I'm very pleased to welcome Kent Sprecher as a guest on the BMC Toys blog. Kent is the owner and proprietor of Toy Soldier HQ, and one of the most knowledgeable folks around when it comes to plastic toy figures. His site is a mix of information along with a selection of vintage and current production available for purchase. - Jeff at BMC Toys
One of the producers of plastic army men in the 1950s, 60s & 70s was the Multiple Products Corporation better known as simply MPC by collectors. They came into business after WWII and were in operation by 1950. They displayed a puzzle game “Ten Yen” at the March1950 American Toy Fair. By the 1954 time frame they were located at 55 West 13th Street in New York City with Marvin Ross as their president. They also set up a subsidiary in Canada known a Multiple Toys. Like other companies they may have been selling plastic items in several markets but they were selling toys by 1955.
Among the first figures they made were copies of Tim-Mee Toys Indians and “ring hand” Ramar of the Jungle African natives and a big game hunter. They took the idea of using clip on accessories from the line of PECOs figures made earlier in the 1950s. They continued to add more “ring hand” figures to their lineup including pirates, farmers, Revolutionary War, Civil War and WWII themes. Mostly sold in header card bags, blister cards or small plastic cases (totters), but they did make play sets as well to compete with toy king Louis Marx & Co.
By the end of the 1950s competition from cheaper Asian markets caused companies to open factories in Hong Kong, Taiwan and or Japan and many started going out of business. In 1963 Marx came out with WWII German and Japanese toy soldiers and Lido and MPC quickly followed suit. Kids went nuts and bought millions as they finally had bad guys for their US troops to whip. Lido was sold in 1964 and their German & Japanese molds disappeared leaving MPC to duke it out with Marx.
The new MPC Germans and Japanese were not “ring hands” but had their weapons integrally molded the same as Marx. They also made US & Russian toy soldiers with integral weapons. It seems the ring hand figures were phased out during this time period. Plasticraft has the MPC ring hand GIs in their 1965 catalog and may have bought the mold. They had purchased molds from both Archer and Renwal. In 1965 having financial issues MPC was sold to the Loral Corporation who made components for rockets and other space gear. They had been looking to buy unrelated businesses to expand their market. Packaging was now marked MULTIPLE PRODUCTS CO. A DIVISION OF THE LORAL CORPORATION. They quickly realized they knew nothing about toys and in 1967 they sold MPC to Miner Industries. Packaging was now marked MULTIPLE PRODUCTS CORP A DIVISION OF MINER INDUSTRIES. They also started using MULTIPLE TOYS on packaging and eventually phased out the Multiple Products name.
In 1979 Miner Industries declared bankruptcy emerging with a new partner TOY MAJOR. Packaging was now marked MINER INDUSTRIES or TOY MAJOR or both names or no company identification at all. About 1985 they went out of business and American Plastic Equipment Inc. owned by Jay Horowitz bought the molds. Mr. Horowitz had also purchased many of the former Marx molds when they closed in 1980. He started ReMarx to try and bring back the Marx line of toys. Many of the Marx figure molds were not available so the exMPC American & German infantry were used in his “Marx” WWII playsets.
Multiple Products Corp. was not the only company with MPC initials. One that has caused some confusion for collectors was the Model Products Corporation that was located in Mt. Clemens MI. Started in 1963 they made a range of plastic kit model cars. In 1970 they were bought by General Mills who in the later 1970s put all of their toy & hobby products in a separate group, the CPG Product Group Corporation. The MPC model kits were marketed as part of CPG's Fundimensions Division. In 1982-84 British company Airfix was also owned by General Mills and it was decided to make some of their "HO" scale figures sets here in the US and sell them as MPC Fundimensions products. Most collectors including myself just thought the MPC stood for Multiple Products until we found out about Model Products Corp.
AD picture with MPC Canoes was from the March 1955 PLAYTHINGS magazine:
- Kent Sprecher, Toy Soldier HQ
The BMC Toys Classic Army Men Collection will be adding some MPC reissues to the lineup in 2020 including Farm Animals, .50 Caliber Machine Guns, DUKW Amphibious vehicle, and we've just released the MPC WW2 German Soldier Reissues:
Here's some links to more information about MPC:
1976 Multiple Toys Catalog: http://www.plaidstallions.com/multiple/1976.html
ToySoldierHQ MPC Pages: http://www.angelfire.com/biz/toysoldierhq/MPC1.html
ToyMemories.com Multiple Toymakers: http://toymemories.com/multipletoymakers.html
ToyMemories.com MPC figures: http://www.toymemories.com/mpcfigures.html