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

 
Appendix F-1  - Farmers and Farm Animals
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 name to move to section)
 
Farmers and Farm Animals
60mm Farmers
54mm Farmers
Early Tractor Driver
Lassie Figures
First Series Animals
Second Series Animals
Third Series Animals
Prize Livestock
Birds
Miniature Farm Figures
Miniature Display Boxes
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Like Marx' Wild West playsets, the company's farm playsets were a mainstay throughout the Playset Era from 1951 to the 1970.  In fact, the first playset made by Marx in 1951 may have been a farm set.  The farms are very different from most Marx sets, because they do not have opposing forces to wage battles against each other.  However, they were popular among children who lived on real farms and to younger children, who in that era were not exposed so early to violence that looks "fun", which is so prevalent in today's television programs, movies, and even cartoons.  Of course, that's only my opinion as to why they remained so popular, but I don't know how else to explain it.

As best as I can recall, the first playset I owned as a young child was a farm set.  I do not recall much about it other than the bale of hay that could be pulled up to the barn's hayloft on a hook and pulley; I imagine it was either a small, early Marx set or one of the several copy-cat sets made by Marx competitors.  I never lived on a farm and do not know much about them, other than my idealistic childhood dreams of farm life, without the hard work and routine chores required to operate a farm.  I have actually learned a little about farms in preparing these two web pages, especially about the variety of machinery used on farms and reproduced in miniature by Marx

Marx' early farm sets were sold primarily by Sears and Roebuck and by Montgomery Wards.  Sears sets were labeled "Happi Time Farm", and Wards were labeled "Lazy Day Farm."  The name was emblazoned on the set's box and on the barn inside.  Interestingly, according to Playset Magazine Issue 18, Louis Marx bought a large farm in 1939 which he named Lazy Day, long before the playsets were made.

Of course, many Marx farm sets were sold by other companies, and barns with no name came from these sets.  The contents of all sets were mostly pulled from the same inventory of figures and accessories, but the contents varied greatly from one to another.  For example, one notable difference -- as pointed out by Playset Magazine -- was that Sears sets had no human figures until 1956 and Wards sets had no farm silo until 1957.  Barn lithography also differed by more than just the names.  In a few instances, companies sold sets with unique items, such as specialty farm implements found in some Wards sets, as described on the Farm Accessories page of this web site.  And of course there were small farm sets with a little stuff in them and large and costly set with a lot more stuff in them.

I have recently learned that setting up a Marx farm for display can be a very peaceful and enjoyable activity to undertake.  Besides taking a few moments to admire the colorful and detailed figures and accessories that Marx created, you get a much different feeling when working with a productive domestic activity than when setting up a bloody World War II battle scene.  And you can do it without all the hard work it takes to run a real farm!

  

Farmers

 
  60mm Figures

Figures in early Marx farm sets were similar to the Wild West ranch figures, chubby-looking and lacking any significant detail.  While I refer to these as 60mm figures, the largest one below -- Pose 3 -- is 59mm tall.  Pose 1, the farmer's wife, is 54mm.  However, their bulk makes them look much larger than the 54mm farm figures shown in the next section.  

Figures shown below are vinyl and light gray, except for the scarecrow.  Geppert's Guide to Non-Mettalic Toy Soldiers reports that they also came in cream, blue, and red (probably the red brown shown below).  Some were also made in soft plastic.  Initial figures had no bases, but Marx added bases to most of them later.  If you look closely, their eyes make them look Asian.

1.  Farmer's wife 2.  Farmer with shovel 3.  Farmer with hoe

4.  Boy with pail 5.  Boy milking cow
Stool is molded onto the figure; note lack of detail on hands.
6.  Scarecrow



     54mm Figures

In 1958 -- about the same time Marx reduced the scale of other playset figures -- the original 60mm farm figures were replaced with 54mm soft plastic figures.  The new farm workers have significantly more detail and realism than the 60mm versions.  

Poses 2 and 4 below are light gray; others are cream.  Geppert's Guide says they were also made in white.  I have found that these figures can grow on you.  If you look carefully at each one, every face is very different, and each figure seems to have its own personality.  Pose 4 appears to be an African-American.  My favorite pose has to be Pose 1, who has paused in his work and is looking directly at you.  He is obviously the guy that owns the farm and wonders what the heck you are doing on it!

Note that the boy carrying the pail is barefoot, the same as his 60mm counterpart.  I've never lived on a farm, but it doesn't seem to me to be a place to run around barefoot.
 
1.  Farmer with hoe 2.  Farmer with pitch fork 3.  Farmer with bag on shoulder

4.  Farmer with chicken under arm 5.  Farmer with wrench 6.  Boy carrying bucket




Starting in 1959, Marx increased the size of tractors and implements in many of its farm sets (see Farm Accessories page).  As with earlier tractors, drivers were molded on, but two of the new implements included seats for implement operators.  They were most often found in sets with platform barns.  The implement operators most often came in green and were soft plastic 54mm scale.  A control stick was molded onto the operator's left hand and fit into a hole in the implement, so that it appeared the operator was controlling the machine.

The figure was one of the few made by Marx that had a peg in his back end to secure him to the vehicle.

Implement driver




     Lassie Figures
 
Based on the television show Lassie, Marx produced character figures of Lassie, his human playmate young Timmy, and Timmy's Grandpa who owned the farm.  They were included in one playset and also in a header bag that also had a few animals and some fence sections.

