Skip to content
Playing Cowboy

Playing Cowboy

February 10 - May 7, 2023

Since the publication of the first dime novels and the worldwide tours of Wild West shows in the 1880s, children across the globe have “played cowboys and Indians.” Not long after, publishers and manufacturers began producing books, games and toys capitalizing on the Western craze and targeted specifically toward children. Westerns on radio, in early silent films and in B-Westerns in the 1930s and 1940s only increased the wont for children’s Western toys. By 1959, 47 Westerns were broadcast each week on prime-time television and TV Westerns even had their own Emmy category. Children’s Western toys and costumes reached their zenith in terms of production during the 1960s. This exhibition is drawn entirely from the Johnie and Bob Terry collection from Springtown, Texas. Bob is a renowned historian of Western toys and even appeared as Woody in promotions for the “Toy Story” series. The Terrys operate Wild West Toys, a company that makes molded plastic Western figures and casts toy cap guns from the original vintage molds.

Object Highlights

Playing Cowboy


Related Events & Programming

Brown Bag: Toys R Western: The Lasting Pop Culture Influence of Western-Themed Play 

March 2 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Western-themed toys, games, comics and other kids’ products hit their height of popularity in the 1950s and 1960s alongside the TV Westerns. Yet, today they can be seen as more … Continued

More Info

Kids Take Over the Cowboy: Cereal, Cartoons and Crafts! Oh My!

March 4 @ 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

In honor of the Museum’s exhibits celebrating the history of toys and play in the West, we’re bringing back the nostalgia of Saturday morning cartoons and cereal. Kids can come … Continued

More Info

Stay Connected

Sign up for our e-newsletter