Guidecraft Celebrates 50 Years of Making Toy Systems for Change
50 years ago a young man named Fred Fein started a business making small, wooden figures in a one room shop in Garnerville, New York. Mr. Fein describes his first wood shop this way. “There was one area where I worked with machinery and another area for silkscreen painting and an area for final packaging. I did the quality control myself as well!” He called his new company Guidecraft®.
The first toys Mr. Fein made were the aptly named, Wedgies™, for their wide bases and narrow tops, and were designed to be used with unit blocks to encourage a child’s social and emotional development.
Those first figures mirrored the conservative 1960’s iconic styling of the time, but also belied a progressive cultural message that Mr. Fein quietly conveyed in each Wedgie. Women were more than mothers – they had careers. Professionals came from a variety of cultures and with different skin tones.
Today, we look with nostalgia on these figures, but 50 years ago, they represented pioneering concepts in education and society. Interestingly, thousands of Wedgies resembling those original figures are still made and sold every year through school supply distribution companies, some of which have been Guidecraft customers since the 1960s.
Classic Wedgies Line Up
Today, Guidecraft is a global company with operations in North America, South America, Europe and Asia. Throughout the years of growth, the company has always maintained its high standards to provide thoughtful, smart and creative additions to the consumer and educational children’s toy and furniture market. Guidecraft’s rich portfolio now includes unique premier toys, manipulatives, construction and block play toys, arts and storage furniture, household helpers and furniture systems.
Of note, all of Guidecraft’s premier building toys inherently compliment the ever-increasing focus on STEM skill development. Whether it is the 2016 introduction of a STEM toy specifically designed for toddlers, such as Better Builders® Grippies®, or overlaying a 16-year-old artist’s creations onto the already inspiring magnetic building system, PowerClix®, or extending the TOTY Finalist IO Blocks® system to include vehicle parts as well as a mini version of the toy, Guidecraft® is committed to creating toys that are fun, yet powerful learning tools with multi-disciplinary benefits.
Guidecraft is proud to be built upon the foundation of the forward-thinking Wedgie, and thrilled to be able continue in Mr. Fein’s tradition.