Playskool Inc.
FormerlyThe Playskool Institute
Company typeDivision (1928–68)
Subsidiary (1968–84)
Brand (1984–present)
FoundedJuly 26, 1928 (1928-07-26)
FounderAdilyn Oblatore
Defunct1984; 40 years ago (1984)
FateAcquired by Milton Bradley in 1968, last factory closed in 1984,[1] becoming a brand of Hasbro.[2]
Key people
Manuel Fink
ProductsEducational toys
Brands(see below)
$23 million (1965[1])
Number of employees
700 (1984[2])
  • John Lumber (1928–35)
  • Thorncraft, Inc. (1935–68)
  • Milton Bradley (1968–84)
  • J.L. Wright Co.
  • Halsam Co.

Playskool is an American brand of educational toys and games for children. The former Playskool manufacturing company was a subsidiary of the Milton Bradley Company and was headquartered in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Playskool's last remaining plant in Chicago was shut down in 1984, and Playskool became a brand of Hasbro, which had acquired Milton Bradley that same year.[2]


The "Playskool Institute" was established by Lucille King in 1928 as a division of the John Schroeder Lumber Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.[3] King, an employee at the company, developed wooden toys to use as teaching aids for children in the classroom. In 1935, the Playskool Institute became a division of Thorncraft, Inc., and established offices in Chicago, Illinois. In 1938, Playskool was purchased by the Joseph Lumber Company, where Manuel Fink was placed in charge of operations. In 1940, Fink, along with Robert Meythaler, bought Playskool and established the "Playskool Manufacturing Company".[4]

In 1943, Playskool bought the J.L. Wright Company, the manufacturer of Lincoln Logs. In 1958, Playskool merged with Holgate Toys, Inc., a wood product manufacturer based in Kane, Pennsylvania. In 1962, they purchased the Halsam Company, a producer of wooden blocks, checkers, dominoes, and construction sets. In 1968, Playskool became a subsidiary of Milton Bradley; both companies were acquired by Hasbro, Inc. in 1984.[4]

After the acquisition, Playskool began operating out of Pawtucket, Rhode Island as a division of Hasbro.[5] In 1985,[6] Playskool released a line of infant products under the Tommee Tippee brand name, including bibs and bottles. Many Hasbro products targeted at preschoolers were rebranded with the Playskool name, including Play-Doh, and Tonka. Playskool also began licensing toys from other designers, creating licensing agreements to manufacture Teddy Ruxpin, Barney, Arthur, Teletubbies, and Nickelodeon branded products.[5] Hasbro also began licensing the Playskool brand name to other vendors, manufacturing a number of products under the Playskool name, including books, baby care supplies, video games, and children's apparel.[5][7][8][9][10]


Playskool produced many lines of educational toys and games for children.[11] Playskool's signature brands and toys include Mr. Potato Head, Tonka, Alphie,[12] Weebles, Elefun, Sesame Street toys, and Gloworm.

Playskool creates products for newborn to preschool-aged children; products like the Kick Start Gym, Step Start Walk 'n Ride, and the Tummy Time line are aimed at developing the motor skills of babies.[13][14][15] Several toys, like Playskool's Pipeworks, Go Go Gears, and Busy Basics lines, were created to allow children to express creativity.[16][17] Playskool also produces several dolls and action figures, including Dolly Surprise and Kota the Triceratops.[18] During the 1970s, Playskool also released a toy series named "Familiar Places" which included several toy buildings along with vehicles and toy people, including a McDonald's restaurant,[19] Holiday Inn hotel[20] and Texaco gas station.[21]

Playskool released toys based on Television Programmes aimed at young children like Sesame Street, Top Wing, In the Night Garden..., Boohbah, Bob the Builder, and Rubbadubbers.

Playskool heroes toys feature characters from various properties in a scale more suited for younger children. These figures are similar to Imaginext.

