Marx Lane

An Inventory of Marx Playset Figures and Accessories
Manufactured from 1951 to 1979

 
Page 11 - A Virtual Wonderland of Marx
Wild West Playsets
at Your Fingertips
Contents of this web site may not be reproduced or duplicated for use on the Internet or for commercial purposes without permission by Eric Johns.



Table of Contents
  Click on section to move to it.
Introduction Custer's Last Stand
Large Scale Sets Rin Tin Tin Western Ranch
The Alamo Daniel Boone Lone Ranger Roy Rogers Western Towns
Alaska Fort Apache
Small Scale Sets Wyatt Earp (see Western Towns)
Comanche Pass Fort Dearborn The Rifleman Train Sets Zorro
Canadian Sets
Gunsmoke
Wagon Train Sorry but it's not...
Cowboys and Indians Johnny Ringo Wells Fargo Re-issue Boxes
     
Back to Wild West Table of Contents
Back to Main Table of Contents

This page is an attempt to show two things 1) the wide variety of boxes that Marx used for its wild west playsets and 2) a listing of wild west playsets made by the Louis Marx Co.

To the best of my efforts, this page provides a complete list of those playsets.  I am sure there are errors, but I have done my best and will make corrections as I can.  I expect that several will be made.  As is, the list has been compiled based on information from many people and publications.  The primary publications that I have studied to document this information include
  1. Issues of Plastic Figure and Playset Collector magazine (PFPC),
  2. A listing of Marx playsets published in a special edition of PFPC (PFPC SE),
  3. Issues of Playset Magazine (PM), and
  4. The book Marx Western Playsets by Horowitz (Horowitz).
As I had already noted, I am sure that as presented at this time, this list is not fully accurate.  Similarly, as can be seen, I am missing photos of several playset boxes.  I welcome additional information on the playsets and photos of boxes that are not shown.

I unfortunately own few Marx playset boxes, so most photos shown here have been purloined.  This is a fancy way of saying that they have been taken from other Internet sites.  When I began copying such photos, it was for my own enjoyment, and I did not forsee creating this web page.  I do not recall exactly where I obtained many of them.  However, I have not -- and I stress this -- I have not, without permission, taken any photos from anyone's personal web site that displays his/her collection or offers them for sale.  I make no profit by displaying the photos here and do so only in an attempt to spread the enjoyment of this hobby.  If you recognize any photos as your own and I failed to request your permission, feel free to instruct me to remove them or to add a credit identifying the photo as yours.  I will be happy to do so.

In many instances, I have added a few brief comments on the playsets.  I plan to do a little more of this in the future.  There are no plans, however, to add playset content lists to this page!  I repeat, none!  (My one exception is the miniature Western Town Play Set shown below.)

Please note that I have made no attempt to correctly size photos of the play set boxes.  The fact that one play set box appears smaller than another in the photos below does not indicate that it is actually smaller.  With very few exceptions, I do not have information on box sizes.


THE ALAMO

Marx produced three distinct versions of Alamo playsets.  The first sets -- based on the Disney movie of the Alamo starring Fess Parker -- were titled Walt Disney's Davy Crockett at the Alamo and were issued by Marx in 1955.  They sold well in 1955 and 1956, but then faded quickly as kids moved on to other movie and television heroes.  The Alamo theme was revived in 1960 with The Alamo Play Set, just as John Wayne's Alamo epic movie was released.  This time the company did not directly tie the playsets to the movie and did not include a character figure of John Wayne, as it had Fess Parker.  The third and final version -- The Battle of the Alamo -- was produced in 1972 after the company had been sold to Quaker Oats.  As one of the company's all-time, best-selling playsets, it was one of four "Heritage" playsets which Quaker Oats re-created in an attempt to renew interest in playsets.
  

Name:  Walt Disney's Davy Crockett at the Alamo
Number:  3530
Year first issued:  1955




Photo Courtesy of the late Rob Colwell.

Comments
This first Alamo play set included 45mm Indians as the Alamo attackers instead of Mexican soldiers.  Many collectors believe that this was because Marx did not have the Mexican soldier molds ready by the time that the first playsets had been promised to retailers.  That explanation has been challenged by some, but no other reasonable explanation has been provided.  The new 54mm Alamo defenders were also not included, and 45mm frontiersmen that had been used in Fort Dearborn took their place. 
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 11, PM 34, Horowitz

Name:  Walt Disney's Davy Crockett at the Alamo
Number:  3539
Year first issued:  1955
Comments

Source(s)
PFPC SE and 11, PM 34, Horowitz

Name:  Walt Disney's Davy Crockett at the Alamo
Number:  3540
Year first issued:  1955
Comments

Source(s)
PFPC SE and 11, PM 34, Horowitz

Name:  Walt Disney's Davy Crockett at the Alamo
Number:  3534
Year first issued:  1955
Comments
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 11, PM 34, Horowitz

Name:  Walt Disney's Davy Crockett at the Alamo
Number:  3544
Year first issued:  1955
Comments
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 11, PM 34
Recent Price Lines I Have Noticed
$266 June 2011 Seems like a good deal for the buyer

Name:  Walt Disney's Davy Crockett at the Alamo
Number:  3545 (?)
Year first issued:  1960
Comments
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 15

Name:  The Alamo Play Set
Number:  3543
Year first issued:  1960
Comments
Collectors call this playset the John Wayne Alamo, because it was issued to take advantage of the release of the John Wayne Alamo movie in 1960.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 11, PM 15, Horowitz
Recent Price Lines I Have Noticed
$350 June 2011 Asking price by vendor at Marx Convention.

Photo is not available at this time.  Photo is included in PM 11.  Box appears the same as for #3543, but has not Series 2000 designation.Name:  The Alamo Play Set
Number:  3546
Year first issued:  1960
Comments
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 11, PM 15, Horowitz

Name:  Battle of the Alamo
Number:  Marx No. 3548, Sears No. 59091C
Year first issued:  1972
Comments
In an effort to renew interest in playsets soon after it purchased the Louis Marx Co., Quaker Oats released four "Heritage" sets that were sold only by Sears Roebuck.  The Battle of the Alamo was one.  This last Alamo playset was the only one to include both types of Mexican soldiers made by Marx, the Shako hats that were included in the original Alamo sets and those that wore sombreros that were made for Zorro playsets.
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 15 and 40, Horowitz


ALASKA

Marx produced at least four Alaska playsets, but I can only verify that one was related to the American wild west era.  

Other Marx sets featuring Alaska included the Arctic Explorer Play Set (1958), International Geophysical Year Arctic Satellite Base (1959), and D. E. W. Defense Line Arctic Satellite Base (1959).  These sets did not include the figures from the miners and trappers group or the revised Wells Fargo town front, which were in Alaska Play Set #3708 listed below.

Name:  Alaska Play Set
Number:  3708
Year first issued:  1959
Comments
The Alaska Play Set -- which was named Alaska Frontier Play Set before final production -- included the Marx 54mm trappers and miners sets, along with Eskimo and Arctic explorer figures.  It also included what was previously a Wells Fargo town front, but with a revised litho showing the Golden Nugget, a Hardware Store, and the Alaska Trading Company.  The set was released the same year that Alaska became the 49th state and according to PFPC Issue 4 "was meant to be a commemorative edition to the Gold Rush era."  Toy Soldiers and Collectibles magazine points out that "What makes the Alaska set unique is the combination of both a civilian and military theme (cowboys, if you will).  Young boys could enter two worlds at once.  A world of Eskimos, polar bears, and igloos, and another world of trappers, miners, frontiersmen, and cowboys with a western town."
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 4, PM 16, Toy Soldiers and Collectibles magazine Issue 1
Recent Price Lines I Have Noticed
$910 April 2011 Ebay

CANDADIAN PLAY SETS


Name:  Fort Apache
Number:  3632-C
Year first issued:  1959 (?)
Comments
Based on the few sets I have seen for sale, this one included unique light blue 60mm Cavalrymen, red brown and yellow 60mm Indians, a firing silver cannon, a crooked-horseshoe cabin, two of the L-shaped stockade walls, and a Canadian flag.
Source(s)
PFPC 55

Name:  Fort Apache
Number:  3634-C
Year first issued:  1958






Photo courtesy of David Schafer.
Comments
Bill Schafer discusses this playset in Playset Magazine Issue 14.
Source(s)
PM 14

Photo is not available at this time.Name:  Fort Apache
Number:  3681-C
Year first issued:  1967 (?)
Comments
Source(s)
PM 20

Name:  Early Canadiana Frontier Set
Number:  4610
Year first issued:  1972
Comments
Source(s)
PFPC 5, 29, and 55
Recent Price Lines I have noticed
$510 November 2011 Ebay
 
COMANCHE PASS (and AMBUSH AT FALLING ROCK)

For such an incredible playset (in my opinion) produced so late in the Marx era, I have not been able to nail down exactly what year this set was first released.  Drawing from three different sources, I have three different production years -- 1972, 1974, and 1975.  Perhaps it was produced for several years.

Name:  Comanche Pass Play Set
Number:  3416
Year first issued:  1974
Comments
The most prominent feature of the set, of course, is the "pass" which is made up of five pieces plus a boulder for the Indians to push off on the unsuspecting cavalry below.  Marx -- sold by Louis Marx to Quaker Oats two years earlier -- went a little wild in its figure colors in this set, including the only known pea green set of 54mm pioneers and flesh-colored 54mm Indians, but they at least kept the cavalry to a medium blue.  The set also included a supply wagon (driven by a lime green wagon driver with whip) and a nice 32-inch by 36-inch vinyl playmat.

