November 19, 2013

Rockytoy Story

M V Gopalan founded a great wooden toy manufacturer in Madras, southern India, in 1942. It was first called Modern Agencies, but it came to be called Rockytoy because they were making rocking horses that everyone wanted. The scale of this popularity is kind of hard to gauge. In telling the story, Prof. MP Ranjan, Gopalan's son, talks about toys disappearing from the shelf the day they are made. So it's literally a cottage/storefront business. I think they dissolved in the 1980s.

rockytoy_jeeps_ranjan.jpg

But it sure sounds iconic enough, a local Chennai version of Brio, if not the Brio of the entire nation. Anyway, the history of the company is recounted in various posts on Prof. Ranjan's blog. I will merely point out that Rockytoy made these sturdy jeeps and trucks, redesigned by Ranjan for easier, quicker production in 1974. Now kids could sit on them as well as push them around.

rockytoy_table_ranjan.jpg

This table and chair was created for the school and daycare market, which offered a new source of business for Rockytoy: educational toys and manipulatives. I think there is a Donald Duck on there, but it's cool anyway.

rockytoy_ranjan_1.jpg

Here is the Rockytoy clan, with Papa Gopalan in the middle, posing among their diverse, brightly colored products. Perhaps you can visit Prof. Ranjan's site, study his images, and start cranking out your own Madras-style mementos for the kid in your copious spare time.

Rockytoy Story: microenterprise [design-for-india]
Rockytoy Story 2: design strategy
Rockytoy Story 3: educational resources

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