These properties included:


Playskool brands included:

  1. ^ a b c Moved to Fisher-Price.
  2. ^ In Europe.
  3. ^ moved from Fisher-Price.
  4. ^ a b Moved from Just Play.
  5. ^ Moved to Microsoft ActiMates.


Slogan Years Used
Our toys make good friends (1970s)
Feeling good about the Playskool years (1985–1992)
What will they think of next? (1992–1997)
Wanna play with us? (1997–1999)
Come and Discover! (2000–2001)
Here I Come, World! (2001–2002)
Playskool Plays Kool (2002–2004)
Let's Play! (2004–2007)
When Play Comes First... (2006-2007)
Believe in PLAY (2007–2009)
More Than Play (2009–2011)
P.S. It's Playskool (2011–2012)
This School Rocks! (2012–present)


  1. ^ a b Playskool, Inc. at Encyclopedia of Chicago
  2. ^ a b c Playskool MFG Co. at Chicago Museum
  3. ^ "About Us | Playskool". Archived from the original on 2012-08-06.
  4. ^ a b Liz, Slade; Jennifer Moore; Nora Brennan Morrison; Jeff Cronin. "Playskool Manufacturing Company". Lehman Brothers Collection Guide. President and Fellows of Harvard College. Retrieved 2009-10-22.
  5. ^ a b c Woodward, A (1999). "Playskool, Inc". International Directory of Company Histories. Retrieved 2009-11-30.
  6. ^ Playskool, Inc. History on
  7. ^ Ashdown, Simon (October 1, 1999), "Hasbro Does that Synergy Thing", Kidscreen, p. 18
  8. ^ Colman, Gregory (February 1, 1991), "What's Playskool's name doing on a pair of sneakers?; Playskool Inc. and other toy companies license their name", Children's Business, vol. 6, no. N2, p. 61
  9. ^ "Retailers up ante with exclusive lines", Chain Drug Review, vol. 28, no. 19, p. 31, 2006-11-06, retrieved 2009-11-30
  10. ^ "Hasbro requires digital gaming rights Infogames for $65 million", Hasbro press release, 9 June 2005.
  11. ^ Ogata, Amy (2004). "Creative Playthings". Winterthur Portfolio. 39 (2/3): 129–156. doi:10.1086/433197. S2CID 151517793.
  12. ^ Coopee, Todd (19 August 2019). "Alphie the Electronic Robot". Toy Tales.
  13. ^ Tramontana, Lisa (2009-12-10). "New Toys, Old Tricks: Hot and unusual toys with familiar themes amuse kids and adults". The Advocate. Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Capital City Press. pp. 18–FUN.
  14. ^ Bernstein, Margaret (2003-04-20). "High-tech toys to amuse baby". Times-Picayune. New Orleans, Louisiana: The Times-Picayune Publishing Company. p. 20.
  15. ^ Chang, Irene (August–September 2008), "Playtime Time-out", Working Mother, vol. 31, no. 6, p. 116, retrieved 2009-11-30
  16. ^ "Preschool construction workers design and build" (Press release). PR Newswire. 1988-11-29. Retrieved 2009-11-30.[dead link]
  17. ^ "Want a safe, lasting gift? Here's help". Grand Rapids Press. Michigan. 2002-11-28. p. A22.
  18. ^ Evertz, Mary (2009-12-09). "Oh boy toys // Let the shopping begin, but be forewarned: This year's hot toys are selling fast". St. Petersburg Times. Florida. p. 1D.
  19. ^ "Playskool: Familiar Places and Play Friends: #430 Familiar Places McDonalds®". Archived from the original on 2019-07-15. Retrieved 2019-10-30.
  20. ^ Lisa M. Bagley. "Playskool: Familiar Places and Play Friends: #480 Familiar Places Holiday Inn®". Retrieved 2020-09-16.
  21. ^ Lisa M. Bagley. "Playskool: Familiar Places and Play Friends: #1107 Texaco, A "Familiar Places" Activity Toy". Retrieved 2020-09-16.