ToysBulletin.com takes a look back at one of the best selling toys from the 50s.
Occasionally, Toys Bulletin likes to do a nostalgic review of a toy or game from years past. Today, we are going to take a brief look at the world of Davy Crockett.
Davy Crockett, born in 1786, was a noted frontiersman in the 1800s, and most famous for helping defend the Alamo, where he died in 1836. But in the 1950s, his fame grew to even greater heights. “Davy Crockett, Indian Fighter,” starring Fess Parker, premiered on ABC’s “Disneyland” TV show on December 15, 1954. It was an instant hit. That first show was quickly followed by “Davy Crockett Goes to Congress” on January 26, 1955 and then “Davy Crockett at the Alamo” on February 23, 1955. After all three episodes, of what was considered to be TV’s first mini-series, had aired, the Crockett phenomenon grew to epic proportions, and Walt Disney himself could not believe his good fortune. Seeing the success of the series, he immediately capitalized on the show by licensing the distribution and sale of all kinds of Davy Crockett paraphernalia. It seemed that every kid in the country had watched the shows, and everyone wanted a “coonskin” cap, a Crockett rifle (which Davy named Old Betsy), or maybe the biggest prize of all a “Leather Fringed Jacket.” The line of toys and other merchandise quickly included outfits for girls, games, plastic play sets, lunchboxes, furniture, pillows, bedspreads, tents, records, boots and lots more. The list would rival the volume of Star Wars toys available today.
Topps Chewing Gum, Inc., more famous for issuing baseball cards, decided to release a set of Davy Crockett trading cards, 80 in total all featuring scenes from the TV shows. The cards sold like hot cakes, forcing Topps to issue another 80 cards. The first 80 cards are generally referred to as the Orange Back cards and the second set as the Green Back cards. A pack of cards would have normally sold for around 5 cents back then, including 7 cards and a stick of bubble gum. Today, a complete set of 160 cards, will fetch as much as $1,000 or more. Even more surprising, an unopened original Davy Crockett single pack of cards, including the wrapper, might bring in nearly as much. The wrappers are considered extremely rare since most kids generally threw them away.
After the success of the TV series, the 3 episodes that had aired on “Disneyland” were combined into a feature length movie, “Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier,” and released in theaters on May 25, 1955. Today, an original one-sheet poster from that movie and a complete set of eight original theatrical lobby cards (these advertising photos hung outside the theater to help promote the film) are valued at around $500.
But, it is the toys that really took the nation by storm. I wanted to show photos (see catalog page) of some of those best selling toys, including their original prices, just so readers can take a look at what kids wanted for Christmas in 1955. The photos were actually taken from a 1955 Spiegel mail order catalog. Spiegel, based in Chicago, was at the time much like Amazon is today……it carried a wide variety of goods, but had no physical retail stores. They competed directly with Sears Roebuck & Company, which also sold toys, not only in their stores but from a catalog as well.
As you can see the prices seem like Thrift shop pricing today, but remember it has been over 60 years since those Davy Crockett days. Disney followed up with two more Crockett adventures in late 1955, including “Davy Crockett’s Keelboat Race,” and “Davy Crockett and the River Pirates.” But, by the end of the decade, the interest was waning. For those who lived in the 50s, those Davy Crockett days were very special and that Crockett name will always be associated with a truly memorable line of toys.