I've always viewed these figures as 60mm scale, but now I see that Grandpa is a whopping 68mm tall.  That would make him almost seven feet tall in 60mm scale, where 60mm is considered six feet.  And, in fact, he towers over all other Marx farm figures!  At 51mm, Timmy would be just more than five feet in 60mm scale, a bit tall for kids his age.  Pretty large figures for Marx.

Lassie Timmy Gramps




Animals


     First Series Animals - 60mm

As nice as I personally think these initial farm animals appear, they lasted only the first two years of Marx farm production, though a few poses were included in later animal groups.  Notably, the cow lying down in one of the few hollow playset figures that Marx manufactured.  The 60mm animals were made in vinyl and came in numerous colors, including gray, tan, cream, cream, white, and red brown.

According to Playset Magazine Issue 18, a farm dog was also included with the early Marx farm sets.  The type of dog varied from set to set and could be the running dog shown in the Second Series of animals below or could be a cocker spaniel, beagle, or Irish setter from the dogs shown on the Pet Shop page of this web site.


  PL-162
Horse Cow, lying down Cow, standing

  PL-163
Colt Calf Pig

  PL-164
Piglet Goat Sheep Lamb Trough

  PL-165
Rooster Hen on nest Chick Duck Duckling




     Second Series Animals - 54mm

In 1953, Marx replaced its initial group of animals with the second version.  Playset Magazine Issue 18 states that they have "a more relatistic appearance and more detail."  You'll find them in cream, gray, and brown.

  PL-523
Photo not available - we could use yours!
Horse Colt

Cow, head up Cow, eating

Calf Goat Pig Piglet

Kid (baby goat) Lamb, bleating Dog

Along with the primary second series of animals came a revision of the fowls.  The chick, duck, and duckling remained the same, but the rooster and hen were revised to more relatistic figures.  Soft plastic colors included various shades of white, gray, tan, and flesh.

This mold of figures was also used with the third series of farm animals.


  PL-165-1

Rooster Hen, eating Chick Duck Duckling

  PL-688

At some point, Kent Sprecher's site states that Marx created a new mold (PL-688) that included slightly smaller versions of the two Second Series cows and calf, as well as a new "mooing" cow. The mooer has it's tail hanging straight down while the Third Series mooer's tail (shown later on this page) is curled around its rear end. This mold PL-688 had 10 cavities making two sets (with two calves each). Kent reports that these cows from this mold were mainly used for Marx's Livestock hauler set (along with a 14 pc second series farm animal set PL-523), but were also included in the larger Wagon Train playsets. Mooing cow photo below is courtesy of Rich Delbert.

Interestingly, the cows in Wagon Train sets were made with thinner tails that those in farm sets.  Why?  We will probably never know!

1.  Cow mooing
2.  Cow eating (from farm set)
3.  Cow with head up 4.  Calf





     Third Series Animals - 54mm

Marx introduced its Third Series animals in 1959, according to Playset Magazine Issue 46.  The magazine reports, "Really lovely sculpting highlights this set and children love the two frolcking calves."  They seem to have been made almost exclusively in red  brown.

  PL-978
Horse Colt

Cow, head up Cow, head down

Cow, mooing Calf

Photo not available - we could use yours!
Pig Sheep with head up Sheep with head down Goat Dog


     Baby Animals - Goats, Lambs, and Piglets

Again about 1959, Marx added a mold made up entirely of baby animals that came from existing animal groups, with the one apparent exception of the "kid, tail up."  Veteran seller and collector Kent Sprecher, however, states on his web site that there are "subtle differences" between the figures in this mold and the ones in the Second Series above.

While they came initially in cream, Playset Magazine reports that by the late 1960s this baby group was being made in "a more realistic fleshy pink."  I don't recall that I have ever seen them in that color myself.  These animals were also used in the Wild West Wagon Train Play Set, along with the mooing cow, goat, pig, and dog above.


  PL-878
Kid, tail up Kid, tail down Piglet, head up

Piglet, head down Lamb, looking right Lamb, bleating




     Prize Livestock - 54mm (PL-101)

These ten figures were first used in a 1960 Happi-Time Farm Set.
Complete set of prize livestock
Photo courtesy of collector Butch Parker
Photo of Clydesdale in three colors
Photo courtesy of collector Butch Parker

Photo not available - we could use yours! Photo not available - we could use yours!
American Guernsey Ayrshire Brown Swiss

Photo not available - we could use yours!
Black Angus American Short Horn Hereford

Photo not available - we could use yours!
Poland China Hog Clydesdale

Photo not available - we could use yours!
Merino Ram Merino Ewe



     Birds  (unknown PL)

Red and yellow birds came with the first farm sets in 1951, and blue birds were added a year later.  Most farm sets had the birds.
Birds, on ring Birds on a fence




Miniature Farm Figures

Along with its usual playset size farm figures and accessories, Marx also made a barn and a small number of figures and accessories for its series of Marxville buildings, intended for use on model train layouts.  The items are in 40mm scale.  The photos below show the figures I am aware of and a photo of the barn and related accessories from the web site of veteran seller and collector Kent Sprecher.
Farmer Farmer's wife

Cow Horse Pig Goat

Marxville barn and accessories
Fence is small plank fence shown on Farm Accessories page.
Photo courtesy of Kent Sprecher




Miniature Display Boxes

In the 1960s, Marx' Hong Kong manufacturers produced a series of miniature scenes of HO-size figures encased in rectangular clear plastic boxes.  These include some farm scenes, as well as the Wild West and Civil War scenes.  They are not playsets, but they are interesting pieces.  I have no idea whether these ever became popular, but they do not seem to be collected by many people today.  I have a few of them, and the farm boxes I have are shown below.
Coming very soon!!!
HK-6301-1



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.