According to an article by Tim Geppert in PFPC Issue 34, the mountain piece was also included in Marx Guns of Navarone, Iwo Jima, and some Prehistoric playsets.  Tim stated that other collectors have told him the mountain was also in a Marx wild west playset called Ambush at Falling Rock (see below), but that he had never seen such a set.  Neither have I.

The PFPC article states that Comanche Pass was sold in 1972.  However, documentation from Marx in Horowitz' book "Marx Western Playsets" shows a date of 1974 and states that it was initially released after Louis Marx sold the company to Quaker Oats.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 34, Horowitz

Name:  Ambush at Falling Rock
Number:  3423
Year first issued:  1975








Photo courtesy of Paul Cuomo.
Comments
This playset is so hard to find that for several years collectors could not decide whether it existed or not.  However, Jay Horowitz lists it in his book "Marx Western Playsets, The Authorized Guide," and I have corresponded with several people who own it (note photo of box above).  It was in the 1975 Sears Catalog.  Horowitz states that it is similar to Comanche Pass, but with fewer pieces.  
Source(s)
PFPC 34, Horowitz, above box photo from Paul Cuomo



COWBOYS AND INDIANS
 
The playsets in this section are not related, except that they often contain the same figures and accessories.  Each includes the usual line of suspects, just a different mixture, depending upon the name of the set.  Cattle Drive has lots of cattle, Indian Warfare has lots of Indians, etc., etc.  Each is unique and generic, with no character figures, but each relates to cowboys, Indians, and the business of the Wild West.  To the best of my knowledge, except for perhaps the early Cowboy and Indian Camp, each of these playsets was issued in only one version.

The final two sets offered little more than a few figures thrown together, a sad reminiscence of the miniature worlds which Marx playsets provided for so many years.
This photo is not available at this time.Name:  Cowboy and Indian Camp
Number:  3949
Year first issued:  1953
Comments
Based on an article in Playset Magazine Issue 2, this set is almost identical to version #3950 that follows.  The only difference is the type of a few of the terrain pieces such as trees and rocks.  Perhaps its box cover was also the same.
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 2, Horowitz

Name:  Cowboy and Indian Camp
Number:  3950
Year first issued:  1953
Comments
This is one of the few playsets that came with Marx' 45mm cowboys.  It also had the 45mm Indians from Fort Dearborn, the rarely seen 60mm covered wagon, and three 60mm teepees.  The set and the previous set #3949 were not sold by Sears or Wards, but rather could be found at five-and-ten-cent stores such as Kresge.

Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 2, Horowitz

Name:  Indian Warfare Set
Number:  4778
Year first issued:  1957






Photo courtesy of Michael Bush, Ebay newstuff
Comments
      The Indian Warfare Set has an interesting combination of pieces at a time that Marx was in the process of converting its playsets from 60mm scale to the smaller 54mm scale.  The set has no items that are not in other playsets and is rarely seen today.
     It was one of the first sets to include Marx' 54mm pioneers (first used in Alamo playsets), 54mm Indians, and 54mm horses (including two red-brown lying-down horses).  It also included the downsized log cabin with smokestack, as well as the new 54mm teepee, Indian small accessory sprue, 3-piece Indian accessory set, and 12 pieces of the small brown farm-style board fence.   However, despite all the 54mm scale items, it was one of the few sets to have two 60mm covered wagons -- converted blue buckboards -- pulled by 60mm draft horses with seperate harness.  According to PFPC Issue 27, one wagon was dark brown and the other blue, both with light tan tops.  One horse was red-brown; the other gray.

     PFPC purports that "The theme (of the set) was intended to represent a small homestead on the prairie with a nearby Indian encampment."  Contents are surprisingly similar to Wagon Train playsets produced in 1958 and early 1959.  
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 27, PM 20, Horowitz

Name:  Cowboy and Indian Set
Number:  2660
Year first issued:  1958








Photo courtesy of David Schafer.
Comments
Described in PFPC Issue 66, the set came in a 22-inch by 15-inch by 8-inch box with the down-sized log cabin already assembled.  It also includes a random two hard plastic figures from the Famous Americans group.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 66, Horowitz

Name:  Cattle Drive Play Set
Number:  3983
Year first issued:  1972
Comments
Cattle Drive included a whopping 25 of the 54mm long horn steers in black, red brown, and beige.  It also had two tin litho buildings, the Wells Fargo town front and the Rifleman cabin, both with the new "satin" finish on the exterior, giving them a "dull, more natural appearance," according to PFPC Issue 38.  The set is a bit hard to find today.

Source(s)
PFPC SE and 38, Horowitz

Name:  Cowboys 50-Piece Playset
Number:  2257
Year first issued:  1976
Comments
In the late 1970s, the company (already sold by Louis Marx) produced a series of small piece-count playsets called
"storage box" sets.  Clearly in hope of re-energizing a flagging playset market, these storage boxes were designed to provide a more convenient place to quickly clean up and store playsets with many fewer figures and accessories than came in sets during the hey-days of playsets in the 1950s and 1960s.  The sets had generic names, used existing 54mm figure molds, and had no centerpiece, such as a tin litho building or plastic fort.  The figures were made in a waxy-looking plastic that are looked down on by many of the "serious" collectors today.  I am not sure how popular these sets were back in the 1970s, but they were not able to stop the company from its continuing slide into bankruptcy.

Contents of each set were different, but some items were included in all three sets.  These included wagons, butterscotch cowboys (from the 54mm cowboy and the 54mm miner and trapper group), 54mm horses, 54mm steers, a wagon driver with whip, and a playmat.  Even these, however, were included in varying numbers.  For example, the first two playsets seem to have included nine steers, but the third set had only two.  However, that final set included Indians, while the first two sets had none, as well as a covered wagon, when the first two just had buckboards.

The first Wild West storage box set was the Cowboys 50-Piece Playset.  Actually, the Marx Catalog provided to retailers in 1976 (shared with me by veteran collector and seller Mark Hegeman) says the set included more than 50 pieces.  However, the catalog photo of the set -- also shown in Jay Horowitz' book Marx Western Playsets -- displays fewer than 50 pieces.  The photo shows:

5 54mm cowboys, including two mounted (in butterscotch color)
1 54mm driver with whip (either cream or pea green, hard to tell in the photo)
2 54mm horses (one running, one stopping)
2 54mm harness horses
9 54mm steers
1 54mm buckboard in gray (probably included wagon accessories, but none shown)
4 split log fence pieces
1 stand of trees (to be separated into two pieces)
three small accessories (axe in stump, anvil on stump, hitching post)
plastic play mat
Source(s)s
PFPC SE, Horowitz (see color photo 11), Marx 1976 Catalog

Name:  Red River Gang Playset
Number: 4104
Year first issued:  1977
Comments     
The Red River Gang Playset -- using the same box cover as the Cowboys set -- was the company's 1977 Wild West storage box set, very similar to its Cowboys predecessor.  The photo in Marx' 1977 Catalog for its retailers shows 40 pieces, though this goes up when counting pieces that went together to make one full piece.  For example, the wagon wheels and the hitch would make the wagon six pieces, and the 4-piece well would make four pieces.  The photo shows 12 54mm cowboys, 1 wagon driver with whip, 9 steers, 2 horses, 2 harness horses, 5 split log fence sections, a gray buckboard with accessories, six ranch accessories (axe in stump, anvil on stump, forge, axe sharpener, well with bucket, log pile), and playmat.  The playmat appears to be similar, but not identical, to the one in the Cowboys Playset.

Jay Horowitz includes copies of original Marx bills of material labeled Red River Gang Playset in his book Marx Western Playsets.  These show a set that includes 16 54mm cowboys, 14 54mm Indians, a covered wagon with driver and accessories, two horses for riders, an unstated number of steers, a teepee, and a playmat.  However, these bills of material are dated February 1978, and the contents are much more similar to catalog photos and a back-of-the-box contents list of the Red River (no Gang) Playset (see below).  At the same time, Horowitz' one-paragraph write-up on the Red River Gang Playset refers to a photo of it on another page, but the photo's caption identifies it as the Red River (no Gang) Playset (see below).  So my guess (and that is all it is) would be that these bills of material were preliminary for the Red River (no Gang) set, with the name of the set being changed for some unknown reason by that time the set was released in 1978.

Source(s)
PFPC SE, Horowitz, Marx 1977 Catalog

Name:  Red River Playset
Number: 4104
Year first issued:  1978 (also sold in 1979)



















Photo of box front courtesy of Lisa Dwyer.  Photo of playset layout courtesy of Mark Hegeman.
Comments     
Antiques seller Lisa Dwyer recently surprised me with the photo above of the Red River Playset box, a playset that I had not realized existed.  It is the third and final Wild West storage box set and oddly uses the same playset number as the Red River Gang Playset.
 Released a year later than the "Gang" set, Indians were more prominent on its box front than cowboys, and Red River is the only of the three Wild West storage box sets to have Indians.  Information on this set is all but non-existent in reference books and magazines I have, and little more can be found on the two previous sets, which are clearly related to this one.  However, veteran collectors/sellers Mike Handley and Mark Hegeman have assured me that all three exist.  Mike reported that he has owned the set and that his included a wagon top in an especially nice caramel color and Indians in orange.  Mark has been able to provide detailed information and photos on this set (and the previous two sets) from very-hard-to-find Marx catalogs that the company provided to retailers who sold Marx products (see layout photo above).   Mark also has a set, which has a light gray wagon with a beige top, a pea green wagon driver (as seen in the layout photo), and a few other variations from the photo and contents list on the box.

