Toysmith Group / Bill Ding

Toysmith Group

Bill Ding

Age Range
Educational Skills Product

Your child will enjoy this innovative product Bill Ding. It is a toy they will enjoy building with and creating new patterns. Each box has nine per set. The idea is to build with two clowns at the same time on both sides. The colorful set of primary colors will provide your child with plenty of building as they play with these 3-dimensional shapes. They can be stacked high and can be formed in many different directions. The balancing act is exciting to watch. Playing with these figures builds eye hand dexterity, fine motor skills and appreciation of balance.

The History of Bill Ding

The history of Bill Ding began with the founding of Strombeck-Becker Manufacturing Company of Moline, Illinois in 1911. Their first products were tool handles manufactured with scrap lumber from a neighboring company. In 1919, they produced their first toy, a set of tenpins, from new wood. By 1922 when competitors using Bakelite material impacted their wooden handle business, they decided to focus on toys because this made the best use of their manufacturing equipment.

Around 1924, the company started making educational building blocks, which led to the production of train model assembly kits. Under the brand name "Strombecker" the company expanded its line of assembly kits to airplanes, then other inexpensive hobby kits of ships and games. Because of their reasonable prices, these product lines continued during the depression years regardless of economic conditions.

Eventually toys became the staples of the company along with games and dollhouses. In 1931 Strombecker introduced the interlocking, balancing wooden figures named "Bill Ding". These were an immediate success and became one of the all-time best sellers for the company. Building on the success of Bill Ding, Strombecker later introduced a smaller version called Bill Ding Jr. and later included parallel bars and a booklet of stunts, games and balancing challenges to add play value to these products

The early 1950's marked the trend away from wooden model kits with the increasing popularity of plastic kits. Strombecker suffered the accompanying shortfall of sales and attempted to convert their manufacturing process to injection molding. Unfortunately, due to the enormous cost of new machinery and molds Strombecker experienced their first ever substantial financial losses. Although they were able to produce some high quality plastic kits, they found themselves as late newcomers to the plastic manufacturing industry, without the benefit of years of know-how held by their competitors. Unable to maintain a successful presence in this industry, they eventually made a quiet exit from the toy and model business in 1961.

In 1985 Ed Stuhr of Stuhr Enterprises purchased the rights to Bill Ding. He added Bill Ding to the manufacturing line of his wood products at the factory in Wilton, Iowa. Since Ed was planning on retiring and shutting down the factory, he shifted production of the Bill Ding product overseas. Unfortunately he experienced a near disaster with his first order-nearly 80% of the shipment arrived defective! As a result Bill Ding was unavailable after 2001.

At the New York Toy Fair in 2004, Fred DaMert, Creative Director of the DaMert line of the Toysmith Group, was approached by John Boris, one of his sales representatives, who suggested that he look into Bill Ding for the DaMert line. Realizing that Bill Ding was one of his favorite childhood toys, Fred tracked down Ed Stuhr and struck a deal to explore renewed production and world wide distribution. After an extensive search for a manufacturer who had a rare but crucial piece of machinery required to efficiently product the product, Bill Ding returned to the marketplace making its debut at the 2006 New York Toy Fair.

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