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Image by MANHATTAN Analysis INC
MOBO TOYS’ were made by D. SEBEL & CO., ERITH, KENT, ENGLAND from 1947 to 1972.
David Sebel had emigrated from Russia circa 1912 and set up in partnership as a Wheelwright in East London in 1921. In 1928 he moved the Company to Lant Street in the Borough, London S.E.1 with the take more than of a firm, Hazeldine & Norton, of Wheelwright’s & Motor Physique and Van Builders. Interestingly the residence next to the premises had been the residence of Charles Dickens when his parents were in the Marshalsea Debtor’s Prison.
In the 1930’s they expanded into Architectural metalwork and other engineering projects. Also creating street cleaning carts, milk churns and fronts for Cinemas. In 1931 Harry Sebel, David’s son, joined the firm starting from the bottom up. During the Second Globe War the Company turned over to war function and a number of nearby premises have been utilised for their production of aircraft and tank components, bunks for air raid shelters, bailey bridge components and even a tower for an experimental radar station.
In the early 1940’s Harry was looking to the future and realised that they’re would be a need to have to expand the company and uncover perform for the existing workforce and these which had been called up. Right after much study it was decided to go into metal furniture, below the Trade name Stak-a-Bye and into the toy enterprise. But what to make which would be distinct from any individual else. Harry had the notion of a Rocking Horse which the rider could propel along themselves. Basic plans were drawn up and a complete size horse mock up was created employing bicycle gears. To get an concept of what the completed solution would look like a Taxidermist in Piccadilly was approached for a horse hide, the only point he had was from a Zebra so that was employed. The prototype Zebra was still around at the Erith factory for many years. A Patent was taken out in 1942 for the standard mechanism. Later Charles Morewood, RA was commissioned to sculpt the clay physique of what became the Mobo Bronco. The steel furniture organization was set up in 1946 from the Weller Street side of the premises, a name which was utilised at the Erith factory to denote the furnishings production building.
The Lant Street premises had been not going to be huge sufficient for the toy and furnishings enterprise envisaged and so the ex Vickers Gun Operates at 177, West Street, Erith, Kent were bought in February, 1947. As the intention was to produce everything in-home from the arrival of the raw material to the completed product, the full kitting out of the factory with massive presses, dip tanks, spray booths, and so on. took a although. Toy production did not commence at Erith till September, 1947. Even so, some toys had been assembled at Lant Street, created by outdoors contractor’s, to allow a show at the British Industries Fair in Could,1947. The other toys on show had been Merry Go Round,Rocker Swing, Chair Desk and Roll-a-Bye Skates.
The name ‘Mobo’ came from a brain-storming session when ‘Mobile Toys’ had been rejected. The clown on the decal was due to an interest in the Circus by the David Sebel. The Circus theme was employed in a lot of their Exhibition Stands and advertising. A tin clown was created but never went into production. It would have been an early Action Man!. Later marketing and instruction sheets utilized the Mobo title as two characters ‘Mr Mo’ and ‘Miss Bo’.
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The most effectively known toy is the BRONCO, the ride-on horse. It operates by the rider sitting on the horse and pushing down on the stirrups, then releasing them and then the horse moves along. From 1947 to 1950 the Bronco could only be steered in a straight line, but in February, 1950 Magic Steering was introduced. This enabled the rider by pushing on either stirrup to move the horse in that path. The Broncho was so well-known that it stayed in production till 1971.
The physique pressings had been also utilized for a series of other toys SPRING HORSE (PRAIRIE KING), Evening RIDER, PRAIRIE PRANCER, Range RIDER two distinct varieties created, ROCKING HORSE, & BRONCHO MERRY GO ROUND.
The colours came from ‘market research’ with the local school young children at West Street School – yellow and red being the favourite. These kids have been also used for photo shoots for marketing and testing the toys.
In 1949 the ‘Walking SNAIL’ was introduced at the New York Toy Fair, also at the exact same fair the ‘PONY’ was first shown. The ‘Pony’ pressings went on to be utilised on a number of distinct toys – PONY ROCKER, PIONEER WAGON, PONY EXPRESS, PONY KART, PONY BUGGY, SURREY TROTTER, TODDLE PONY. 1948 also saw the introduction of the very first little remote handle walking toy – the TOY-TOISE. This was a great achievement not just for kids, but also adults, as they have been utilised for Toy-toise races at several parties. The SPANIEL – at very first sold as PUPPY – and SPANIEL followed with the identical mechanism, also a CANOE.
The American Market was an amazing success for the MOBO Business. In 1948 they exported to the USA half of the total toy exports of ALL British Toy Companies. At this time Britain was recovering from the Second Planet War and steel was rationed according to the quantity of goods exported. Mobo never ever had any problems acquiring supplies due to the fact of their exceptional export record. A New York office had been opened in 1948 at the Breslin Building, Broadway, New York and an American subsidiary formed Sebel Items Inc. Other significant markets were Australia and South Africa.
A Showroom & Office had been opened at 39/41 New Oxford Street, London W.C.1 in September, 1945.
Other toys created integrated Prams, Bicycles, Desks, Wheelbarrows, Rockers, Swings, Scooters and from 1956 Pedal Cars.
In 1951 Harry & David emigrated to Australia and set up a factory at Bankstown, Sydney. Here they developed both Toys and Furnishings. The elements have been shipped from Erith and assembled and painted at Bankstown. The Australian firm decided in 1957 to concentrate on the furnishings organization and so toy production was stopped. The furniture company nonetheless goes on nowadays as component of the GWA International Group, and they have just opened a branch in the United Kingdom.
In 1955 the Toy Boat company of Harold Flory Ltd., of Bromley, Kent was taken more than. They made the SNIPE, SWIFT, ST. CHRISTOPHER Motor Boats, the SPRITE YACHT, and the SNORT SUBMARINE, also Toy Vehicles. The boats had been continued in production by Mobo’s.
Jetex, the Model Aircraft Engine business was bought in 1956. In addition to a variety of Jet propelled engines they also made model kits for aircraft and a plastic boats and vehicles for the Jetex engine.
The mid 1960’s saw an introduction of toys made from injection moulded plastic and the importation of a variety of plastic Pedal vehicles from Pines of Italy. These incorporated a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Pedal Automobile. A variety of bicycles was also imported from Italy.
By the late 1960’s the British toy market was having a hard time due to low cost imports from the Far East. When John Bentley of Barclay Securities produced an provide to purchase the Business in 1970 it was taken up. The Barclay Toy Group was formed to which Chad Valley, Charles Methuen and Tri-ang were added in 1971. Sadly the overheads of the Group meant that losses had been nevertheless getting produced and a key reorganisation took place in 1972 with the Erith Functions being closed and all production of all Mobo Toys ceasing. The website is now a big housing estate.