Lisa reports that, according to information on the back of the box, the Red River Playset included 30 cowboys and Indians, five horses, two steers, a covered wagon, and three fence sections.
 This pretty well jives with the February 1978 bills of material in Horowitz' Marx Western Playsets book (see comments on Red River Gang Playset above).  The set also had a teepee made out of cardboard (!) and a playmat, which appears to be the same one used in the "Gang" set.  I  have seen no suggestion that the set had any of the usual ranch accessories, other than the wagon accessories and the Indian totem pole (which was made in the same mold as the Indians).

Based on all that, I will venture to provide a relatively accurate contents list as follows:

16 figures from the 54mm cowboy group and 54mm miner and trapper group (in buttscotch color)
1 wagon driver with whip (perhaps in pea green, as the previous two sets)
14 54mm Indians (butterscotch color in the photo of the 1978 version, orange in 1979)
2 54mm horses (stopping and/or running)
1 54mm Indian horse (running)
2 54mm harness horses for wagon
2 54mm steers
1 covered wagon (with wagon accessories)
4 split log fence sections
1 cardboard teepee
1 totem pole
1 playmat (same as the Red River Gang Playset)

As far as the name change, perhaps it was simply an attempt to sell more playsets by using a different name, or perhaps Marx ran into problems with another company which claimed the use of the term "Red River Gang."  Or perhaps Marx officials felt the term "gang" was no longer applicable when Indians joined the set.  Of note, can anyone explain the picutre on this box?  The Indians seem to have pitched their teepee near to the cowboys' cattle corral, and the cowboys are now using a covered wagon to attack the Indians.  A rather dramatic scene, but it seems a bit odd to me!?!

Source(s)
PM 11 (page 23, photo of box only), Horowitz (see color photo 10), Marx 1978 and 1979 Catalogs



Custer's Last Stand

It seems rather strange to me that Marx Custer playsets did not sell better.  The company made a total of four:  two Custer's Last Stand sets in 1957, one version in 1963, and a Battle of Little Big Horn set in 1972.  Strangely, the Marx 54mm 7th Cavalry figures and Custer character figure came only in the last set, because they were introduced too late for the other sets.

Name:  Custer's Last Stand
Number:  4779
Year first issued:  1957







Photo courtesy of Steve Trapani.
Comments
This set came with existing 54mm Alamo frontiersmen and Indians, along with the 60mm poses of Custer and Sitting Bull on small pedastals.  
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PFPC 14, PM 3, and Horowitz

Photo is not available at this time.Name:  Custer's Last Stand
Number:  4780
Year first issued:  1957
Comments
Similar to the previous #4779 set, this one has a few more fence pieces and horses.
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 3, and Horowitz.

Name:  Custer's Last Stand
Number:  4670 (Sears No. 6014)
Year first issued:  1963





Photo courtesy of David Schafer.
Comments
This set was apparently the biggest of the Custer sets and was sold by Sears Roebuck, reportedly in a standard Sears All State box.  It was one of the last Marx sets to include 45mm figures (10 frontiersmen from Fort Dearborn) and 32 figures previously issued as Civil War soldiers.  These included figures which had previously been Confederate troops, but now in Union blue.   Collectors today refer to these figures as "Reverse Confederates."  Indians included 45 54mm figures, so that when adding in a falling cavalry horse and rider and two wagon drivers, the manpower strength is the same on both sides, much different than in the actual battle.  This set also includes four wagons, one with an ambulance top.  It did not, however, have a figure identified as Custer.
Source(s)
PFPC 14 and SE, PM 3, and Horowitz

Name:  Battle of Little Big Horn
Number:  4679
Year first issued:  1972
Comments
This was the only Marx Custer set with the 54mm Custer character figure and 7th cavalry figures, which were not introduced by Marx until 1968.  Otherwise, the contents were similar to #4779 and #4780, lacking such special items as falling horse and rider, pack horses, and reverse Confederates that were included in #6014.  However, this one does include four wagons, including a medical wagon.  PM says Little Big Horn  "...ranks as an elusive and special set."  It was sold by J. C. Penney.
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 3, and Horowitz



DANIEL BOONE

     See also Daniel Boone play set in Large Scale Section.     

These three playsets were sold in small boxes with limited contents at prices of $1.98 or less, apparently only at dimestores and small toy shops.  According to PFPC Issue 17, they included new Booneborough pioneer figures specifically designed for them, but contents were inconsistent and sometimes included as few as two of the new figures, with others replaced by the existing 54mm pioneers.

Name:  Daniel Boone Wilderness Scout Play Set
Number:  0631
Year first issued:  1964
Comments
The smallest of the three versions, this set included stockade gates and walls that were shorter than the Fort Apache versions and had previously appeared in Marx jungle playsets.  The stockade is commonly called the Marx wilderness fort by collectors today.

Source(s)
PFPC SE and 17,  Horowitz

Name:  Daniel Boone Wilderness Scout Play Set
Number:  2640
Year first issued:  1964
Comments
The largest of the three versions, this set included the hard plastic, stand-alone blockhouse (which also was in Marx Revolutionary War sets) with the name "Boonesborough" stamped on it in yellow letters.  It also included stockade gates and walls that were shorter than the Fort Apache versions and had previously appeared in Marx jungle playsets.
 The stockade is commonly called the Marx wilderness fort by collectors today. 
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 17, Horowitz

Name:  Daniel Boone Wilderness Scout Play Set
Number:  0670
Year first issued:  1965
Comments
This version included the hard plastic, stand-alone blockhouse (which also was in Marx Revolutionary War sets) with the name "Boonesborough" stamped on it in yellow letters.  I have alternative documentation that shows the number for this set should be #0760.  I have gone with #0670, but welcome correction if appropriate.
Source(s)
PFPC 17, Horowitz



FORT APACHE
 
Fort Apache was the mainstay of Marx playsets.  
The company sold more Fort Apaches than any other playset and made more versions of it than any other playset.  It was produced from 1951 right up to the company's bankruptcy.  Drawing its name from Fort Apache in southern Arizona and from the late 1940s movie Fort Apache, it went through the entire transformation of Marx playsets, starting with 45mm figures, soon switching to new 60mm scale, and again changing to 54mm figures in 1956 and 1957.

     See also Rin Tin Tin at Fort Apache playsets in the Rin Tin Tin Section and Fort Apache in the Canadian Playsets Section.

Name:  Fort Apache Stockade
Number:  3609
Year first issued:  1951









Photo courtesy of Rob Colwell, Ebay marxplayer.

Comments
As seen in the following photos, this same box cover was used for several of the first Fort Apache playsets.  This perhaps Marx' first Fort Apache set (#3606 and #3607 are included in factory records, but no such sets are known to collectors today) was the only Fort Apache to use the 45mm figures from the earlier Fort Dearborn playsets.  
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 12

Name:  Fort Apache Stockade
Number:  3612
Year first issued:  1953
Comments
This set introduced 60mm pioneers, 60mm stockade and camp Indians, and Marx' shell-shooting cannons.
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 12

Photo is not available at this time.Name:  Fort Apache Stockade
Number:  3610
Year first issued:  1954
Comments
The 60mm skinny Indians first appeared in this playset.  Playset Magazine Issue 12 states that this playset number was apparently reserved for Fort Apache earlier, but not used until 1954.
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 12

Photo is not available at this time.Name:  Fort Apache Stockade
Number:  3614
Year first issued:  1954
Comments
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 12

Name:  Fort Apache Stockade
Number:  3615
Year first issued:  1955
Comments
This set was a doozy!  It came with new 60mm Cavalrymen and the Famous American pedastal group (see Page 2) that had earlier been sold individually in dimestores (Davy Crockett was not included in the set).  It also had Stockade and Skinny Indians and the new Marx cavalry saddles for 60mm horses.  With the addition of the Famous Americans, the set dropped the buckboard, cabin furniture, trees, and rocks.
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 12

Name:  Fort Apache Stockade
Number:  3616 (with 60mm figures)
Year first issued:  1955







Photo courtesy of Bob Szukala.



Name:  Fort Apache Stockade
Number:  3616 (with 54mm figures)
Year first issued:  1956 or 1957
Comments
I have heard conflicting stories about the second box above.  According to Rick Eber the top box above was for the first version of Fort Apache 3616, which included 60mm figures.
As Marx downscaled its figures from 60mm to 54mm in 1956 and 1957, the second 3616 included 54mm Alamo frontiersmen and 54mm Indians and -- according to Rick -- was also numbered 3616.  He also pointed out that the second box was the only set to include the 54mm frontiersmen in metallic blue.  Another collector has confirmed that the set included the metallic blue pioneers, as well as tan and silver ones.  The Happi-Time designation means that the set was sold by Sears Roebuck. 
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 12, Horowitz

Photo is not available at this time.Name:  Fort Apache Stockade
Number:  3675
Year first issued:  1957






Photo courtesy of Jim McGough.
Comments
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 14, Horowitz

Name:  Fort Apache Stockade
Number:  3660
Year first issued:  1957
Comments
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 14, Horowitz

Name:  Fort Apache Set
Number:  3647
Year first issued:  1957
 


Comments
According to Playset Magazine, this set included both 45mm Fort Dearborn pioneers and 54mm Alamo frontiersmen.  For some reason, it also did not include a cannon.
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 41 p. 11

Name:  Fort Apache Set
Number:  3649
Year first issued:  1958





Photo courtesy of Allan Ford.
Comments
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 14

Name:  Fort Apache Stockade
Number:  3678
Year first issued:  1958
Comments
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 14, Horowitz

Name:  Fort Apache Set
Number:  3680
Year first issued:  1959
Comments
This set was an inexpensive playset and one of the most popular Fort Apache sets.
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 14 and 16

Name:  Fort Apache Stockade
Number:  3682
Year first issued:  1959







Photo courtesy of David Schafer.
Comments
Despite the picture on the cover of the box, this set introduced the block house over the gate.  In this set, the gate had the name Fort Apache heat stamped onto it in yellow.

Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 14

Name:  Happi-Time Fort Apache
Number:  5915
Year first issued:  1961

Photos courtesy of Suzanne Greco


Comments
The Happi-Time designation means that the set was sold by Sears Roebuck.
Source(s)
PM 16

Name:  Happi-Time Fort Apache
Number:  5962
Year first issued:  1962
Comments
The Happi-Time designation means that the set was sold by Sears Roebuck.
Source(s)
PM 16

Name:  Fort Apache Play Set
Number:  3681
Year first issued:  1964
Comments
This set was a successor to #3680 as a popular, inexpensive set.  Canada had its own #3681 with a Canadian flag and instruction sheets in both English and French.
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 16 and 20

Name:  Giant Fort Apache
Number:  6063
Year first issued:  1964
Comments
This large playset was sold by Sears Roebuck.
Source(s)
PM 16.

Photo is not available at this time.Name:  Fort Apache
Number:  3684
Year first issued:  1964
Comments
This large playset was sold by Montgomery Ward.
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 16.

Name:  Carry-All Action Fort Apache Play Set
Number:  4685 and 4686
Year first issued:  1968
Comments
The Carry-All play set was sold in two versions, one with tin litho buildings inside and one with thin painted plastic buildings (as shown on the top of the metal playset box for both versions).
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 20, Horowitz.

Name:  Fort Apache Play Set
Number:  3686
Year first issued:  1968








Photo courtesy of David Schafer.
Comments
This playset was sold by Sears Roebuck.
Source(s)
PM 20.

Name:  Fort Apache Heritage Play Set
Number:  59093-C
Year first issued:  1972
Comments
In an effort to renew interest in playsets soon after it purchased the Louis Marx Co., Quaker Oats released four "Heritage" sets that were sold only by Sears Roebuck.  This Fort Apache set was one.
Source(s)
PM 20 and 40

Name:  Fort Apache Play Set
Number:  4202
Year first issued:  1977
Comments
This final official version of the Marx Fort Apache play set included uniquely colored sets of both 54mm cavalry and Indians.  The cavalry were a deep blue that has come to be known as royal blue by collectors, and the Indians were in a bright orange.  They were very colorful, but neither color is popular among collectors today.
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 20, Horowitz



FORT DEARBORN

The first wild west playset made by Marx, Fort Dearborn, was first sold in 1952 according to Horowitz' book, "The Authorized Guide to Marx Wild West Playsets," but I have seen several other references date it from 1951.  Although the 45mm scale cowboy and Indian figures created for Fort Dearborn (see Page 1 of the Wild West Section) appeared in several other play sets throughout Marx' existence, for all intensive purposes, the Fort Dearborn play set ceased to exist after 1957.  Perhaps in an effort to interest a second generation of children in playsets, Marx produced the fort one last time in 1972.

Name:  Fort Dearborn
Number:  3509
Year first issued:  1952












Photos courtesy of Allan Ford



Comments
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 54, PM 21 and 16

Name:  Fort Dearborn
Number:  3510
Year first issued:  1952





Photo courtesy of Jim McGough.
Comments
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 54, PM 21
Recent Price Lines I Have Noticed
$600 April 2011 Never played with mint, crisp clean box, from Marx warehouse sale, sold by veteran collector Jim McGough. This was a good deal for the buyer!

Photo is not available.Name:  Fort Dearborn
Number:  3504
Year first issued:  1953
Comments
PFPC 54 states that this playset was never produced, but PM 21 disagrees.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 54, PM 21

Name:  Fort Dearborn
Number:  3514
Year first issued:  1953
Comments
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 54, PM 21

Photo is not available.Name:  Fort Dearborn
Number:  2704
Year first issued:  1954
Comments
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 54, PM 21

Photo is not available.Name:  Fort Dearborn
Number:  2705
Year first issued:  1957
Comments
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 21, Horowitz

Name:  Fort Dearborn
Number:  3688
Year first issued:  1972
Comments
Produced after Louis Marx & Co. was sold to Quaker Oats, this Fort Dearborn playset was the only version that had Fort Apache-style plastic gate and walls.  It included 54mm cavalrymen and Indians and a "satin finish" tin litho Cavalry supply building with plastic cupola and porch.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 54, PM 21, Horowitz



GUNSMOKE

The Gunsmoke Dodge City playset was based on the popular television program Gunsmoke starring James Arness, who portrayed Marshal Matt Dillon.  Today, Gunsmoke is one of the most popular playsets among Marx collectors. 
Initially priced at $5.66, according to PFPC Issue 8, the set will set you back several thousand dollars today; a set of the character figures in good shape alone can cost more than $1,000. 

Name:  Gunsmoke Dodge City
Number:  4268
Year first issued:  1960
Comments
Besides the four character figures -- Matt Dillon, Kitty, Chester, and Doc -- the set introduced the hard plastic terrain pieces of a mine, sluice stream, and related accessories.  The set also includes several other premium items:  the Wells Fargo town front, the Rifleman cabin with a unique brown roof and chimney, a red-brown open wagon pulled by oxen, and the rarely seen stagecoach.  

Source(s)
PFPC SE and 8, PM 19 and 16, Horowitz
Recent Price Lines I have noticed
$5,300 January 2012 Ebay near mint



JOHNNY RINGO

Based on the short-lived Johnny Ringo television program, Johnny Ringo Western Frontier Play Set is now one of Marx' rarest sets and once sold for almost $10,000...to television's Ringo himself.  In good shape, the 54mm figure of Johnny Ringo  -- which was available only in this one playset -- will cost you $1,000 or more.  In bad shape, it will go for only a few hundred.  Considering the reputation of the real Johnny Ringo, all this seems a bit odd (as well as the representation of him on television)!
 
Name:  Johnny Ringo Western Frontier Play Set
Number:  4784
Year first issued:  1960








Photo courtesy of David Schafer.
Comments
The Johnny Ringo playset came out the same year as the Gunsmoke set, but without the town front.  It did, however, include several items missing from Gunsmoke.  Most importantly to collectors today, it had the Johnny Ringo figure, which now is the most expensive wild west figure that Marx produced.  And it had
a set of 54mm Indians for the cowpokes to do battle with, which Gunsmoke did not have.  The set also included a cabin with a unique cream-colored roof and chimney, three wagons (one in an unusual bright red), and a small sign pointing the way to Velardi, Ringo's town in the television program.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 8, PM 19 and 16, Horowitz
Recent Price Lines I Have Noticed
$452 June 2011 Box only - no parts



LARGE SCALE PLAYSETS

This section contains "playsets" that are made up of 5- and 6-inch scale figures and are centered around a stagecoach or wagon.  They include no buildings or terrain pieces and few accessories.  By strict definition, they are not true playsets and most collectors have little interest in them or knowledge about them.  However, they are not action figures, which are generally at least 11 inches tall and come with an assortment of outfits, similar to dolls.  Therefore, I am including them here.

I do not believe there has ever been a large amount of interest in these large scale sets, either by kids back in the 1950s and 1960s or by collectors today.  I doubt that more than a handful of collectors -- if any -- have a good knowledge of what large scale playsets Marx produced.

I am surprised at how many different large scale sets I have been able to identify.  The information below comes from a variety of publications on toy soldiers and Marx playsets.  My primary sources have been PFPC Issues 5, 19, 30, and Special Collectors' Edition; Playset Magazine Issue 16 and 43; and Jay Horowitz' book Marx Western Playsets, p. 183.

Name:  Wells Fargo Concord Stagecoach Model Kit
Number:  unknown
Year first issued:  unknown
Comments
This kit contains 5-inch figures (driver, shot gun rider, holdup man, and four passengers), four horses, whip, and rifle for shot gun rider.  Other than the human figures, the kit is in more than 250 pieces that must be assembled by the purchaser.
Source(s)
I have not seen this documented, but I have the kit.

Name:  Wagon Train Covered Wagon
Number:  1369-P
Year first issued:  1959







Photo courtesy of Rusty Kern of Playset Magazine.
Comments
Though not really a playset, this box contained the 5-inch driver with two horses and whip.  The side of the cloth wagon top reads "Official Wagon Train."  You can see the open box on Page 4.
Source(s)
PFPC 30, PM 43


Name:  Wells Fargo Overland Stagecoach
Number:  1373
Year first issued:  unknown - perhaps 1959 with the Wagon Train covered wagon above


Photo courtesy of Rob, Ebay ID cuberforlife.
Comments
Similar to the Wagon Train covered wagon above, I have not seen this set mentioned in any reference material, but found it up for auction on Ebay.  Rob, whom I got the photo from, stated that the number on the box was 1373.  It appears to be a companion to the covered wagon, but has a team of four horses instead of two.  I'd assume that it included a driver and whip.  You can see the open box on Page 4.
Source(s)
As noted in comments.

Photo is not available at this time.Name:  Mammoth Western Wagon Train
Number:  4997 or 4998
Year first issued:  1960 or 1965









Photo courtesy of David Schafer
Comments
This set came in a huge box, about twice as big as a usual playset box.  It contains a 6-inch scale covered wagon, chuck wagon, stage coach, and eight horses, as well as covered wagon and chuck wagon accessories.  Figures were 5-inch scale, including three wagon drivers, one or two mounted Roy Rogers with pistol in right hand, and two mounted Indians with tomahawk in right hand.  Having seen the one owned by David Schafer, I can confirm that it's a beauty!
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 30, Horowitz

Name:  Daniel Boone Frontier Set
Number:  1393
Year first issued:  1965




Photo at right courtesy of Tom Rash.























