1935 Marx, "Tricky Fire Chief Where's The Fire?" with Base in Original Box

1935 Marx,

Here is for a complete Marx Tricky Fire Chief set which includes the wind-up clockwork Fire Chief Car, its matching lithographed tin base, original key, and its original box. Marx produced many versions of their tin litho clockwork "Tricky" automobile for 25 years. However, it was only during the first year of production that their Tricky Taxi and Tricky Fire Chief were accompanied by a lithographed tin base. The box which held the car and base was also available for just that one year. 

The condition of the toy and original box are outstanding. Near mint and by far the highest grade example I've found. 

The base also has a 1/8" diameter hole punched in the center. It was used in conjunction with one of the many tricks suggested by Marx. To do the trick a wooden match would be inserted into the hole. You'll notice that the right rear axle on the Chief's car extends out slightly more than the left axle. The right axle would be lined up with the match. As the car runs it'll stay in position against the match whirling continuously around it.  Many references also show a second version without the hole.

The Fire Chief car itself looks fantastic. Deep, crimson red with black trim and chassis. The trunk includes the early style Marx logo. The front pair of wheels are dummies, but set into the chassis between them is a steel ball bearing. Working like a "track-ball" it allows the car to pivot and make super quick turns. Power is provided from the two rear wheels. A third wheel in the center of the chassis turns perpendicular to the rear wheels giving it its random, right or left, movement. 

The lithography on the base is unusual in that it tells an adult theme story. It shows the chaotic turmoil at a busy city intersection where fireman and policemen are attempting to locate the fire. Pedestrians on the street, on roof tops, and in windows wrongly direct the fire fighters in several different directions. The fire is isolated to one building, but the smoke is coming from three other directions. 

Three men, each puffing away on an unusually long stemmed pipe are responsible for the smoke. Located in the lower right and left corners, and the upper left corner, the men are shown relaxed, reclined, and totally oblivious to the street confusion below. The man in the lower right corner looks Asian, while the man in the top left corner appears bombed out of his skull. I've looked at this scene for a long time and in my opinion these men are smoking opium! Why such a thing would be lithographed onto a child's toy will probably never be known, but there are two other questions to consider. 1) Does the pipe smoker in the lower left corner, looking directly at the viewer represent Louis Marx and 2) why were so many hospital workers in white uniforms shown? 

The original box is finely detailed. The vehicle is shown on the left running in several directions on the base. The inference is that it won't fall off the base, or a table top. The right side shows an enlarged section of the base although its not identical to the toy. The "Tricky Fire Chief" title appears in huge block letters on a badge. "Where's the Fire" is illustrated above the right panel. Silhouettes of fire fighters line the edges of the box. The end flaps and side panels promote the toy's "mysterious" ability to avoid falling off a table top and to do tricks. 

Size: Car 4" long. Base: 10" x 5½". Box 10½" x 6" x 1½".

Sold: Jun. 2006

Price Sold: $ 682


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Subject: 1935 Marx, "Tricky Fire Chief Where's The Fire?" with Base in Original Box

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