Remco's Flying Fox Collectible Airplane ToyFitness Gear & Equipment
Aeronautical toys have always held a certain fascination for baby boomers. And in 1959, Remco came out with one of the finest in the line – the Flying Fox – billed as “the Jet-Prop Airliner.” Fasten your seat belts!
Remco Industries, Inc.: Every Boy Wants a Remco Toy...
The Flying Fox was one of many outstanding toys made by Remco Industries, Inc., located in its heyday at 113 N. 13th Street in Newark, New Jersey. Founded in the late 1940s in Harrison, New Jersey, Remco hit its stride during the 1950s and ‘60s, producing a number of classic toy creations which carried the slogan, “every boy wants a Remco toy…and so do girls.” Among the company’s more noteworthy efforts were such gems as the Movieland Drive-In Theater, the Showboat Theater Playset, the Johnny Reb Cannon, the Electrical Science Kit, the Whirlybird Helicopter, the Fighting Lady Battleship, the 2-Way Electronic Walkie Talkies, the Electronic Radio Station, the Barracuda Atomic Sub, the Mighty Matilda Atomic Aircraft Carrier, the Voice-Control Kennedy Airport Playset and the list goes on.
In 1971, Remco’s fortunes dipped in the highly competitive toy marketplace and it filed for bankruptcy protection. In 1974, the company and brand name were acquired by Azrak-Hamway International, Inc. of New York City. In 1997, JAKKS Pacific, Inc. purchased both Remco and Child Guidance from Azrak-Hamway International.
Remco's Flying Fox (1959) - William J. Felchner
Remco's Flying Fox: A Big Toy with All the Flashing Lights
Remco was never known for scrimping on its toys, and the Flying Fox continued in that grand tradition. The actual plane – part of the fleet of fictional Flying Fox Airlines – measures 17-inches from nose to tail and boasts of a wingspan of 18 ½ -inches. Various decals, including the plane’s identification number (5N216), adorn the fuselage, wings and vertical stabilizer. After a while, these decals tended to lose their adhesion and drop off, so missing “paper” is not unusual with this toy.
Once the plane was mounted on the flying cabinet via a large center screw and the four “D” size batteries installed on the console’s bottom, the fun began. The airliner’s four Japanese-made motor engines could then be started by pushing the left and right throttles forward, with the pilot controlling air speed ranging from 50 to 500. A set of three red levers at the bottom of the control panel were used to operate the port (left) and starboard (right) wing lights. The center lever, when pressed down, would make the lights blink as required for take offs and landings. A landing gear lever at the back of the plane could be pushed forward to lower the plane’s three sets of wheels.
The youngster piloting the Flying Fox could make the plane bank left or right via the two dual control half-wheels. In order to ensure a smooth and safe “flight,” various gauges and dials were located on the control panel, including ones for turns, banking, altitude, fuel, climbing and auto-pilot.
Remco's Flying Fox Packaging
The Flying Fox, Style No.711, came in a large orange, white, blue and black box. Printed on the box was the big plastic toy’s suggested retail price of $15.00, which was quite an outlay of cash in 1959. Included was a single illustrated instruction sheet, which advised owners “For best service do not return to your dealer as he is not equipped to repair this toy. Return to factory and send $2.00 under separate cover for handling to REMCO INDUSTRIES, INC….” Because of high acidity in the paper, the instruction sheet tends to brown and grow brittle as the years pass.
Remco's Flying Fox instruction sheet - William J. Felchner
Remco's Flying Fox: A Toy Collector Favorite
Remco’s Flying Fox, manufactured from 1959 to 1961, is a huge favorite with vintage toy collectors today. Some problems one might encounter with the toy, however, include the aforementioned missing decals and an absent red battery strap, which tended to go AWOL once the plane was played with a few times. This plastic strap, which held the four batteries in place, can be something of a challenge to fabricate today.
Mechanical problems are also a distinct possibility. Many collectors report that the airliner’s four engines are often slow to start, and have to be helped along with a slight tweak of the propeller blades. This is especially true for the plane’s inboard engines, which generally lag a bit behind their outboard brethren. But once all engines are ignited and revved up, they produce a fine, satisfying high-pitched whirring noise sure to please any aviation toy buff. For once, a toy’s advertising copy – “Jet Whine Engines,” in this case – lived up to the manufacturer’s promise.
A complete, fully functioning Flying Fox in excellent condition with its original box is generally valued at $750 to $1,000. Lesser condition examples, of course, are worth much less. One such Flying Fox offered on eBay, for example, was in less than stellar condition, with a host of “kiddie abuse/neglect” problems affecting it. They included a badly worn box bearing remnants of battery acid, a broken propeller, yellowing on the stabilizer and a missing battery strap and instruction sheet. It brought slightly less than $50, illustrating the point that condition is often everything in the vintage toy marketplace.
Remco's Pan Am Dual Control Jet Cockpit
Remco followed up the Flying Fox with a similar toy years later. It came in the form of the Pan Am Dual Control Jet Cockpit, released in 1969. This model, a toy simulator only (no plane) for the new Boeing 747 Super (Jumbo) Jet Clipper, was much larger than the earlier Flying Fox, enabling a pilot and co-pilot to communicate with each other via matching radio headsets. When found in excellent condition in its original box, the Pan Am toy can sell for over $300.