c.1930 Marx, Wonder Cyclist in Original Box (1st version)

c.1930 Marx, Wonder Cyclist in Original Box (1st version)

The classic Kiddie Cyclist (boy riding tricycle) produced by the Unique Art Manufacturing Co. around 1938 used multiple points of articulation to create a life-like, realistic clockwork metal toy. Interestingly, the Louis Marx Co. produced a nearly identical toy in two different versions. One was released around the same time period as the Unique Art toy, but an earlier model was manufactured nearly eight years before. For only the second time in four years I've found a high grade example of the original early 1930's toy complete with its original box. 

Of course it's the "kid on a bike" toy, but with more detail and realism than the later versions. Pressed, painted aluminum was used to make the head and torso. This not only allowed for greater detail, but also reduced the weight of toy allowing it to move easier and farther. The arms and legs are tin litho. 

The boy is clothed in a one-piece knickered suit with a painted, high neckline. The chest front was striated with embossed vertical lines to resemble fabric, probably wool. Facial characteristics were finely painted and rounded with deeply embossed features. Individual teeth can be seen, while strands of hair were embossed above the forehead. The neck, legs, and arms are sleek and thin; much less "puffy" than the later models. 

The bicycle is primarily heavy gauge polished tinplate. Only the handlebars, foot-pegs, rear axle, chrome plated bell, and attached key are steel. The wheels have flattened exterior surfaces for greater traction with six narrow, metal spokes for lighter weight. 

The later Marx toy is also aluminum and tin litho, while the Unique Art is all tin litho. Coloring and tricycle style are completely different on all three. Unique Art toy had solid disk wheels. Marx still used spokes although the steel rods were replaced by tin litho. I've provided a photo below of the three versions side-by-side for comparison. This photo was taken from a previously sold toy four years ago. 

Also of interest.....there is no Marx logo on this toy. Neither was there one on the later Marx version. It probably had something to do with license infringement. Why Marx produced two versions of a toy whose patent was held by a competitor is unknown. Only the box has a logo and without it the toy is nearly impossible to identify. I could find no published reference to either version of the Marx toy except as a price guide listing. 

This is only the third box for this toy that I've seen. It shows the happy lad briskly cycling down an incline. He has his left hand raised which is not possible with the actual toy. The illustration was repeated on all four panels. One endflap is hinged, while the opposite end has two overlapping flaps with locking tabs (i.e., "open other side"). It comes complete with the original insert as well. 

Lastly, one of the most striking differences between this toy and its future models is the way it came packed inside the box. The box size of this earlier version is roughly half the size of that used for the second version. That's because it required assembly. When you first open the box the boy is not completely attached to the cycle. He flips down and over the handlebars to fit into the smaller compartment. Assembly directions and a separate schematic illustration were included on the two interior endflaps as shown below. The later version comes completely assembled upright and needed a much larger space. The Unique Art toy also did not require assembly. 

Size: 9" tall x 8" long x 5" wide. 

Sold: Jun. 2008

Price Sold: $ 450


Send Comments

Email Address:
Confirm Email Address:
Subject: c.1930 Marx, Wonder Cyclist in Original Box (1st version)

security code