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Library Exhibit Features Toys With Local History

In time for the holidays, and before the new Star Wars movie is released, the main branch of the Cincinnati Hamilton County Public Library has an exhibit on toys with a Cincinnati history. 

Brian Powers with the library's genealogy and history department says the display is largely about Kenner Toys.

“It was a Cincinnati toy company,” he says. “And actually the street that it was on in the 1940s was Kenner.  That’s where the name comes from. That street’s still around. It’s over by the Cincinnati Museum Center.”

Powers says Kenner eventually moved into the Kroger building at Vine and Court.  That's where the company hit the jackpot, winning the exclusive rights to make Star Wars toys.

“Those Star Wars toys that were done by Kenner here in Cincinnati basically changed the toy industry," Powers says. 

“You wouldn’t just buy a toy, you would buy the spaceship with it. And Kenner developed all these different scenarios that would be in the movies so these kids were buying all sorts of things, not just action figures, but all this other stuff that went with it,” Powers says.

The exhibit features more than just Star Wars toys.

Credit Bill Rinehart / WVXU
The library is also hosting a Kenner symposium and screening a documentary on the Star Wars toys on December 12.

Powers says there are display cases throughout the library, but the largest is on the third floor.

“That’s got all sorts of crazy toys that Kenner did in its early years," Powers says. "There’s the Daddy Saddle, which is pretty hysterical, from the 60s. The Easy Bake Oven, which was a huge thing for Kenner in the 60s. Hasbro still makes that. There are several toys that are still being made.” 

Hasbro bought Kenner and shut down local toy making operations in 2000.

The exhibit also features toys that came from other local companies, like the Magic 8 ball and  Pound Puppies.

The library is hosting a symposium on Kenner Toys on December 12, featuring a documentary on the Star Wars toys and Kenner employees.  The exhibit runs through January 17.