Kenner Toy history gathers in Cincinnati tomorrow with a full symposium and we here at CompleteSet look forward to a day filled with reunions, toys, and utterly interesting presentations!
From its beginning in 1947, Kenner has been a major point of pride when it comes to Cincinnati’s deep rooted toy history. Brothers Albert, Phillip, and Joseph L. Steiner began the company naming it after the street in Cincinnati where the original corporate offices were first located. That street sits just north of Cincinnati’s Union Terminal (known to many as the storied “Hall of Justice” from the Super Friends cartoon of the 70s and 80s). So many sought after collectibles came out of this company’s creative confines, and the Star Wars action figure history (for which it is so well known) is just a part of the story.
Though the company was eventually sold and pulled away from city that CompleteSet calls home, that Kenner history is being celebrated throughout December and into January (through the 16th) with an exhibit at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County (as we announced previously). We’re back today with this follow-up aiming to load you up with all the details you need on the exhibits and tomorrow’s events.
The main exhibit titled “Just in Time for the Holidays: Kenner Toys” features a broad look at the toys and history. Here are the official details:
Just in Time for the Holidays: Kenner Toys takes a fun look at the childhood memories surrounding some of Kenner most beloved toys. The display is located inside the Popular Library exhibit cases. On other floors in the Library, display cases will contain Kenner toy catalogs from 1966 to 1990, depicting the company’s marketing strategies throughout the decades. Also featured will be a special case that explores the origins of Star Wars toys, with images of the first prototypes created by Kenner and presented to Star Wars filmmakers in March of 1977.
Smaller displays will focus on other Cincinnati toy companies such as Doepke Toys, Stuart Toys and Poynter Products. There will also be toys on display by Bang Zoom Design, a Cincinnati product invention company that carries on the spirit of toy-making here in the Queen City. The company has made many designs for toy lines including Elmo, Monsters University and Dora the Explorer.
Finally, learn the origins of three toys that got their start here in the Greater Cincinnati area: the Magic Eight Ball, Uno Cards and Pound Puppies.
Also, in the main library you will find “Brought to You by Maker Toys” which unveils a secondary display showcasing toys made from 3D printers and laser engravers. This exhibit takes place within Makerspace. For those not in the know, Makerspace is an incredible spot within the Library where people can gather, create, invent, and learn. Customers of the Library have access to 3D printers, audio and visual equipment, laser cutters and engravers, sewing machines, cameras, and other hardware and software tools which they can use for free to create pretty much anything they can imagine.
That said, tomorrow’s Kenner Toy Symposium is the highlight event. In celebration of the exhibits detailed above and the upcoming release of The Force Awakens, the main library is hosting this day-long symposium with former Kenner employees sharing it with the public (no registration is required). For those attending, here is the official schedule of events:
Kenner History (10:00 AM – Noon)
Corky Steiner, the son and nephew of Kenner’s founders, will retell the history of the company through 50 years of vintage Kenner toy commercials wrapped into two 20-minute segments. The segments will be followed with a Q&A session featuring former Kenner executives.
The Phases Of Kenner Toys (1:00 PM – 3:15 PM)
Take an in-depth look at the various phases of the Kenner Toy company from the 1950s to ‘90s. Session will feature actual video interviews with the leadership that guided Kenner in the post Steiner era from 1972 to its closing in 2000. A Q&A session with Kenner employees will follow.
1950s – 1970s: A family business to General Mills management
1970s – 1980s: General Mills to Tonka
1990s – 2000s: Hasbro’s acquisition of Kenner and Hasbro’s consolidation of its various entities to their Rhode Island general offices in 2000.
Plastic Galaxy Screening (3:30 PM – 4:30 PM)
Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys, directed by Brian Stillman, examines the history and pop-culture impact of Kenner’s of Star Wars toy line.
Panel discussion With Star Wars Toy Designers (4:30 PM – 5:30 PM)
Moderated by director Brian Stillman, this panel discussion will feature original Star Wars toy designers Jim Swearingen, Tom Osborne, and Mark Boudreaux.
For more information on any of these activities, please contact the Genealogy & Local History Department of the Library at 513-369-6905. The event is set to take place in the Main Library’s Reading Garden Lounge located at 800 Vine Street Cincinnati, Ohio. We hope to see you there!