Comments
The top photo is of the box (in exceptional condition) for the Daniel Boone Frontier Set, which is a very difficult box to find.  The other photo appears to be a store display, though I suppose it could be a variation of the box.  I cannot recall where I picked up the "store display" photo (let me know if it is yours), but if it was on Ebay, I am sorry I did not bid and win it.  Mark Hegeman has this set, but this photo is not of that one.  What a cool set!
Source(s)
PFPC SE, 17, and 18, Horowitz

Photo is not available at this time.Name:  Western Wagon Set
Number:  1394 (?)
Year first issued:  1965
Comments
This may be the set pictured in PM 43.  If so, it contains all three wagons, similar to #4997 and #4998.  However, the photo in PM includes two mounted cowboys and two mounted Indians that I am not familiar with.
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 43 (?)

Photo is not available at this time.Name:  Western Stagecoach Set
Number:  1395
Year first issued:  1965
Comments
This set contains a large scale stagecoach with three each of 6-inch cowboys and Indians,  the 5-inch driver, four horses, and a whip.  Horowitz' book "Marx Western Playsets" includes a photo of this set in the box.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 5, Horowitz

Name:  Stagecoach Playset
Number:  3814
Year first issued:  1972
Comments
This set contains a large scale stagecoach with six each of the 6-inch cowboys and Indians,  the 5-inch driver, four horses, a large scale teepee made of paper, and a whip.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 5, Horowitz



THE LONE RANGER RANCHES AND RODEOS

First released in 1952, the same year as the first Roy Rogers playsets, the Lone Ranger sets were largely identical to Roy's sets, but with different character figures.  The gate (but with the name Lone Ranger on them), fence sections, and rodeo chutes were the same, as were the initial 60mm "Roy Rogers" ranch cowboys and eventually the 54mm cowboy figures.  Even the boxes differred only in the name of the playset hero.

In an unusual marketing ploy, in 1957 Marx also sold small small Lone Ranger sets 1) in header bags of 27 items in 60mm scale  (identified by Marx as set #708) and 2) as General Mills cereal premiums purchased for 50 cents with a mail-in coupon for 22 figures in 54mm scale.  The second included 54mm Lone Ranger and Tonto figures that were not available by any other means of purchase and paper punch-out buildings.

To me, it seems reasonable that these sales were a way to sell excess figures, as the Lone Ranger playsets did not sell well and were not produced after 1957.  A large number of the 54mm character figures were found in storage at the Marx bankruptcy sales.

Name:  Lone Ranger Rodeo
Number:  3696
Year first issued:  1952
Comments
Like the Roy Rogers Rodeo set of 1952, this set included a 3-gate rodeo chute instead of a tin litho building.  It also included the 60mm ranch cowboys that made their debut that year, as well as the two 60mm poses of the Lone Ranger and Tonto.  It was the only Lone Ranger set that 1) had the figures in white (not cream) and 2) included the standing pose of the Lone Ranger.  The set also had a white Lone Ranger gateway (similar to the Roy Rogers gateway), the 60mm blue buckboard with vinyl harness, and a 48-star flag.  Being a rodeo set, it had no Indians.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 50, PM 16 and 55, Horowitz

This photo is not available at this time.Name:  Lone Ranger Ranch Set
Number:  3967
Year first issued:  1957
Comments
Source(s)
PFPC SE

This photo is not available at this time.Name:  Lone Ranger Ranch Set
Number:  3968
Year first issued:  1956
Comments
Playset Magazine reports that this was a small 45-piece set which was a mail order item in the 1956 Wards Christmas Catalog.  It includes the Bar M Ranch cabin, split log fence pieces, but a brown Lone Ranger gateway that is unable to attach to the fence pieces.  Also, the 60mm cowboys are in soft plastic rather than vinyl.  No Indians other than Tonto.
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 55

Name:  Lone Ranger Ranch Set
Number:  3969  (brown box)
Year first issued:  1957
Comments
This set is a mixed scale with the 60mm character figures (no standing Lone Ranger), the new 54mm cowboys, and 45mm Indians (including the scalping Indian that was not a part of the original group).  Playset Magazine reports the Indians are in gray and cherry red, while the cowboys have been found in gray, red, and cream.  Like #3968 above, the set had the Bar M Ranch cabin and the brown Lone Ranger gate with split log fence pieces.   
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 50, PM 55, Horowitz
Name:  Lone Ranger Ranch Set
Number:  3969  (white box)
Year first issued:  1958
Comments
As explained in Issue 55 of Playset Magazine, the contents of this set had several differences from the previous year's set under the same number.  The set added the 35-piece cowboy weapons sprue (in flat yellow), but had fewer Indians (in yellow).  Its cowboys were gray and tan.   
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 50, PM 55, Horowitz
Recent Price Lines I Have Noticed
$820 July 2011 Never assembled.




THE RIFLEMAN

Based on the television program by the same name, The Rifleman Ranch was similar to the company's Johnny Ringo playset, except for the character figures. 

PFPC Issue 38 indicates that there were three Rifleman playsets:  #3997, #3998, and #3997-3998, all with the same basic pieces.  I would think that the actual circumstances might be that Marx issued a single box with both numbers, marking out the number that did not apply, similar to the first Roy Rogers box for sets #3979-3980.  And I would think that there would be a few more pieces in one of them...but that is all guess work.

Name:  The Rifleman Ranch
Number:  3997-3998
Year first issued:  1959







Comments
The Rifleman Ranch set included character figures of Lucas McCain and son Mark, along with a small rifle similar to the Rifleman's rifle, all made in the same mold.  The rifle is nice, but in a larger scale than the 54mm figures.  Otherwise, the set used items from other Marx playsets:  a "Rifleman" version of the gate used in generic Western Ranch playsets, a 60mm blue buckboard, two tin litho cabins (including one Rifleman cabin with a unique light gray porch and chimney), and 54mm cowboys, animals, and accessories.

Source(s)
PFPC SE and 38, PM 16, Horowitz
Recent Price Lines I have noticed
$1,575 December 2011 Ebay described as dead mint
$425 September 2012 Ebay great deal for buyer



RIN TIN TIN AT FORT APACHE

Should one ever choose to criticize Marx for its economic re-use of the same playset pieces in "new" playsets, Rin Tin Tin is the example to use.  Not only did they use the same playset pieces, but they even used the same name:  Rin Tin Tin at Fort Apache!  And as the name suggests, the playsets were really just versions of Fort Apache with character figures added:  Rin Tin Tin, Rusty, and Lieutenant Rip Masters.

Rin Tin Tin sets did, however, get some items in their first year of production.  These include the 60mm U.S. Cavalry figures, the Cavalry Headquarters tin litho building, and the fort blockhouse-over-the-gate.  Some also had early small accessory sprues and 45mm Fort Dearborn Cavalrymen in powder blue.

Like the Lone Ranger, Rin Tin Tin was sold as set of figures in a header bag in 1957 (identified by Marx as #P-0818).  These included 60mm cavalrymen, Indians, and character figures.  The bagged character figures were in a light blue, the only source for them in any color other than cream.  

Name:  Rin Tin Tin at Fort Apache
Number:  3627
Year first issued:  1956








Photo courtesy of Rob Colwell, Ebay marxplayer.
Comments
One of the two initial Rin Tin Tin at Fort Apache playsets, this set included the three Rin Tin Tin character figures in cream (as did all the Rin Tin Tin playsets), the 60mm Cavalry figures in metallic blue, and a set of each the 60mm Stockade and Skinny Indians -- all in soft plastic.   It also has the new down-sized cabin with straight horseshoe door, stovepipe chimney, no floor, and held together in the back by a thick steel wire (often called a back bar or back brace).  With no floor, the set does not include furniture found in earlier Fort Apache sets.  The stockade has the basic Fort Apache gate and 6-piece blockhouses.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 60; PM 12, 15; and 72; Horowitz
Recent Price Lines I Have Noticed
$450 June 2011 Asking price by vendor at Marx Convention.
$450 January 2012 Ebay

Photo is not available at this time, but Playset Magazine states it is identical to the #3627 box.Name:  Rin Tin Tin at Fort Apache
Number:  3628
Year first issued:  1956






Comments
This set's contents were identical to #3627, but included an extra set of the six Stockade Indians.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 60, PM 12 and 72, Horowitz

Name:  Rin Tin Tin at Fort Apache
Number:  3657
Year first issued:  1957






Comments
This set is virtually identical to #3658 (see below) except it does not include the new U. S. Cavalry Headquarters building.  Instead, it has the down-sized cabin included it the #3627 and #2628 sets (see above).

Source(s)
PFPC SE and 60, Playset Magazine 72, Horowitz
Recent Price Lines I Have Noticed
$275 June 2011 Asking price by vendor at Marx Convention.

Name:  Rin Tin Tin at Fort Apache
Number:  3658
Year first issued:  1957






Comments
This set usually had two sets of the new 54mm Alamo frontiersmen and two sets of fifteen 54mm Indians.  However, a few sets have been found with 45mm Cavalrymen replacing one of the 54mm frontiermen sets.  More importantly, the set introduced the new U.S. Cavalry Headquarters, as pictured on the revised box top.  This is the building version with plastic pegs representing log ends, similar to Marx' Alamo chapel.  In addition, the set introduced the stockade's 2-piece blockhouses, single pole ladders, and L-shaped walls.

