Fun Ho! History

Fun Ho! History

This website is intended as a forum for New Zealand made toys.

We would like to write about and display as many brands as we can. Therefore we would appreciate any information you may have, i.e. place of origin, pictures of products, logos, packaging, etc.

Our aim is to preserve and share this historical side of New Zealand made toys for future generations.

Please e-mail me, Richard Jordan, if you can help in any way.

Do you have a favourite toy or a favourite toy collection?

A man called Mr Underwood loved making toys and he used to make them in his spare time many years ago in the basement of his garage. He started in 1935, first making them out of lead.

When it was found that lead was not a healthy metal, he changed to making his toys out of aluminium around 1940. These toys were very strong and many New Zealand boys and girls owned them. In the mid 1960's, another range of toys were produced, this time of a zinc alloy which were called Midget Diecast Toys, following the world-wide craze for this type of model overseas.

During the 1970s, over a million Fun Ho! toys were sold annually each year, but in the late 1970's, import restrictions were lifted and people started buying the cheaper imported toys which flooded the local market, instead of buying the Fun Ho! aluminium or diecast toys.

By 1982, toy production ceased and in 1987 the factory finally closed after over 50 years of manufacturing.

Since then only small quantities have been made as reproductions for the collector market.

Fun Ho! Logos

The first Logo was a Clown's face over the words "Fun Ho!" and is still a registered trademark today. A Clown holding a notice was also used, especially when the Fun Ho! National Museum opened in 1990. This became the main Logo until 1999.

From the re-opening of the Museum in the centre of Inglewood in 2000, the main Logo has been the #105 Fire Engine, a large replica of which is displayed on the roof for all to see.

The postage stamp issued about that time was a picture of the #161 Fire Engine, which is similar to the #105, but quite distinct to a collector and not to be confused!

Today the Fun Ho! toys are collector items and some are very valuable.

Barry Young

Barry Young, who worked for Mr Underwood for about 30 years had a big collection of Fun Ho! toys, and when the factory closed, he was given another big collection of toys rather than let them be melted down for scrap at 80 cents per kilogram.

With these toys, Barry Young opened the Fun Ho! National Toy Museum in Inglewood, Taranaki, which has about 3000 Fun Ho! toys as well as many other New Zealand made toys.

The biggest toy in the museum is 710mm long and the smallest cars are an Austin and Morris Mini which are each only 35mm long. The oldest is No. 1, a red and yellow fire engine pump.

Nearly every toy has a story and Barry can tell them all. One tip truck reached the museum after spending more than thirty years in a farm rubbish tip. Another, a tractor, was dug up after a house burned to the ground, and when new footings were being dug, the 1942 tractor was found.

Sometimes people bring in their old Fun Ho! toys for repair, and most spare parts for all sorts of these fine old New Zealand made toys are available today, so they can be repaired or restored to look just like new.

Some of Barry's favourites are the Mounted Soldier on horseback, made of lead, John Cobb's 400 m.p.h. racing car from the 1950's. and the Money Box Policeman, both made of aluminium.





Visit the National Toy Museum in Taranaki




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