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]

The Wheelmen

The Wheelmen

This elegant tribute to turn-of-the-century bicycling includes memorabilia, photographs, and an index of 3140 bicyc… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vtg 1960s Marx Toy Burp Gun #2212 Pull Back Bolt Action ~ Military ~ Nos/mocVintage Steelcraft Pressed Steel Graf Zeppelin Blimp 25" Pull Toy Original Us Zone Steiff Rabbit Pull ToyVintage 1950s Brio Familjen Tuff-tuff Wooden Toy Train With Original Box * NiceCast Iron Pull Toy - "baby" Speed Boat - 1932 By HubleyRare 1995 Toy Story Pull String Talking Woody Nib Think WayVery Rare Knickerbocker Easter Lamb Plastic Pull Toy In Original Box From 1959~vintage Fisher-price #51 Ducky Cart Pull Toy Easter 1950 One Year Only ~ Nice! Vintage Fisher Price Pull Toy 1954 Farm Truck With Cambell Kid Hard To Find!! Rosbro Vintage Hard Plastic Clown On Wheels Pull Toy Halloween1908 "pacing Bob" Wooden Toy Horse And Buggy/gibbs Toy FactoryOriginal 1941 Fisher Price Raggedy Ann & Andy Pull Toy #711 Missing PartsVtg Easter Hard Plastic Rosen Rosbro Duck W/ Six Shooter Pull Toy On WheelsVintage Elephant Pull Toy Cast Iron PatinaOld Wooden Chicken Rooster Pull Toy Wood Wheels Rare Vintage Fisher Price Pull Toy 318 Wooden Rabbit & Yellow Cart 1960sPrimitive Spring Rabbit Pull Toy~easter~eaam~Small Vintage Metal Greyhound WagonVintage Fisher Price #5 - Easter Bunny Rabbit With Cart Pull ToyAntique Small Tin Painted Elephant On Wheels Pull Toy Great Circus Collectible#3,147 Frankie Doodle Dog! Pull Toy With Bunny Easter Dachshund SculptureEarly Slush Toy U.s.n. Zeppelin Blimp 1930sVintage Childs WagonDisney Toy Story Talking Pull String Lot - 16" Woody & 14" Jessie W Hats PlushVintage Rosbro Hard Plastic Valentine Bobble Head Girl Pull Toy N.r. Auction !!Vintage Fisher Price Katy Kackler The Red Hen Pull ToyCast Iron Bell Pull Toy All Original 4 1/2" WheelsSnoopy Peanuts Toy Bus, Sound Lights Pull Back Action, Sun Hing Toys, New In Box% 1940's Seaver Toy Co. Wooden Air Plaine 18 Inches LongLand Rover Range Rover Model Cars 1:32 Suv Pull Back Alloy Diecast Toys Red GiftVintage Easter Plastic Blow Mold Pull Toy Swan Hatching Chick Easter DecorationVtg Germany Erzgebirge Wooden Rabbit & Chick Pull Toy Figurine Flower Easter Peter Rabbit Easter Tin Litho By J.chen Pull Toy Cragstan Wacky Melon Vanda Plastic Pull Toy Hong Kong String Crazy Fun Time WardVtg Bunny Pip Squeak Pull Toy Easter Erziberge Germany PutzAntique 1920s Tom Toy Tinkers Wood Crib Pull Doll Evanston Illinois Wooden2 Transparent Pull Back Action Retro Friction Fighter Toy Plane LotWooden Train Engine Pull ToyVintage Reproduction Jumbo The Elephant Xylophone Pull Toy 1/32 Diecast Model Car Maserati Gt Toys Collections Sound&light Pull Back WhiteWhitman's Chocolates 40's Christmas Advertising Decoration Santa By Dolly ToyAntique Authentic Black Americana Wooden Pull Toy – Boy On DonkeyWiggly Woofer 1957 Vintage Fisher Price Wooden Pull Toy #640 Red Dog RareDisney Toy Story Talking Pull String Cowgirl Jessie DollFisher Price Big Bill Pelican Pull Toy - 1961Vintage 1950's Fisher Price Duck Family Wood DucksLot Of 4 Vintage Pull ToysVintage Antique Whistle Pull Toy Tin Metal Spinning Noise MakerSolid Copper Begleri Bullet Shaped Toy "worry Beads" Lanyard Bead Zipper PullVintage Walk-a-long Easter Donald Duck Pull Toy Holiday DecorationsTeddy Zilo Pull Toy Fisher PriceVintage Revell Maxwell Action Pull Toy Car With Wire Cable And Thumb TriggerBrio Wooden Pull Toy White Horse Toddler Toy6x Mini Cars Trucks Model Pull Back Vehicle For Baby Kid Children Toys Ke6pcs/set Mini Pull Back Model Plastic Car Truck Vehicle Toys For Baby Kid ChildModel Cars Metro Subway Train Toys Alloy Diecast Sound&light Pull Back Function6pcs Classic Boy&girl Truck Vehicle Kids Child Toy Mini Pull Back Car Funny Set6x Mini Cars Trucks Model Pull Back Vehicle For Baby Kid Children Toys KeBaby Kids Child 8-note Mini Xylophone Child Pull-along Musical Development ToyVintage Mlp G-1 My Little Pony ~ Sweet Dreams Crib Duck Pull Toy ~ Aqua Wheels