Source(s)
PFPC SE and 60; PM 16 and 72
Recent Price Lines I have noticed
$950 February 2012 Ebay near mint

This photo is not available at this time.Name:  Rin Tin Tin at Fort Apache
Number:  3685
Year first issued:  1958






Comments
The PFPC article noted below states the authors had no playset of this number to determine its contents, and Playset Magazine articles do not mention this playset version.  Oddly, Horowitz claims that this set replaced the non-Rin Tin Tin Fort Apache #3675 of 1957 and also lists a second version using this number sold through Sears in 1966.  I would suspect that any Rin Tin Tin set assigned this number never reached production.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 60, Horowitz

Name:  Rin Tin Tin at Fort Apache
Number:  3686-R
Year first issued:  1958






Comments
This final Rin Tin Tin set adds the blockhouse-over-the-gate (which had just been introduced in another Fort Apache set), a firing cannon and shells in a rare silver, and is one of the few wild west sets to include a canoe, in hard plastic red.  Some Marx documentation suggests that the set was initially to have a U. S. Cavalry Headquarters building, but it ended up with the down-sized, open door cabin with no floor.  In any case, this version has two sets of each 54mm Alamo frontiersmen and 54mm Indians, as well as both Cavalry and Indian small accessory sprues.  This was the end of Marx' Rin Tin Tin production.  PFPC SE and Horowitz cite #3686 without the -R.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 60, PM 14 and 72, Horowitz
 


ROY ROGERS RANCHES AND RODEOS
 
     See also Roy Rogers Western Towns in the Western Towns Section.

While Fort Apache playsets were the biggest seller for Marx in the long run, it was Roy Rogers that provided the initial spark for the Golden Age of Playsets in the 1950s and 1960s.  Playset Magazine quoted Marx Chief Designer Frank Rice as saying, "The Western Ranch (Play Set) wasn't doing as well as we'd have liked.  But then we added the Roy Rogers name and it really took off."

Roy Rogers playsets were the first Marx sets that included character figures, representing wild west characters from popular television series or movies.  Though it cost the toy company money to use the character name and likeness, the character figure and playset became standard Marx practice with such sets as the Alamo, Lone Ranger, Wagon Train, and Gunsmoke.  In fact, some sets were created with a few new character figures simply added to existing figures and accessories already used in previous sets.  For example, Lone Ranger ranch and rodeo playsets were basically the same as the Roy Rogers sets, but with different character figures.

The earliest Roy Rogers ranch and rodeo sets in 1952 used the same figures as the earlier generic Western Ranch sets, with the addition of 60mm character figures of Roy, Dale, and Bullet (Pat Brady was added later).  But by late 1952, Roy's sets came with his own unique ranch cowboys.  He also got his own cabin and gate, both labeled "Roy Rogers Double R Bar Ranch."  The new downsized 54mm scale cowby figures -- and character figures -- were first included in the Roy Rogers sets in 1957 Rodeo Ranch playsets (#3988 and #3996).  Another unique item included in some sets was the Nellybelle jeep.

Name:  Roy Rogers Ranch Set
Number:  3979-3980
Year first issued:  1952
Comments
Both playset numbers were printed on the box.  Factory workers marked out the number that was not valid for the playset.
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 24

Name:  Roy Rogers Rodeo
Number:  3690
Year first issued:  1952
Comments
Marx' rodeo chutes first appeared in this set.
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 24

Name:  Roy Rogers Rodeo
Number:  3689
Year first issued:  1952
Comments
Source(s)
PFPC SE

Name:  Happi-Time Roy Rogers Rodeo Ranch
Number:  3990
Year first issued:  1953
Comments
The Happi-Time designation means that the set was sold by Sears Roebuck.  According to PM, this set introduced the tin litho cabin in a white clapboard.
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 24, Horowitz
Recent Price Lines I have noticed
$550 April 2011 Ebay opened for inspection, never played with

Name:  Roy Rogers Rodeo Ranch
Number:  3985 and 3986
Year first issued:  1954
Comments
These were the last Roy Rogers sets with the 60mm figures and have only one character figure, a standing Roy Rogers either with hands on hips or with pistol drawn.  In at least one #3986, the Roy Rogers figure was made in a rare chocolate color.  Playset Magazine reports that #3985 was first released in 1954 and #3986 in 1956, but that Marx company documentation indicates their contents to be the same.  However, in at least the later-produced #3986 sets, the ranch hands came in blue, yellow, and brown rather than the more traditional colors in #3985 of red brown, yellow, and cream.  These same sets are reported to include 54mm horses rather than 60mm horses with separate saddles and reins, but I have no idea how the 60mm figure could stay on the 54mm horses!  If you are lucky enough to find an unopened box, those with hand-stamped numbers should have the 60mm horses, while the ones with factory-printed numbers get 54mm horses.
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 24, Horowitz

Name:  Happi-Time Roy Rogers Rodeo Ranch
Number:  3992
Year first issued:  1955
Comments
The Happi-Time designation means that the set was sold by Sears Roebuck.
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 24, Horowitz

Name:  Roy Rogers Rodeo Ranch
Number:  3996
Year first issued:  1957
Comments
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 25, Horowitz

Name:  Roy Rogers Rodeo Ranch
Number:  3988
Year first issued:  1957
Comments
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 25

Name:  Roy Rogers Rodeo Ranch
Number:  3987
Year first issued:  1958
Comments
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 25

Name:  Roy Rogers Double-R-Bar Ranch
Number:  3989
Year first issued:  1959
Comments
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 25, Horowitz

Photo is not available at this time.Name:  Roy Rogers Rodeo Ranch
Number:  3982
Year first issued:  1962
Comments
Source(s)
PFPC SE, PM 25, Horowitz



SMALL SCALE PLAYSETS

In the 1960s, the company's Hong Kong operations produced a number of small scale playsets in many themes, including the wild west sets shown below.  These sets appeared in many major retailer catalogs and became very popular for a few years.  They are difficult to find today, perhaps because they were produced for a short period of time and because the small pieces were so easily lost.  Although they are often called HO scale sets, they are actually slightly larger; figures in HO scale are just under an inch high, while figures in these sets are about 1-1/4 inches.
   
For the most part, the figures in these sets were downsized copies of those in the larger 54mm and 60mm playsets.  However, they did include some different poses, and many of the accessories are also different from the larger playsets.  With a few exceptions, figures and accessories are hard plastic and painted.

These small sets are described in more detail on Page 6 of this web site.  The best published source that I have found for Marx' miniature playsets is Plastic Figure and Playset Collector Issue 18.
Name:  Western Town Miniature Play Set
Number:  HK-8933
Year first issued:  early 1960s, exact year unknown
























Comments
I am lucky enough to own this set very nearly mint.  The set I received had been opened, but every bag in the box was still sealed.  The box has the six buildings shown on the box top, including the large Dodge House which is a combined saloon-hotel.  The smaller buildings included a general store, bank, blacksmith, jail, and barber shop.  
Unlike the tin lithographed buildings in the larger scale sets, the buildings here are made of thick card stock and plastic.  No traditional playset in 54mm or 60mm scale could offer so many buildings.  I have seen more of the town sets for sale on Ebay than any other wild west miniature set.

The two smaller photos above are the box sides.  The photo at right is what the inside of the box looked like when it was first opened.  The structures and terrain pieces are all in plastic bags "loose" in the box,  while the figures and smaller accessories are in bags within a smaller box (opened in the photo).  I do not generally provide information on specific playset contents, but I have never seen a contents list for this set and therefore will list exactly what I found in it:

1 large plastic bag with instructions and cardstock pieces for the six buildings
1 playset mat
1 bag of plastic pieces for blacksmith shop (labeled No. 1)
1 bag of plastic pieces for barber shop (No. 2)
1 bag of plastic pieces for jail (No. 3)
1 bag of plastic pieces for Dodge City Bank (No. 4)
1 bag of plastic pieces for store (No. 5)
1 bag of plastic pieces for Dodge House (No. 6)
1 bag of 10 pieces of yellow picket fencing
1 bag of 12 pieces of brown wooden rail fencing with a large number of tiny feet for the fence
1 bag with parts for a red stagecoach and two brown buckboards, including wagons, hitches, wheels, and metal axles
1 bag of animals (2 standing cows, 2 lying cows, 2 standing sheep, 2 lying sheep, 1 small standing dog, and 1 large standing dog)
1 bag of 8 tan wagon horses
1 bag of 8 horses with bases (2 brown horses with one foot up, 2 black horses with front two feet up, and 4 black horses with one foot up)
1 bag of 8 running horses without bases (4 white, 4 gray)
1 bag of 24 cowboys (6 each of fighting with hat, fighting with no hat, drawing pistol, pointing pistol forward, with whip, and with pistol and bag)
1 bag of 50 cowboys (5 each of hands up, woman with basket, outlaw pointing pistol with safe box, two guns drawn, walking with branding iron, with rope and harness (WOW pose), twirling rope (WOW pose), Dale Evans pose waving, Flint McCullough pose (slightly crouching with pistol drawn), and Seth Adams pose (walking with rifle and whip)
1 bag of 9 mounted cowboys and wagon riders (two mounted waving, two mounted with pistol, one mounted with rifle, two seated with whip, and two seated holding rifle)
1 bag of small accessories (1 hay wagon with connecting pin to hitch, 8 hitching posts, 1 dip well in two pieces, 4 barrels, 2 cacti similar to 54mm cacti, 2 cacti of a different type, 1 haystack with hole in top, 1 bottomless pumpkin that appears to fit on top of haystack, 1 anvil same as 54mm, 1 butter churn same as 54mm, and 3 tiny benches that are too small for the playset scale)

Although the set was virtually mint, a few of the figures had broken pieces -- including all five of the cowboys with two guns drawn -- and the the hitches, axles and wheels were missing for one of the buckboards and the hay wagon (perhaps a bag was missing that contained these).  The paint work on the figures was absolutely horrendous, though some figures were done slightly better than others.  Of interest, there was some logic to the painting madness, as all figures in each pose were painted exactly the same colors.  For example, all horse saddles are -- yuck -- light blue or pink!  Overall, it is hard to imagine a youngster getting too excited about such terribly painted and fragile figures.  I have heard that Glendale playset workers looked down their noses at the Hong Kong products, and based on this set, I can see why.  I'm sure the quality of these sets did not help to stave off the eventual bankruptcy.

