Eiichiro Tomiyama began producing toys in 1924. His original designs were tin-based toys, a material the company was to favor into the 1950s. At its start, Tomiyama's company was only one of many turning out cheap-to-manufacture products. Yet Tomiyama recognized early on that Japan had the opportunity of becoming a major player in the worldwide toy market. This would happen only if its toymakers ended the often cutthroat competition among them and instead banded together to produce higher-quality, and innovative products.
In 1929, Tomiyama brought together a group of small-scale toymakers into a common association, founding the so-called 'Omocha no machi,' or Toytown. This was to become the heart of the Japanese toy industry. Tomiyama took his vision a step further in 1935, establishing a dedicated research and development center to create new types of toys using new manufacturing techniques, materials, and technologies. From a staff of 20, Tomiyama's R&D team eventually grew to more than 200, located worldwide, a commitment that enabled the company to react quickly to consumer trends and preferences.
World War II cut short the company's toy development as key materials were shifted to support the Japanese war effort. The rapid growth of the Japanese economy in the postwar era, however, and the country's emergence onto the global market as an industrial and technological powerhouse, provided new opportunities for the toy company. Production of toys resumed, and in 1953 Tomiyama formally incorporated the company as Tomy Company.
The 1950s saw the launch of the Tomy brand, soon to become one of the world's major toy brands. An important component of the company's success was its early shift to a new and exciting toy material: plastic. The development of more supple forms of plastic -coupled with an overall consumer enthusiasm for the 'modern' material- offered an entirely new range of toy possibilities. From simple tin models, Tomy's toys achieved an increasing complexity of shapes and forms.
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