Pull toys are the simplest type of moving toys, powered entirely by the user. Usually on wheels, these toys range from wooden animals to cast-iron bell toys to little red wagons. Often they are pulled by a length of cord or rope, and many pull toys have holes in them for this purpose. Some pull toys, though, are meant to be played with on the floor, as the child kneels and crawls about, pushing and pulling circus trains, motorcycles, and other kid-powered vehicles through living rooms and hallways.

Many of the earliest pull toys were carved and painted wooden animals that rode on simple platforms, the ends of which were supported by a wooden axle and pair of wheels. Sometimes the painting on these toys was realistic, accurately depicting, for example, the mane of a horse or the feathers of a duck, but many more wooden pull toys were crudely made, having more in common with a piece of wooden folk art than something you’d purchase at Toy “R” Us.

While some animal toys stood or sat on platforms, others could be pulled around thanks to wheels mounted to their feet. These dogs, lambs, goats, horses, lions, and bears were often covered in fur, with glass eyes for added realism. Lines Brothers of England made such pull-alongs, as did Steiff, whose toys were advertised as “High Class Riding animals.”

Some of the most famous wooden pull toys were made in the 1930s by Fisher-Price and LEGO. The LEGO duck was released in 1935 by a Danish carpenter named Ole Kirk Kristiansen. Though plainly painted in red, gray, and black, the bird’s beak opened and closed when the toy was pulled, encouraging the child to play with it. Other early LEGO pull toys such as a pony pulling a blue trap featured wheels made out of LEGO yo-yos, whose parts were repurposed when the yo-yo craze of the 1930s fizzled.

LEGO also made pull-along cats and roosters, whose markings were painted using stencils, as well as a brown monkey with a blue wagon-like tray behind him. Like the duck, the monkey was animated when pulled—in this case, a lever attached to the toy’s front wheels caused the simian’s body to move forward and back.

Cast iron and tin were also popular materials for pull toys. In the United States, the Gong Bell Manufacturing Company of East Hampton, Connecticut, made cast-iron toys that were nothing more than a pair of wheels with a bell between them that chimed when the toy was pulled. Gong Bell also made four-wheeled toys that were basically platforms for animals such as eagles, bears, and bells that would ring when the toy was pulled. Another Connecticut toy maker was J. E. Stevens, which produced a cast-iron cart that carried a swan whose wings flapped, while Lehmann of Germany and Rossignol of France made tinplate pull toys that featured ostriches hauling African mail carriers or a Japanese man bearing a woman in a rickshaw.

But perhaps the simplest and most enduring pull toy is the wagon. The forerunner to the Radio Flyer wagon was the No. 4 Liberty Coaster, a wooden wagon with steel framing and wheels. Introduced in 1923 and hand built by company founder, Antonio Pasin, and his small crew, these wooden-body wagons soon gave way to stamped steel ones, which were painted fire-engine red. In the 1950s, Radio Flyer made wagons for Walt Disney, branded with the logos for the Mickey Mouse Club and Davy Crockett. By the 1960s, though, wood was back, as Radio Flyer released its Town & Country wagon, whose slatted side could be removed to give the wagon a versatile, flat bed.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Museum of Childhood

Museum of Childhood

Embrace your inner child on this website from the Victoria and Albert Museum, filled with high-quality images and i… [read review or visit site]