By the way, I have no idea what the haystack-pumpkin thing is all about!
Source(s)
PFPC 18, as well as the near-mint set I own, information from the box, and the set's instruction sheet.

Name:  Custer's Last Stand Miniature Play Set
Number:  unknown
Year first issued:  unknown






Photo courtesy of Ebay luby
Comments
If you look closely at the box top above, you will see that Cavalry sharpshooters have taken up position on top of a steep mountain.  This terrain piece is a part of the set, and PFPC refers to it as 
a "unique, pueblo-style mountain piece" that is the highlight of the set.  As you can tell by the content listing on the front of the box, it had a ton of stuff in it.  This set in good condition and pretty near complete sold for $545 in December 2009.
Source(s)
PFPC 18; PM 2 pp. 20-21 and 3 p. 26.

Name:  Fort Apache Miniature Play Set
Number:  unknown
Year first issued:  unknown




Cowboy version







Cavalry version
Photo courtesy of Mark, Ebay ID mark-nfa


Comments
There were at least three and perhaps more versions of the miniature Fort Apache.  The top box shown is the set with cowboys.  Another version included U.S. Cavalry instead of cowboys, and I have seen photos of two boxes for the cavalrymen:  one like the cowboy set above but with cavalrymen depicted on the box top and the other shown above.  Many of the cowboys are small versions of Marx 54mm and 60mm figures -- including Seth Adams, Flint McCullough, and Dale Evans -- but there are also several new poses.  The Cavalrymen are downsized versions of Marx 60mm Cavalry, and the Indians are a mixed bag with several poses from the Marx 3-inch Indian group and some that are not found in other scales.  
Source(s)
PFPC 18

Name:  Covered Wagon Attack Miniature Play Set
Number:  unknown
Year first issued:  unknown






Comments
The incredible painting on the box top -- including one wagon on fire -- almost outdoes the playset inside the box.  The set included five covered wagons and a large number of cowboys and Indians.  I find it odd that Marx never made the larger scale version of this set.  I guess the bigger Wagon Train sets came close.
Source(s)
PFPC 18

Name:  Border Battle Play Set
Number:  unknown
Year first issued:  unknown




Photo courtesy of Jamie Zervos, Ebay Themid-nitepickle
Comments
Titled Border Battle, this was actually an Alamo set.  Almost all the figures and accessories are similar to the larger scale Alamo sets, but the "fort" has plastic walls and a plastic Alamo chapel.  Mexican troops included both the Shako and round hat poses.  See Page 6 of the Wild West Section for more information on this set.
Source(s)
PFPC 18
Recent Price Lines I have noticed
$787 November 2011 Ebay


TALES OF WELLS FARGO

Riding the popularity of The Tales of Wells Fargo television program, Marx' Tales of Wells Fargo Play Set was introduced in 1959 as an exclusive for Montgomery Wards.  Sold in a variety of versions -- including some that included a Marx train set -- the play sets included a Jim Hardie character figure, a Wells Fargo stagecoach, a wagon driver with whip, and two buildings: the Wells Fargo Headquarters and the smaller Marx town front that had a general store, a Wells Fargo office, and the Silver Dollar Music Hall.  The play set was not a big seller and was produced only the one year, making it a rather difficult set to find today.

Name:  Tales of Wells Fargo
Number:  4262
Year first issued:  1959
Comments
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 26, Horowitz

Name:  Tales of Wells Fargo
Number:  4263
Year first issued:  1959
Comments
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 26, PM 16

Photo not available at this time.Name:  Tales of Wells Fargo
Number:  4264
Year first issued:  1959
Comments
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 26, Horowitz

Name:  Tales of Wells Fargo Electric Train Set
Number:  54752
Year first issued:  1959
Comments
Source(s)
PFPC 26, PM 16

Name:  Tales of Wells Fargo Electric Train Set
Number:  54762
Year first issued:  1959
 







Photo courtesy of Corey DeMello, Ebay tagetfixation 

Comments
Source(s)
PFPC 26, PM 16



TRAIN SETS
 
     See also playsets with trains in Tales of Wells Fargo section.
Name:  Wild West Train Set
Number:  unknown
Year first issued:  unknown








Photo courtesy of Dan Fowler, Ebay dan112055.
Comments
Perhaps not technically a playset, this train set included 54mm cowboys and Indians and a group of outside accessories.  As noted on the box, this was a battery-powered train set, not the usual Marx electric toy train.
Source(s)
Photos and description from Ebay auction by Dan Fowler and verification from collector Mike Handley.



WAGON TRAIN

Marx sold its Wagon Train play sets in 1958 and 1959, based on the television series of the same name.   The Wagon Train sets introduced three new figures: character figures of television characters Seth Adams and Flint McCullough and the wagon driver with whip, which was included in many later play sets.  Some of the later sets apparently did not include the Seth Adams figure, after actor Ward Bond unexpectedly passed away.

Name:  Wagon Train Set
Number:  4777
Year first issued:  1958
Comments
This set three 60mm covered wagons.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 30, PM 42 and 16, Horowitz

Name:  Wagon Train Play Set
Number:  4788
Year first issued:  1959






Photo courtesy of David Schafer.
Comments
Early versions of this set had three 60mm covered wagons, but later versions switched to the new 54mm wagons.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 30, PM 42, Horowitz

Name:  Wagon Train Play Set
Number:  4888
Year first issued:  1959








Photo courtesy of David Schafer.
Comments
This set expanded to a whopping five 54mm wagons -- two red, two blue, and one yellow.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 30, PM 42, Horowitz
Recent Price Lines I Have Noticed
$5,700 March 2011 Ebay

Name:  Wagon Train Play Set
Number:  4805
Year first issued:  1959










Photo provided by David Schafer.
Comments
This final Wagon Train set had four 54mm wagons, with one of them pulled by oxen.
Source(s)
PFPC 30, PM 42, Horowitz, Toy Soldiers and Collectibles Issue 3
Recent Price Lines I have noticed
$2,500 January 2012 Ebay near complete


WESTERN RANCH

The Marx Western Ranch was my first playset, but it receives little attention or coverage today.  To say that it was a very basic playset with crudely sculpted figures is an understatement.  It included a nice tin litho cabin -- every bit as attractive as any other Marx tin litho building -- but had just eight 60mm scale, clunky-looking cowboys (which were therefore were dubbed "chubby" by collectors), a handful of similar animals, and no villains at all (such as Indians or stage robbers).  It was more related to Marx' farm sets than its subsequent shoot-'em-up sets, such as Fort Apache and the Alamo.  As a 7-year-old kid, I was thrilled to have it.  Today I enjoy having it, but can understand why many collectors ignore it.

The 1994 PFPC Special Edition lists seven different Western Ranch sets, but I generally have no way to verify that all seven exist, relate the set numbers to box photos (except for the second one shown below) , or attach any specific release dates to them.  I think that these sets were produced largely in 1951 and 1952 (or 1950?), but based on my reading, at least one Western Ranch set with 54mm cowboys may have been issued when Marx stopped using the Roy Rogers name in the late 1950s.  I seem to recall that mine came in the first box below.  If anyone out there has photos of other boxes or can attach numbers or dates to boxes, drop me a note!

Name:  Western Ranch Set
Number:  39??
Year first issued:  early 1950s
Comments
Source(s)
PFPC SE

Name:  Western Ranch Set
Number:  3954
Year first issued:  early 1950s
Comments
Source(s)
PFPC SE

Name:  Western Ranch Set
Number:  39??
Year first issued:  early 1950s
Comments
Source(s)
PFPC SE

Name:  Happi-Time Western Ranch Set
Number:  5950
Year first issued:  late 1950s








Photo courtesy of David Schafer.
Comments
This appears to be the last Western Ranch set issued, after Marx and Roy Rogers severed ties in the late 1950s.  Based on David Schafer's photos, the set included a Roy Rogers type gate with no lettering on the gate.  
The Happi-Time designation means that the set was sold by Sears Roebuck.
Source(s)
PFPC SE

 

WESTERN TOWNS

Marx wild west town playsets date from 1952, when the company issued generic and Roy Rogers Western Town playsets.   These included one of two town fronts created in a down-sized 60mm scale which collectors today generally refer to as the "hotel side" or "jail side" town fronts.  Photos of these buildings are on Page 5 of this web site.

Those first Roy Rogers sets had a boardwalk roof sign reading "Roy Rogers Mineral City." Generic sets included signs that read "Trading Post" or "General Store."  Later town sets listed in this section used the same hotel side or jail side towns, simply substituting appropriate boardwalk roof signs.  

As stated in PFPC Issue 40, "For Western enthusiasts there never was, is, or will be another tin lithograph as impressive and authentic as the two-story Marx Western Town Buildings."  Besides the beautiful town fronts, the sets included a large number of either 60mm or 54mm scale figures and animals and a variety of indoor and outdoor furniture and accessories.  
The collector's dream today is to find a
1956 Silver City Western Frontier Town #4268, which was the only set to include both hotel side and jail side town fronts, as well as the only one to include painted figures.

