This little row of colourful ducks is known as the ‘Quacky Family.’ Patented and produced by the Fisher Price Toy company, this Quacky Family is one of over forty duck toys put on store shelves by the company between the years 1931-1994. While the toy in the South Frontenac Museum is missing its original front pull-string, the idea of this toy is that all three baby ducks would waddle behind their Mother Duck, pulled along by the child who owned the toy. All versions of this toy made quacking noises as they were pulled, truly living up to their name of Quacky Family!
Over the span of 12 years, there were 4 different variations produced of the Quacky Family. The particular version on display was seen on shelves between 1948-1954. Its metal connectors and blue wheels are a marker of the era it was produced, as well as the flat-topped hat of the Mother Duck and the necks on each baby. In its original form, the Quacky Family toy was sold for $0.50, however by its third rendition, as featured here, this toy was sold to families for $1.25!
Fisher Price Toy Company was founded in 1930 by Herm Fisher, Irving Price and Helen Schelle who agreed that the world needed more imaginative and fun-focused toys. In their first line of toys, they produced a group which they called the “16 hopefuls.” These toys would be the prototypes that determined the company’s success. Perhaps the reason for the success of the Quacky Family toy can be attributed to one of 16 hopefuls – a pair of darling ducks who resembled mother and father figures. Indeed, these early prototypes would expand to include the several duck-themed toys produced by the Fisher Price Toy Company, including the Quacky Family, Gabby Goofies and the Musical Duck Cart.
The success of the Quacky Family toy can also be attributed to the introduction of a now very famous character – Donald Duck. First introduced in 1931 in the children’s story book, The Adventures of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck gained popularity very quickly. His official debut, however, was in 1934’s The Wise Little Hen, merely six years before the Quacky Family entered toy store shelves. Fisher Price’s relationship with Donald Duck and other related characters from Walt Disney Studios is also unique as Fisher Price Toy Company was the first ever toy maker licensed to manufacture toys that were based on Disney’s cartoon characters.
It seems quite fitting to have an array of duck toys sitting in the South Frontenac Museum. While the blue, red and yellow ducks do not depict accurate representations of the ducks in this region, their presence nonetheless reflects one of the many species who make their home in the South Frontenac area. Ducks such as the Mallard, Wood duck, and the American Black Duck are real-life examples of the Quacky Family local the region.
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