Out and out nostalgia
With 750 pages in this chunky book it probably features eight hundred toys. They seem to be part of the Tom Beck Toy Museum in Branson, Missouri (the world's largest collection?). This would explain why nearly all of them are American though many could be manufactured elsewhere in the world. There are no Corgi or Dinky toys from England, Lego from Denmark or Schuco from Germany.
The biggest selection concentrates on all sorts of transport, surely the mainstay of any boy's fun, even these days. Little girls get a look in with Barbie, Teddy Ruxpin, Raggedy Anne, Cabbage Patch, Kewpie and paper dolls and toy kitchen sets.
The book is basically visual with large photos of the toys, I found this a bit overwhelming because sometimes the enlargements are two or three times life size. A feature of Beck's museum is that he kept them in the original play condition so a lot of toys from decades ago look quite beat up and very large on the page. Spreads frequently show one toy from several angles and nicely all of them, throughout the book, are presented as cutouts. Oddly, there are no original boxes anywhere. A pristine box can greatly increase the toys value but I think the book is really nostalgia rather than a collector's guide.
Don't be fooled by the word 'Directory' in the title. There is no index or bibliography and the text on each page is very brief and generalized. The book is certainly not as comprehensive as the excellent Timeless Toys: Classic Toys and the Playmakers Who Created Them or The Story of American Toys, from the Puritans to the Present but if you want a huge coffee table book, nicely designed and full of big photos of toys from yesteryear Wallace and Wexler's publication can't be beat.
Two other books that are comprehensive histories of the subject.
A stunning streamline bike.
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