Most watched eBay auctions    

1920s J. Chein Tin Felix/crazy Cat W/glasses Pull Toy Scooter Early Great Litho1/64 Scratch Built Allis Chalmers All Crop 90 Pull Type Combine Custom Farm ToyAntique 1917 Moxie Tin Lithograph Horsemobile Pull Toy Very RareC1910 Strunz? Sheep/lamb On Wheels Straw Stuffed Pull Toy Glass EyesAntique Cast Iron Mechanical Cat Teasing Dog Doghouse Pull Toy J & E Stevens?Ww2-1942-fisher Price-circus Wagon No 156-disney Like Litho-14" Vintage Pull ToyDie Cast Iron Railroad Train Steam Engine Locomotive Tender Car Pull Penny Toy1954 Fisher Price Gold Star Stagecoach No 175 N-mint W Org Box-pull ToyAntique Victorian Primitive Horse On Platform With Wheels Pull Toy C.190050s 60s J Chein Vintage Tin Litho Teeter Cat Pull Toy Felix The Cat Character1933 Fisher Price Pushy Pat-no 515-dog Engineer Vintage Pull Toy-12"Toy Story Pull String Talking Woody Doll 16" - Disney Store Exclusive *new*1932 Fisher Price Chubby Chief No 110-vintage Pull Toy-elephant-very Rare !!Fine Early 20c Wood & Pressed Tin & Cast Iron Animated Horse Drawn Cart Pull ToyStamm Horse~pull Toy~vintage-style Santa Riding~by: Jean T. Littlejohn1948 Fisher Price Musical Elephant No 145-leatherette Ears-all Org-w Music-toyDisney Toy Story Talking Woody Sheriff 16" Pull String DollEarly 20th Century 31" Steelcraft Graf Zeppelin Pressed Steel Pull Toy Blimp Tally-ho Coack And Team By Bliss, C.1920Vintage Steiff Cat Pull Toy On Wheels, 1950s With Tag, Ear Button, Excellent1941 Fisher Price American Airlines Flagship Airplane-wood Vintage Toy-21"w-spanVintage German Wood Noah's Ark Pull Toy Play Set 42 Pieces Wooden Animals No RsvMiniature Dollhouse Replica Antique American Paint Horse Pull Toy Barbara Cooper1938 N.n. Hill Brass Co.vintage Ferdinand The Bull Wood & Metal Pull Toy W/ Bell1951 Reuhl Agco Massey Harris Pull Type Clipper Combine Farm Toy Custom Parts Fisher Price 1954 #175 Gold Star Stagecoach W/ Mail PouchesAntique Penny Toy Male Circus Lion On Ornate Platform Tin Hand Painted Pull Toy Lot Of 7 Antique Childs Bell Pull Toys Some "gong"Unique Santa W/ Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer ~ Wood Jointed Pull Toy ~ JaymarToy Story Original Pull String Talking Woody Doll - Thinkway 1995 RareFisher Price 1961 #169 Snorky Fire Engine W/ Early Red & White Little PeopleVtg 50's-60's Carter Tru-scale Rockford Il Combine Pull Farm Toy W/box C-406New Amf Pedal Car Chrome Spinner Hub Caps (set Of4)Fisher Price 1960 #234 Nifty Station Wagon W/ Early Little PeopleRumely Oil Pull ToyFisher Price 1953 #750 Space Blazer - NiceVintage Ac Williams #7767 Cast Iron Road Scraper Or Grader, 6 Inch Pull ToyFisher Price 1941 #444 Fuzzy Fido - NiceAntique Paper Mache Boy Riding Rooster Pull ToyFisher Price 1941 #477 Doctor DoodleToy Story Woody And Jessie 16" Pull String Thinkway1940 Fisher Price Woofy Wowser Dog No 700- Made Only 1 Year-vintage Pull ToyFisher Price Big Bill Pelican Wood Pull Toy Fp 794 Vintage 1960's Free Ship UsaFisher Price 1939 #472 Peter Bunny CartToy Story Lot! Pull String Woody, Jessie, And Buzz Lightyear! All Talk, Work!Fisher Price #711 Teddy Trucker 1949-1951 UsedVintage Fisher Price No. 20 Scottie Dog Pull Toy~1940'sNew Max Tow Truck Pull 200 Lbs Toy Gift Jakks Pacific Boy Blue 2014Vintage 1950's Radio Flyer Wagon Large Size... Firestone Wheels Very Good Cond..Rosbro Four Santa On Sled With Green Wheels Pull Toy - RareToy Train "thomas And Friends" "diesel" Take-n-play Pull-n-zoomFisher- Price Vintage Looky Fire Truck # 7 Wood 1950'sMario Kart Pull Back Toy Cars - Set Of 6 Mario/luigi/princess/toad/bowser/dkVintage 1940s N.n. Hill Brass Company Teddy Bang Bell Pull Toy- Extremely Rare!!Vintage Wyandotte Toys Pressed Steel Mini WagonVintage Antique Wood Wooden Pull Toy 3 Three Little Pigs Animated LegsDisney Pixar Talking Pull String Woody And Jessie Toy Story Dolls Not WorkingVintage Antique 1950's Fisher Price Gran'pa Frog Pull ToyToy Story - Disney 16" Woody Pull String Talking Thinkway Doll W/ Cowboy HatVintage Tin Toy Monkey Bicycle Toy!!! J Fred Muggs By N.n Hill Brass Co.