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Starting in the early 1950s, the Louis Marx Company began a new line of historical figures. These highly detailed "statuettes" featured the likenesses of historically significant men and women (mostly men).

The sets focused on recent history, such as: the Marx U.S. Presidents series, the Marx Great WWII Generals series, the Marx Great Canadians series, the British Royal Family set, President Eisenhower & First Lady Mamie Eisenhower, and even a figure of Louis Marx himself. In the early 1960s JFK & Jackie Kennedy were also cast in plastic. These figures were usually 60mm sized and white hard plastic. Kids were encouraged to paint them.

The Marx Toy Company soon got religion in a big way, specifically the Catholic faith. This was somewhat ironic since Louis Marx was Jewish - but he knew his market.

In the mid-1950s the Religious Statuettes series was introduced, which featured highly detailed figures of Jesus and the Apostles. Other products from the "series" included the Nativity Set and various other sets based upon the bible.

Religious Statuettes' "Christ and his Apostles" box set (shown above and on left). With its disctinctive yellow & blue cover and blue & gold interior, the box set included Jesus and 14 Apostles. The packaging is very similar to the original boxed sets of the Marx Presidents Series.

Shown on right: The blue plastic Religious Statuettes store display features Jesus and the Apostles also from the mid-1950s. The uncommon display includes the rare, left-handed Jesus figure. Although the front label is not in the greatest shape, the right side probably had a price for the set, and the left side features the older mid-1950s MARX logo ("MAR" in a circle with a large "X")

Click the photos to see larger images.

From the Flubber Gallery collection.
All photos copyright Abby Weissman, 2009
The "Electrically Lighted" Nativity Set, shown left and below featured an illustrated pressed tin manger, an electric light, and figures of Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the Arc Angel, the three wise men, stable animals and others.

Click the photos to see larger images

From the early 1960s, when British Hong Kong opened up as a manufacturing location, the Marx Toy Company was on a roll. They began recycling and re-marketing many of their older 60mm figure lines by miniaturizing and painting them. Some of these newly-reborn "kin"-sized product lines included Marx Disneykins, MarxFairykins, and TV-Tinykins (Hanna-Barbera characters). Older lines such as the U.S. Presidents and Jesus and the Apostles were also scaled down and re-packaged for a new generation of small fingers.
Shown on right: This small Religious Figures easel-backed display card features the miniaturized, hand-painted editions of the same larger religious figures. Although this mid-1960s product is not officially branded a "Marx" item, it is widely assumed to be made by the Marx Toy Company. At the bottom it reads "Hand Styled and Hand Painted" and "Made in Hong Kong."

Additional religious toys were also released in the early 1960s – such as the Noah's Ark miniature playset (in HO scale) and the very rare Ten Commandments miniature playset. There may be other sets as well.

What makes all these figures notable today is their excellent sculpting and their uncanny likenesses to their models (when available). They were also considered educational toys which taught children about history and current events. The Jesus & the Apostles figures, like the Marx Presidents, were sold initially in hard white plastic and later were available in handpainted versions.

This educational tie-in was later exploited even further in the early-to-mid 1960s with the highly successful Warriors of the World line. Sometimes referred to as W.O.W., the "Warriors" were representations of soldiers and their leaders from the past through the then present. Each Warriors of the World figure came with a collector's card which featured a short biography of the figure and his historical significance. The Warriors line featured Romans, Vikings, Pirates, Revolutionary War soldiers with British and Americans, the Civil War's Union and Confederates, World War I soldiers (U.S., British, French, and German), World War II (British, German, U.S.), cowboys, Indians, West Point Cadets, and U.S. Cavalry, to name a few. Many are highly valued by collectors, especially figures from the rarer Second and Third Series. Warriors were also available as fantastic 6-inch figures, again in unpainted and painted versions (hard plastic). These large "Warriors" offer the best examples of the Marx factory artisans' sculpture skills.

© 2009 The Flubber Gallery. All rights reserved. All images by Abby Weissman from the Flubber Gallery collection.
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Last updated 6.11.08

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