce up and down while holding onto a handle. A spring at the base provides the bouncing effect.


Between one and two million Scrabble sets are sold each year throughout the world and more than 100 million sets have been sold worldwide since Scrabble became mainstream in the 1940s. Scrabble clubs have since popped up throughout the world. The game is one of the most famous board games that is appropriate for almost any age. It requires each player to strategically create words with tiles on a board to gain points from each word. The player with the most points wins.

Model Airplanes

Because of the lack of availability of metals during the war, companies were looking for new materials to use in toy manufacturing. The 1940s featured the invention of polystyrene plastic, which led to the use in model aeroplanes. Toy aeroplanes were modelled after actual wartime aircraft. Some of the models were radio-controlled and flew in competitions. The models could be controlled at a distance of up to one mile.

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About the Author

Sheri Lamb has been a reporter since 2006 in community newspapers throughout Canada. While she has covered virtually every beat associated with community newspapers, Lamb specializes in sports. In addition to her skills as a reporter, Lamb holds a certificate in computer programming. She also runs a small catering company.