November 25, 2006

Molded Plywood Week Coming In For A Landing With The Creative Playthings Playtown Airfield


I know it's barely scratched the surface, so the last post of this ad hoc, Molded Plywood Week at DT will be a link-filled roundup of all the molded ply goods and gear that have already been on the site.

But this last new-to-me product is also the one that started it all: this incredible--and incredibly simple--aircraft hangar, which was part of one of Creative Playthings' most popular lines, the Playtown toy & building series. It's awesome, one small but impressive step up from playing with an empty cardboard box.

The Playtown Airfield came with a slew of wooden planes and ground equipment as well as a playmat, but the hangar was the distinguishing touch. The inner workings of CP are maddeningly under-documented, but there's one hint for who designed the hangar: the late designer/educator Julian Winston mentioned undertaking "a complete re-work of 'playtown' items" when he started at CP sometime between 1963-1966 [the year CBS bought CP and started pouring money into the business.] Otherwise, my money's on Gloria Caranica. Either way, does anyone know if these things look and play as well in person?

1 Comment

I would have liked to see some of Julian Winston's Creative Playthings designs after his Orange Sunshine trip.

I'm guessing the hangar was designed before Winston got there. His re-work of the Playtown series looks a little too colorful and has a little too much Helvetica. When CBS took over and the money started pouring in, all of a sudden there was plastic and color catalogs and googly-eyed characters on the boxes. Things were a little simpler before CBS.

I have a couple of the basic Playtown houses. The basic Playtown unit is the topless single-room house. The same piece was used as a base for the Playtown garage and gas station, etc. They do play well (although a little small for a house). I imagine a kid would enjoy a whole Play-town, with all the pieces.

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