|TOPPER CORPORATION HISTORY|
|Finding details about this once famous toy manufacturer has been fun and challenging even from searching the web. Various sources are compiled below.
I cannot promise that all the links will be current, so if you do find an interesting one, save it for your records, or print a hard copy.
The "Deluxe Reading Company" was a novelty dealer selling mainly to grocery stores. In 1964 their successful Topper novelty I m not sure exactly what this product was--propelled the company into expansion and subsequent name change to "Topper Toys." At some point the company incorporated and was traded publicly, as I found stock certificates from the Topper Corporation dated May, 1973. The headquarters and the main manufacturing plant were located in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The President/CEO was Henry Orenstein (b. 1923- ). Amid allegations of corporate misdealing and subsequent legal action, the corporation declared bankruptcy in 1973.
In the 1969 Topper Catalog which was distributed to toy vendors, there are several pages boasting of the multimillion dollar advertising campaign planned for that toy year. I have included one 'brag page' on this site and one 'brag letter', but there are others in the dealer catalog I have. Please check these out, but give them plenty of time to load if you are on 56K Modem as they are graphic intensive (in order to be just legible). This grandiose spending may well have been the main contributor to the rapid demise of the company.
**4/7/2004--new information. On Ebay, a 1971 Topper Dealer catalog sold for $127.50. The Advertising budget had increased to $13.5 million and most importantly, NOT ONE OF THE 96 PAGES OF THE BEAUTIFUL, GLOSSY PRINT CATALOG, listed our beloved Motorized Monster Maker Kits. The seller emailed me and promised that there were no ads for this toy in the catalog. Now, I am looking for the 1970 Dealer catalog, to see if they are listed there.
**July 19,2004** The missing piece has been found, a 1970 Topper Dealer catalog, did have only 1 page of advertisement for the beloved Monster Maker Kits! :-( I was not able to get the prices from the former Topper Employee who was selling his old catalogs. They must not have done well enough to re-supply in 1971, as I am sure the shelves were still brimming with unsold monster kits from at least 1969 and ?1970. The 1971 Catalog did NOT have any advertisements for the Kits....More information when it comes available!
October 29, 2004: Steve emailed some pictures of an unused kit he won at a Toy Auction, which was made exclusively for Zayre's department store. He was not sure what year it was from, but it features the mysterious ROBOT monster kit!!! Please click here for more information about the kit and Zayre's department store.
Apparently from the fallout of the Topper collapse, Mr. Orenstein divorced and remarried. His second wife encouraged him to write a book, I Shall Live, Surviving Against All Odds 1939-1945, released in 1976, which is about his Holocaust experience. I purchased this book and my wife and I read it. There is a picture and VERY INTERESTING caption from this book at a Dawn Doll website. This paragraph on p. 266 provides compelling evidence that he is indeed the former President of Topper Toys, though he doesn t specifically mention this in his book--and certainly no details of the decade as Topper CEO. Incidentally, he wrote another book, Abram, The Life of an Israeli Patriot, which was released in 1999. I have not read this book yet. I recently read an editorial written by him in March 2002 regarding impending war with Iraq.
There is also very interesting article of an interview with a Topper officer if once again you don't mind entering the world of Dawn Dolls. Also, it seems to be missing page 2.
There is another interesting article posted on several sites re: the attempted coup by Topper's Johnny Lightning against the giant Mattel Hotwheels dynasty, involving millions of dollars in promotions, advertising and even celebrities like Al Unser.
Among the many famous toys manufactured by Topper were: Johnny Lightning die-cast metal cars, Johnny Toymaker, Dawn dolls, Ding-a-Lings and Suzy Homemaker.
*The only Topper toy I distinctly remember is the one and only Motorized Monster-Maker Kit to which this website is dedicated.*
Inside cover of Dealer Catalog with picture of Elizabeth, NJ Headquarters and Letter
Full page display in Dealer Catalog 1969 outlining TV Advertising budget