One man’s Trouble is another man’s joy. That has never been truer than when it comes to the Kohner Family’s success in the toy industry. Featuring the unforgettable Pop-o-Matic in the center of the board, the iconic game, Trouble, has brought fun for decades to millions the worl
One man’s Trouble is another man’s joy. That has never been truer than when it comes to the Kohner Family’s success in the toy industry. Featuring the unforgettable Pop-o-Matic in the center of the board, the iconic game, Trouble, has brought fun for decades to millions the world over. But Trouble is neither the beginning nor the end of the Kohner toy legend. While the Kohner path to toys can be traced back to the middle 1800s, with a family heritage in woodworking, it really began in 1940, when Paul Kohner left his hometown of Tachau, Czechoslovakia, and came to the United States to escape the Nazis. Two years later, he would get his younger brother, Frank, out of danger as well. Paul and Frank formed Kohner Bros, in New York City, during World War II. Before expanding into toys, they manufactured wooden beads and beaded purses, a wartime fashion rage. The first Kohner toys took the form of beads and craft sets. These items evolved into wooden pull toys such as Tricycle Tom and Ice Cream Mike. From there, the business quickly progressed. And for the next 35 years, would make millions of the Baby Boomer classic Push Button Puppets, Tricky Trapeze and other toys and games. They would revolutionize an entire segment of the industry with an infant activity toy called the Busy Box. Paul directed the manufacturing, operations and production for the company. Frank steered the business administration and product selection process. But they were equal partners and worked very closely together on all aspects of the company. “Paul was a tough task master. We were very busy all the time. But it was a family. And we were all part of it.” Al Stubbmann, age 87, Kohner Bros VP R&D for 25+ years With a new state-of-the-art 150,000 square foot factory under construction in New Jersey, the family business was booming when Paul died suddenly, in 1965. His passing stunned the family and community. Paul’s son, Michael (then just 22 years old) joined the company to help fill the void. While it was impossible to fill Paul Kohner’s shoes, Michael stepped into his new role and quickly began making his own positive impact. He took over international licensing for the company, expanding those activities dramatically around the world. Within five years, Kohner Brothers continued to grow and was sold to General Foods. Frank retired from the toy business leaving Michael as the last Kohner. In 1974, General Foods realizing Kohner made products that last generations versus foods which was consumed daily sold the business to Gabriel Industries. At that point, Michael decided that it was time to continue the Kohner legacy and made his mark over the last 40 plus years with the Michael Kohner Corporation. Frank would go on to launch a successful housewares business and published a collection of anecdotes and memories of the people in the old country, “Tachau Tales” in 1995. He lived to be 100 years old and died in 2011.
HOW TO MAKE SURE YOU’RE BUYING SAFE TOYS THIS CHRISTMAS
THE 20th ANNUAL CHICAGO TOY & GAME FAIR RESUMES IN-PERSON EVENT ON DECEMBER 10 & 11, 2022
Book Review: A World Without Reality: Inside Marvin Glass’s Toy Vault by Bill Paxton
CLICS Toys is Serving Spaghetteez!
Out of Breakdowns Come Breakthroughs
Be a Part of the Future of Play
Designing a Game with Manufacturing in Mind: A conversation between a new inventor and a manufacturer
Emergent Strategist or Master Planner?
Never Stop Playing and Grow our Industry!!
tBR Columnist Tim Kilpin Answers Questions about Interns, Awards and Toy Game NPD Data
Randy Klimpert Shares his Ukulele Collection
Steve Casino Peanut Art
Everyone's Talking about POP!
Princess Etch - a Multi-Talented Etch A Sketch Artist
Joseph Herscher of Joseph' s Machines.
Ed Gartin is... the Evel Knievel of Inventor Relations!
Hidden Role: The Brains Behind your Favorite Games - Matt Leacock talks Game Design...
Nicholas and Rebecca are BlueMatter Games!
Tanya Thompson is Hasbro's Game Scout!
Matt Nuccio took over the "Family Business"... of Toys!
Will Shortz and Josh Wardle POP Duo
POP Duo: Elan Lee, Co-Founder, Exploding Kittens.and Jeff Probst, Host and Exec Producer, Survivor
POP Duo: David Fuhrer, MNG Director, Blue Sq Innovations & Shawn Green, past Dodgers & Mets MLB Star
POP Duo: Bob Fuhrer, Founder, Nextoy and Tom Fazio, Golf Course Designer
POP Trio Leaders and Legends: Michele Litzky, Jim Pressman and Tom Kalinske. Hosted by Chris Byrne
Toy Inventors--The Heart and Soul of the Industry
Brian Turtle: 'Endless' Stories, Advice, Kevin Bacon and More! tBR Person of the Week
Jonathan Levy on Jon2.0 - from Co-Founding Mastermind Toys to Spin Master
Andrew Perlmutter's Journey from Glencoe to Funko with Crazy Ideas that turned out Golden
Tait & Lily, Inventors of Betcha Can't!