Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum
By Lando Da Pimp and
Typically a museum brings to mind a very quiet and serene building. Strike that from your mind and read about a truly unique museum, The Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum. This is a wonderful museum presenting a collection of thousands of toys and trains from the past. Located in Wheeling West Virginia the museum has two floors of toys and trains. Marx Toys make up a large part of the museum's collection. The main reason for this is because the Marx company factory was located in Wheeling West Virginia. You can also find a variety of other toys from dollhouses to toy soldiers to electric trains.
The museum occupies an old school house built in 1906. In 1997 the building was purchased and a year later the Toy and Train Museum opened to the public. The school was completely restored bringing out the beauty of the building.
Arriving at the museum we were greeted with a welcome on the large museum sign. This was truly a great boost to our egos! After basking in the greatness of the sign we met up with the museum curator Allan Miller. Alan gave us a two-hour tour showing us specific toys and telling stories of the museum and the building itself. The collection is made up of donations, temporary exhibits, and loans. However a large part is his family's private collection.
Throughout the museum there are different themed rooms. Dolls, soldiers, Marx trains, Lionel trains, and western toys are just a few of the themed rooms.
Mr. Stinkhead chimes in: I enjoyed the little static figurines the most. There is a reason why little green army men are considered a toy staple. That and we love mini-figs. So I loved pouring over all of the collectable figureines. Some where beefy at 6" tall, and quite a bit of girth. Others were the same stature as popular 3" army men. I was a big fan of the Campus Cuties, however my favorite were the American Beauties. These slightly risque nudes were never made publically available. Allan explains that these were made as promos (like Toy Fair swag) and it kept the product in the sales reps' hands. Back before eBay, the sales guys would get all this cool swag, and then just hand it over to their kid. FOOLS! Marx wanted them to be thinking of his company all the time, so he came up with something that people wouldn't so quickly give away. I'm almost over-stimulated here. I love mini-fig collectibles, and I love looking at naked ladies. The two together is bigger than peanut butter and chocolate. Bigger than cigarettes and beer, bigger than, dare I say, sorority girls and Hostess cakes!
I was also infatuated with all of the astronauts. I love toys with helmets (that should be a compendium of articles we put together... note to self), and again, I love these mini-figs. The space race was so big, so dominating in the late fifties and all throughout the 60s. If it looked like it came from space, it would be a hit. I love this space station. You get a bunch of single-piece astronauts, a bunch of equipment, and a cool plastic mat to put it all down on. To me, this is getting more toy than anticipating when looking at the box. When's the last time you got an action figure and was blown away by how much more you got than expected? (Ofcourse, these things could have been $10 and a rip-off back in the day, so I dunno) I used to think that had I grown up in a different era, I would not have survived on the toys available. I mean, look at this one.
Back to Lando
The prototype room contains hundreds pieces showing the design and the manufacturing of a variety of Marx toys. Seeing how a number of these toys have been created can be really interesting. During the war Marx also made weapon parts for grenades. After the war they used the left over parts to make toys. A number of the prototypes were donated to the museum. Some of the same design techniques are still used today.
On the second floor you can view the large 0 gauge train layout. A number of trains travel around the layout throughout a town, hills, and farmland. Users can interact with the trains pushing a number of interactive buttons that run different trains, blow train whistles, and work train crossings.
There are so many things about the museum to talk about that the best way to experience it is in person. We only included a small portion of the images we snapped. If you decide to check it out tell them that MillionairePlayboy sent you!
The museum is located at:
Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum
144 Kruger Street
Wheeling, WV 26003
For more information visit their website: ToyandTrain.com
And if you like cool museums, check out Mr. Stinkhead's coverage of the International Spy Museum in Washington DC.
Article © 2003 MillionairePlayboy.com. All images are © MillionairePlayboy.com.