The final set shown below -- the Western Mining Town -- is something of a mystery.  In PFPC Issue 8, Ron Angleton states that the set did not have the playset number on it and included largely all the items in either Gunsmoke or Ringo playsets, minus the character figures.  This suggests, he points out, that the set was made up of the surplus items left over after the other two sets were pulled from production.  He also notes that the 54mm Indian group was made in a beautiful unique burgundy-wine color.

The photo includes two playset number, because I have seen three publications that include two numbers for the set.  So, maybe there are two Western Mining Town versions?

Name:  Roy Rogers Western Town
Number:  4258
Year first issued:  1952
Comments
This set includes the 60mm town front with a hotel.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 40, PM 24, Horowitz

Name:  Western Town
Number:  4230
Year first issued:  1952
Comments
This set includes the 60mm town front with a hotel.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 40

Name:  Western Town
Number:  4229
Year first issued:  1952
Comments
This set includes the 60mm town front with a jail.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 40

Photo is not available at this time.Name:  Roy Rogers Western Town
Number:  4257
Year first issued:  1952
Comments
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 40, PM 24, Horowitz

Photo is not available at this time.Name:  Silver City Western Town
Number:  4256
Year first issued:  1954
Comments
This set includes the 60mm town front with a hotel.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 40, Horowitz

Name:  Silver City Western Town
Number:  4219
Year first issued:  1955
Comments
This set includes the 60mm town front with a hotel.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 40, Horowitz

Name:  Silver City Frontier Town
Number:  4220
Year first issued:  1955
Comments
This set includes the 60mm town front with a hotel.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 40, Horowitz

Name:  Silver City Western Frontier Town Set
Number:  4268
Year first issued:  1956
Comments
This was the only playset that included both 60mm townfronts, one with the hotel and the other with the jail.  It also was the only one that included painted figures.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 40, Horowitz

Photo is not available at this time.Name:  Wyatt Earp Dodge City Western Town
Number:  4228
Year first issued:  1957
Comments
This first Wyatt Earp town playset was sold exclusively by Montgomery Ward.  They also sold a very similar version under the same number in 1958.  They the 60mm town front with hotel, a stagecoach
, two sets of 54mm cowboys, and a set of 54mm Indians.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 40, PM 16 and 66, Horowitz, Toy Soldiers and Collectibles magazine Issue 2

Name:  Roy Rogers Western Town
Number:  4259
Year first issued:  1957
Comments
This set included the 60mm town front with a jail, as well as the Bar-M-Ranch cabin.  According to PM 24, the set included 54mm cowboys, the Nellybelle jeep, and a stagecoach.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 40, PM 25

Photo is not available at this time.Name:  Roy Rogers Western Town
Number:  4227
Year first issued:  1958
Comments
This set included the 60mm town front with a hotel.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 40, PM 25

Name:  Roy Rogers Western Town
Number:  4216
Year first issued:  1958
Comments
This set included the 60mm town front with a jail.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 40, PM 25, Horowitz

Name:  Roy Rogers Western Town
Number:  4255
Year first issued:  1958
Comments
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 40, PM 25, Horowitz

Photo is not available at this time.Name:  Wyatt Earp Dodge City Western Town
Number:  4226
Year first issued:  1958
Comments
This set included the 60mm town front with a hotel. It  was featured in the Spiegel's catalog for the 1958 holiday season and included a blue buckboard with the "hoop" hitch instead of a stagecoach, which was included in Wyatt Earp sets sold by Wards.   As the 1958 Wards set (see next set), it included  cowboy and Indian weapon sprues.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 40, PM 66, Horowitz, Toy Soldiers and Collectibles magazine Issue 2

Name:  Hugh O'Brian Wyatt Earp Dodge City Western Town
Number:  4228
Year first issued:  1958
Comments
The second of two Wyatt Earp set sold by Wards, this one was almost identical to the first one sold in 1957.  
This one included cowboy and Indian weapon sprues.. 
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 40, PM 16 and 66, Horowitz, Toy Soldiers and Collectibles magazine Issue 2

Name:  Western Town
Number:  4252 (?)
Year first issued:  1959
Comments
The set included the 60mm town front with a hotel. 
Source(s)
PFPC SE

Name:  Western Mining Town Play Set
Number:  4265
Year first issued:  1960
Comments
The set included the 60mm town front with a hotel. 
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 8, Horowitz

Name:  Western Mining Town Play Set
Number:  4266
Year first issued:  1960
Comments
The set included the 60mm town front with a hotel. 
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 8, Horowitz



WYATT EARP
 
     See Wyatt Earp Dodge City play sets in Western Town Section.



ZORRO

Zorro was yet another Marx playset inspired by a television program.  Marx must surely have lost money on this one, because despite numerous items used only in this set, it did not last long.  Marx initially produced its Zorro set (actually two versions) in 1958.  The television show had debuted in 1957, but was cancelled suddenly after the 1958 season.  When television re-runs renewed interest in Zorro, Marx gave it one more try in 1965, but again sales lasted only one year.

The sets included an unusually large number of new and often unique items:  six character figures (the most of any wild west playset), a 10-pose group of  Mexicans soldiers wearing sombreros, a specially designed Zorro gate and walls that were shorter than those used for the Alamo, an attractive hacienda building that included a plastic tile roof and balcony, a vacuform Zorro hill with cave, a set of palm trees and ferns, and a metal Zorro flag.  The Mexican soldiers were ultimately used in late-issue Alamo sets, and the palm trees and ferns are also in Prehistoric sets.  Everything else was used only for Zorro.

Name:  Walt Disney's Zorro Play Set
Number:  3753
Year first issued:  1958
Comments
This "Green Box" set was the smallest one, labeled Series 500.  However, it included all the necessary Zorro items:  the six character figures, 32 Sombrero Hat Mexican soldiers, the Mexican fort and Hacienda, and Zorro's cave.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 28, PM 8

Name:  Walt Disney's Zorro Play Set
Number:  3754
Year first issued:  1958
Comments
The "Red Box" set was actually two sets, one Series 750 and the other Series 1000.  The higher the series number, the more pieces in the box.  These sets, for example, included not only the new Sombrero Hat Mexican soldiers, but also the old Alamo Shako Hat soldiers.  Collectors have found that the contents of these sets are not always the same and, in some cases, the Zorro cave has been missing.  Playset Magazine notes that Sombrero Hat soldiers in "a highly desireable lavender color" come from the Series 750 set.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 28, PM 8

Name:  Walt Disney's Zorro Play Set
Number:  3758
Year first issued:  1965
Comments
Known as the "Gold Box" set, this playset was released when the Zorro television shows were re-run in the 1965-66 television season.  Playset Magazine reports that contents of the set were not always identical, but the set included the Zorro cave with a new paint scheme, character figures are waxy yellow or white, and Mexican soldiers were semi-waxy.
Source(s)
PFPC SE and 28, PM 8, Horowitz



SORRY, BUT IT'S NOT...

Since the Louis Marx & Co. closed its doors in 1980, many companies have used its molds to manufacture and sell play set figures and accessories.  Playset Magazine Issue 20 notes that in 1995 two versions of Fort Apache were available, one from Jay Horowitz' new Marx Toy Company and another from a company called Toy Street.  The first was labeled "Vintage Collectible," which is a dead give-away that it is a reproduction.  Classic Toy Soldiers (CTS) continues to sell a playset named Fort Apache, which includes re-issued Marx items, as well as re-issues from other companies and some of its own original figures.

I will not comment on the contents or quality of these play sets, but collectors generally do not consider these figures and playsets to be "original" Marx items and place much less value on them.  While many figures and other items in these play sets are "re-issue" Marx items, they often include re-issued items from other toy companies.

1990 - Gold Rush Play Set
Labeled Louis Marx & Co. and even provided a play set number (#4790), it was still a re-issue 10 years after the company ceased to exist.  The set includes a plastic MPC town front and a glaringly red stagecoach, but overall was a nice play set.


early 1990s - Fort Apache Play Sets
These are two of several re-issue Marx playsets produced by Toy Street.  They were sold primarily at Toys-R-Us from about 1989 to 1992.  Photos courtesy of Bill Nevins, Ebay nevinsrip.


1995 - Davy Crockett at the Alamo
Another re-issue bearing the Marx logo for the Alamo battle's 160th anniversary.  Notice the modern choking hazard warning in the lower left corner, a clue that it is not an original.
(Photo courtesy of Bob Szukala)

Fort Apache Western Playset issued in the 1990s by Kay Bee Toys, which was founded by Marx family members.
The designation "Famous" at the top of the box is a heavy hint that this set is not authentic Marx.  Note also the odd cabin and the ugly yellow accessories.


WHEN YOU WANT A REAL NICE BOX REAL BAD...

Even with no contents, Marx playset boxes in good shape are hard to find and can cost a pretty penny today.  Those is only fair shape will still set you back a few dollars.  Some collectors have developed methods to improve vintage Marx boxes that have been damaged, and I have read of techniques as strange as ironing them.  I'm afraid I can't help you much along that line.
 
However, if you want a nice box, there is a company that makes replacement boxes, Nostalgia Toy Box.  The boxes are not identical to the original, but they are close, and the ones I have seen are new, well-made, and attractive.  They are not cheap, but then not much in this hobby is cheap.

Some of the boxes which were sold by Nostalgia Toy Box on Ebay in 2009 are shown below. 
You can use boxes like the ones shown below to take the place of original Marx boxes.  Or you can create your own play set and purchase a box for it, such as Bonanza, Have Gun Will Travel, Straight Arrow, or even Davy Crockett Meets Godzilla!

If you're interested, you can find the web site for Nostalgia Toy Box on the links page.


Nostalgia Toy Box display at 2009 OTSN


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