Our great leader, Louis B. Marx, had many friends and this story surrounds his association with, at the time, President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Mr. Marx enjoyed sending toys to his friends. Many of these were one of a kind such as the train sets he would send to the Eisenhowers. In 1951, when "IKE" was preparing to take the office of the presidency, meetings were being held to discuss the worlds problems. Louis Marx decided his pal IKE needed something to ease the tensions that cropped up between heads of state. This is where our story begins.
We have not found where the toys were made or who designed them but the MARX TOY COMPANY created the ---EISENHOPPERS--- They are molded hard plastic figures with four spring legs. A suction cup is attached on the underside and when pressed down on a smooth surface, and after a short period of time, they would FLY!! into the air surprising anyone close by!!!! We contacted the DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER LIBRARY in Abilene, Kansas and talked to the curator Mr. Dennis Medina. Please read his response at this time.
I have located some information in our files concerning the Eisenhoppers. The small amount of correspondence is written around December 1952 to February 1953. This would be the period of time just before the inaugural and after. In a small article from the Lancaster PA Journal, December 24, 1952,
"Ike Has Gadget to Startle Visitors"
New York - The Secret of the "Eisenhopper" came out today. It is now clear why some visitors to President-elect Eisenhower's 42nd Street White House have emerged looking rather startled. The President-elect has been scaring them with plastic grasshoppers. Apparently, Eisenhower has been using the high jumping gadgets as tension relievers during serious conference. The existence of the grasshopper was disclosed when several of them were discovered on the desk of the secretary in an outer office. She said they came from the President-elect.
Other correspondence deals with Marx sending a gross of the items for his use.
Denis Medina, Museum Curator
We will now explain the pictures:
Picture #1--shows the box. It's dimensions are 2" high X 3 1/2" wide and 12" long. You are looking at the top and the bottom. We only have the frog and two variations of the space men but there were 10 hoppers in the box and, most likely, random styles. The box is hard cardboard and the printing, like most Marx boxes, is bright with great art work.
Picture #2-- these are the two different space men and a frog. Of the eight hoppers we have, they are different colors. The space men are three inches long and the frog is two inches long.
Picture #3-- A side view of the toys showing the suction cup on the underside. Actually, it was not a suction cup but a round soft rubber disc rivetted to the body. The rivet was depressed so as to give a concaveness to the rubber and there-by allowing a vacuum.
Picture #4-- Any time a MARX collector finds a MARX toy, there is another toy of the same style made by someone else. Toy makers were, and are, very competitive. When a manufacturer could make a toy better and cheaper, they were the winners. This picture shows a hopper made of tin and has the same style rubber cup. The litho might be of the 1950s period but the tin underbody is the old tin plate found on prewar toys. The trade mark is partially hidden but it says--- Japan and the logo appears to be from the Imakita Kinzoku Kogyo Co. of Japan. Since we know of the Marx Toy Companys production date we will not assume the age of the Japan toy.
Picture #5-- We see the difference in size in this photo. The Marx hopper is smaller and heavier than the other but the spring is stronger so they both jump about the same height.
Again, we hope you have enjoyed this story of the genius of Louis Marx and also a peak at his humorous side. Please write if you have more information or would just like to comment.