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Exhibitions Playing Cowboy


Whether constructing a “fort” out of chairs stacked in a dining room or using a bedsheet to create a “tipi” in the backyard, children used available materials to build Western settings.

After World War II and advances in the uses of metals and plastics for the war effort, toy companies turned these technologies to toy play sets. Play sets of Western towns, forts, villages, or haciendas made from tin and plastic became readily available. Tin play sets usually had brightly colored, well-designed lithographed exteriors and interiors to add “authenticity.” Molded plastic play sets were made easy to assemble (and disassemble). Both tin and plastic play sets came with plastic human figures, animals, furniture, and other components to make these settings more “immersive.” Western towns, ranches, and forts, in different sizes, dominated the toy market.

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