I can see why kids are into these Cozy Coupes. But what I really love is how obsessed grownups are. Like in rows 4-7 above, it’s the grownup’s obsession and creativity transforming used and faded Cozy Coupes into new and wonderful designs for their kids. Here’s A STORY about the transformation in row seven. Then there are the truly obsessed grownups like in row eight. This British guy made a full sized, street legal Cozy Coupe that he drives around, VIDEO HERE. And this other obsessed Brit in row nine…hahahahaha!!!!! VIDEO HERE. And of course if you’re totally obsessed, you need one of these cool T-SHIRTS!
Maybe it’s the “little boy” in me, but I love cars. And trucks. Big, small, fast, smooth, sleek, and now all electric, I’m fascinated by the designs and tech improvements each year. Here at KHT, we have the pleasure to apply our skills supporting the automobile industry, solving their PIA (Pain in the %@$) Jobs! Many times I’ll see a vehicle on the road, and think – “Yep, we’re part of that amazing piece of machinery.” So, here’s a little trivia. Can you name the best-selling cars of all time? Think about them carefully. Made your picks? Well, you probably missed an important one. VW Beetle? Ford Model T? Mustang? Caravan? The top three spots worldwide are held by Toyota Corolla, Ford F-Series pickup and Volkswagen Golf. No surprises there. However, close behind them is – the Cozy Coupe. Yes, the “Flintstone“ like car produced for young children by Little Tikes is a consistent top-seller, year in and year out. Did you know, the Cozy Coupe outsold all engine-powered cars in Great Britain in March of this year. More than 85,000 were purchased that month as parents faced the prospect of being trapped at home with energetic toddlers. Here’s a fun story I came across in Smithsonian Magazine, written by David Kindy, a journalist, freelance writer and book reviewer who lives in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Exciting to be writing about another Cleveland company success story too. Enjoy! And thanks to Smithsonian magazine for the info.
- Inventor Jim Mariol was inspired one day as he scooted around on his office chair thinking about children’s toys. It was a “eureka” moment for the former automobile designer, who realized almost immediately that a functional, yet fun car would be ideal for young kids to also scamper around in.
- John Mariol, who worked for a time at his father’s industrial design firm, Design Alliance Inc. in Cincinnati, OH said, “I think Dad knew it would be a big hit from the start. He was designing toys for Little Tikes at the time and took it to the president, Tom Murdough. Excited, they decided to get it into production as soon as possible. Dad built a full-scale model and did all the engineering for the plastic-molding process.”
- Before Cozy Coupe rolled off the assembly line, the inventor made sure the toy would be a perfect fit for young hands. John’s children were the “test dummies” to see if proportions were right for smaller bodies. Most of the simple design features came from watching his kids interact with the prototypes.
- Mariol Sr. blazed a trail into a new market for the toy industry. Prior to Cozy Coupe, there were few large toys that toddlers could enjoy. Most were smaller handheld playthings that didn’t provide the mobility of a foot-powered car. (I had a metal pump car).
- Creating Cozy Coupe was a dream come true for Jim Mariol. He was fascinated by cars growing up during the Great Depression and wanted to become an automobile designer. A car concept he developed as a teenager earned Mariol a scholarship in 1947 to the University of Cincinnati, where he was a co-op student designing hubcaps, steering wheels and hood ornaments for Chrysler. Sadly, he didn’t get to finish his education because he was drafted into the U.S. Army for the Korean War.
- After military service, Mariol founded Design Alliance and came up with ideas for shop vacuums, air compressors, radios and campers for clients like Proctor & Gamble, Crosley Corp. and Emerson Electronics. Securing contracts and making payroll for his own business was challenging, and Mariol realized he needed a big design to generate sales from royalties. Cozy Coupe was his ticket to success.
- It took just a few months to go from drafting table to production. As soon as it turned up in stores in ’79, sales started to soar—first in the United States and then around the globe. During the 1980’s sales really began to take off. By 1991, with an annual production of 500,000, Cozy Coupe was America’s top-selling “automobile”. Toddlers craved the cute car with a working door, trunk and independent rolling wheels. Even children who couldn’t walk squealed with delight as their parents pushed them around in it.
- According to Michelle Parnett-Dwyer, curator of toys and dolls at the National Toy Hall of Fame, it was the right product at the right time. “There weren’t many moving toys for younger children,” she says. “Certainly, none like the Big Wheel, which was designed for older kids. Cozy Coupe was an opportunity for little ones to experience what adults do. Kids love to mimic mom and dad. It was perfect for toddlers.”
- Large “big box” retailers also had the shelf space to display such a large toy. The open concept warehouses allowed space for kids to actually climb in and take the Coupe for a test drive.
- Said Tina Mariol, one of his daughters, “The Cozy Coupe got it started, but Dad had a lot of other important ideas. He also came up with other large play items including a ride-on electric train for Little Tikes that was a big seller. It was really cool.”
- In addition to the car and train, which was marketed in the 1980s, Mariol received patents for other popular toys he designed, including folding dollhouses with handles for carrying, activity sets, sand and water tables and the ever-popular Party Kitchen where little ones could practice their cooking skills. (I’m pretty sure we had them all in our house at one point).
- Still produced by Little Tikes, Cozy Coupe continues to be a popular toy around the world. The product line has grown to include a fleet of vehicles, including police cars, fire trucks, racecars, even those with ladybug and dinosaur designs. The basic model still includes a red chassis and yellow roof but now features eyes for headlamps and a smile on the front grill. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $54.99.
- In 2009, the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum in Cleveland, which houses historically significant cars, airplanes and bicycles, acquired an original 1979 Cozy Coupe as well as an anniversary edition for its collection.
- On the 30th anniversary of the invention of the Cozy Coupe, Little Tikes reported annual sales of 457,000 cars—easily outselling Toyota Camry and Honda Accord that year.
- In 2012, a toy industry trade publication stated the company had sold a total of 22 million cars around the world since the first one left the factory floor.
- Success never changed the inventor. Tina says her father was the gentle sort who took it all in stride. All he really wanted to do was design toys and cars.
- Mariol eventually retired after a long career and passed at age 89. Family, friends and admirers gathered for his funeral and to celebrate his life in January. The inventor was given a final honor for his big sendoff. “The funeral home made a Cozy Coupe with flowers,” Tina says. “It was a really nice surprise. I’m sure Dad was happy.”
Learn more at LITTLE TIKES.
DO YOU LIKE CONTESTS?
As you may know the Kowalski Heat Treating logo finds its way
into the visuals of my Friday posts.
I. Love. My. Logo.
One week there could be three logos.
The next week there could be 15 logos.
And sometimes the logo is very small or just a partial logo showing.
But there are always logos in some of the pictures.
So, I challenge you, my beloved readers, to count them and send me
a quick email with the total number of logos in the Friday post.
On the following Tuesday I’ll pick a winner from the correct answers
and send that lucky person some great KHT swag.
So, start counting and good luck!
Oh, and the logos at the very top header don’t count.
Got it? Good. :-))))