Confusing Tin CowboysBy

Confusing Tin Cowboys

A new metal Roy Rogers windup toy is a close copy of a series of vintage cowboy character toys first introduced in 1938. The original windup horse and rider toy was made by the American toy company of Louis Marx. Action in both new and old toys is the same. Horizontal arms in the base rock the toy forward and back while the lasso spins around the cowboys' heads.

Original toys were made in two licensed character variations, Hopalong Cassidy (shown in Fig. 2) and The Lone Ranger. A generic cowboy figure Marx named Range Rider was also produced.

A variation of the basic design used the same dies to make a freestanding horse and rider without the rocking base. You can distinguish original freestanding figures from figures originally mounted to rocker bases by the location of the Marx trademark. On original rocker base toys, the Marx trademark is on the horizontal surface of the base directly below the horse's tail. On original freestanding toys, the Marx trademark appears on the horse. If you find a horse and rider alone with no trademark, it was most likely originally attached to rocker base.

Although the new toy with Roy Rogers' name is virtually identical in size, actions and shape to Marx originals, a vintage Roy Rogers version of this toy was never made by Marx. The first toy in this shape to carry the Roy Rogers name is this new reproduction.

The new Roy Rogers version is made in China for Schylling Toys, an American toy company. The base of new toys is permanently marked with the Schylling trademark of a running child.

New Roy Rogers toys sell for $25-$30 retail. Original Hopalong Cassidy and Lone Ranger rocker versions sell for about $450-$550 in very good condition. Freestanding versions usually bring $200-$300.

When handled in person, there is probably little chance this toy easily be mistaken for old. But viewed online it might be mistaken for a vintage piece if the buyer isn't aware no vintage Roy Rogers version was ever made.

Suggested reading: Felbinger, L. The Lone Ranger, 1998, and: Coyle, P. Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Toys and Memorabilia, 2000.


Fig. 1 New Roy Rogers tin windup toy is marked Schylling Toys.


Figs. 2-4
Fig. 2 (Left) Original tin windup figure by Louis Marx, ca. 1938. This is Hopalong Cassidy. No Roy Rogers version was ever made by Marx. All Roy Rogers toys like this are new. Fig. 3 (Center) Original versions of these toys have the Marx trademark which includes Made in USA. The trademark appears on the horizontal surface of the rocker base version and on the horse in the freestanding version. Fig. 4 (Right) The freestanding version of the horse and rider, without the rocking base, has the Marx trademark on the horse.