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 Promo and Specialty Gliders

Article by
Dave Pecota

Wood Gliders in Advertising

Soon after wood gliders began zooming through the skies, savvy marketing folks realized these toys could be used very effectively for advertising and promotional purposes.  Just as today, it’s all about brand recognition and brand loyalty.

Wood gliders not only have a universal appeal to kids as playthings … but also have a strong appeal to marketers as advertising tools aimed at parents wanting to keep their kids happy and entertained.  Interestingly, many of the pre-war gliders I’ve found have some sort of “sponsor” printing on them.  Perhaps during the pre-war years of widespread economic strife, toy manufacturers relied heavily on making promotional items of this type to keep employees busy and production lines open.  If this “targeted advertising” put countless more gliders into the eager hands of youngsters, I’m good with that.   (Note – some of the promo glider photos will be presented without comment.)

This section is also dedicated to specialty items that don’t quite fit into the other glider categories.  (You’ll never know what might show up here!) 

“Super Sonic X-8” (ca 1940’s) – This large and impressive catapult glider was made by the Superior Products Co of Wichita (KS) for the Sears Oil Co in the New York area.  It has a beautifully crafted airfoil wing and wonderfully vibrant graphics.  My research has not uncovered any details about the company as a model airplane or toy manufacturer.

 

Mead Gliders “Blow Me Down” ice yacht (ca 1930’s) – And now, a different type of glider … an ice yacht made to catch the wind and “glide” over the ice (or flat ground).  I included this nicely constructed toy because it is the only “toy glider” in my collection that was made by a company that actually manufactured “real” gliders as well.   The ice yacht features wooden wheels inside the thin, silver metal fenders, and a “seating area” made of a very heavy metal casting.  The casting undoubtedly provided ballast to keep the yacht stable while gliding in brisk winds.  The toy came in a rather plain white box printed with the company name and a few brief assembly instructions.

Mead Gliders of Chicago (IL) produced ice yachts and kayaks as early as 1927, and manufactured glider kits by 1931.  A small photo of a full-sized glider made from a Mead Gliders kit is included here.  However in my research, I found no mention of Mead making toys of any sort, or evidence that the company remained in the glider business after WW2.            

Abbo-Craft “Jet-O-Plane” set (ca 1940’s) – This small boxed set was probably made immediately after WW2 … when metal supplies were readily available again.  The set included two metal (tin) airplanes with balsa wings and a nicely made metal “gun” for launching the planes.  The set came with two interchangeable rubber “points” for each airplane … a narrow “flight point” for outdoor flying and a suction cup “target point” for indoor play.  A spare wing was also included.  Although not entirely made of wood, I found the art deco look of the gliders to be quite appealing.