“Sandy Andy” & “Sunny Suzy” from the Wolverine Toy Company

Close up, Wolverine Toy Company
Close up of a Wolverine Toy Company toy on display in the Toys of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s exhibition.

The Wolverine Supply and Manufacturing Company, later known as the Wolverine Toy Company, produced children’s toys for nearly seven decades from its factory on the North Side of Pittsburgh.

Benjamin Franklin Bain, who studied mechanics and engineering at the The Michigan Agricultural College (which later became Michigan State University), founded the Wolverine Supply and Manufacturing Company in 1903. The company originally produced metal kitchen tools and household supplies, so he chose Pittsburgh, the hub of the metal industry during the early 20th century, as the company’s headquarters.

In 1909, the Wolverine Supply and Manufacturing Company obtained the Sand Toy Company and its signature line, “Sandy Andy” tin toys, as the result of a bankruptcy settlement. Over the next several decades, Wolverine evolved into an exclusive manufacturer of toys, expanding the “Sandy Andy” line and producing toys ranging from tin battleships to household appliances.

Like other toys of the era, Wolverine reinforced “traditional” gender roles through the production and marketing of gender-specific toys. For example, its line of home appliances called “Sunny Suzy” and “Little Queen” were created to appeal to young girls. Items such as racing or space-age themed pinball games and “career toys” were marketed to boys, encouraging “Junior in something that might later develop into his life’s work.”

Toys from Wolverine included the food to fill the appliances.
Wolverine Supply and Manufacturing Company was based on the North Side of Pittsburgh.

These products stayed true to the culture of the era, as Wolverine continually released revamped versions of its signature toys such as its refrigerators, which became available in a wide array of colors reflecting current style trends.

The manufacturer, which renamed itself the Wolverine Toy Company in 1962, mirrored societal change by updating playthings such as its giant super market toy, which replaced the earlier corner grocery store model.

In 1970, the Wolverine Toy Company moved from Pittsburgh to Booneville, Ark., before new ownership phased out its toy production entirely.

Visit the Toys of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s exhibition, open through May 31, 2016, to see toys from the museum’s Wolverine Toy Company collection, along with nearly 500 legendary toys, ranging from Barbie and Gumby to Hot Wheels and Star Wars.

Janine Kickler is a volunteer intern with the Communications department at the Heinz History Center.

13 thoughts on ““Sandy Andy” & “Sunny Suzy” from the Wolverine Toy Company

    1. I found a three piece toy doll house dresser set with mirror in celluloid marked wolverline booneville but can’t find any info on it. Thanks for sharing the fascinating info on this company

    2. Do you mean the buildings at the corner 1200 Western Ave and Fontella Street? If so, I’d love to chat with you. (My family bought it from Wolverine, and owned it for over 40 years.).

  1. We played with a Wolverine dish cupboard, but have to say I have a picture of my brother playing with it alongside myself! Was able to find one in really nice shape on the internet for future generations!

  2. Benjamin Bain was my grandfather’s Uncle and his namesake. My Grandpa Ben always spoke highly of his Uncle saying he was the one who encouraged him to succeed. Thank you for the article!

    1. Hi, Who was your grandfather? My name is Carl Church Bain. Ben was also my grandfathers uncle. Was your grandfather Benjamin Franklin Bain II?

  3. A unique and fascinating story about The Northside of Pittsburgh, Pa……………The complete history of the Wolverine Toy Company is available, in paperback, complete with over 400 illustrations, (over 300 different toys and games shown)…………….See facebook @ Vintage Wolverine Tin Mechanical Toys…………….Also http://www.TinTypeToys.com

  4. I have a toy iron, which plugs in and gets lukewarm, made by Wolverine Supply and Mfg Co. (Sunny Suzy) got as a gift for my 8th birthday – 67 years ago. I have treasured it all these years.

  5. I found a #54 hoop o loop!
    Can anyone tell me more about it! I have searched and found nothing!
    Thanks for any information!

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