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Morris and Rose Michtom founded the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company in Brooklyn when they invented the Teddy bear in 1903. After Michtom's death in 1938, the company changed its name to the Ideal Toy Company, and Michtom's nephew Abraham Katz became chief executive.
Key Ideal employees during the 1950s, '60s, and '70s were Lionel A. Weintraub and Joseph C. Winkler. Weintraub, the son-in-law of Abraham Katz, joined the company in 1941 and rose to become president, chairman of the board, and chief executive officer. Winkler joined Ideal in 1956, rising to vice president by 1971.
In 1951, Ideal partnered with competitors the American Character Doll Company and the Alexander Doll Company to establish the United States-Israeli Toy and Plastic Corporation, designed to produce material for toys in Israel and the U.S. Ideal CEO Abraham Katz was named president of the new company.
In 1968, the American Character Doll Company filed for bankruptcy, and Ideal acquired the defunct company's dyes, patents, and trademarks, as well as specific products like the "Tressy" Gro-Hair doll.
In late 1971, Ideal joined the New York Stock Exchange; valued at $71 million, it was one of the U.S.'s top three toy companies.
Ideal had earnings of $3.7 million in fiscal year 1979-1980, but lost $15.5 million in fiscal year 1980-1981. (Sales both years averaged c. $150 million.) Trying to maximize profits on the Rubik's Cube craze, in May 1981 Ideal filed civil suits against dozens of distributors and retailers selling knockoff cubes.
In May 1981, Joseph Winkler was named Ideal's president, succeeding Lionel Weintraub, who remained chairman and CEO.
Understanding branding well, Ideal had a boy doll launched in 1914 named the Uneeda Kid, after a biscuit company.
One of Ideal's most lasting products was Betsy Wetsy, introduced in 1934 and in production for more than 50 years. The doll was named after the daughter of Abraham Katz, the head of the company. Ideal, via the Betsy Wetsy doll, was also one of the first doll manufacturers to produce an African American version of a popular doll. In 2003, the Toy Industry Association named Betsy Wetsy to its Century of Toys List, a compilation commemorating the 100 most memorable and most creative toys of the 20th century.
Two cosmetics-based doll series were launched after World War II: Toni was introduced at the end of the 1940s, followed by the 1950s-dominating Miss Revlon series.
Ideal had a hobby division in the 1950s, but shifted from that to games in 1962. By the early 1970s, 30% of the company's sales were games such as Mouse Trap and Hands Down.
Doll designer Judith Albert worked for Ideal Toy Company from 1960-1982. Master sculptor Vincent J. DeFilippo spent 27 years creating dolls for Ideal from 1963-1980[verification needed]. Some of the company's most popular dolls during this period were Tammy (1962-1966), Flatsy dolls (1969-1973), Crissy (1969-1974), and Tressy (1970-1972).
Popular Ideal toys in the 1970s included a full line of Evel Knievel toys, Snoopy toys, and the Tuesday Taylor and Wake-up Thumbelina dolls.