A Little History of the Fisher-Price Little People

A Little History of the Fisher-Price Little People

Alison Gerber
May 6, 2013

There was something so beautifully simple about the design of Fisher-Price's Little People in their prime: that circle face and peg shaped body that has allowed for so much imaginative play for so many children across the last 60 years. But Little People haven't always looked the way I remember them, or how my kids know them now. So...just what happened to the Little People?

Here are ten fun facts about the evolution of Little People:

1. The first appearance of Little People was in 1950, when Fisher-Price designed a firetruck (above) with three round headed firefighters affixed to the top.

(The first removable Little People. Image: Amelia Rose Vintage.)

2. In 1959 the first removable Little People were released in a school bus play set.

(Bully Boy! Onepoolshark on eBay.)

3. In 1961 this bus set was re-released with a Bully Boy figurine. He even had a slingshot in his back pocket to torment the other Little kids. Eventually, however, he was kicked off the bus for bad behavior.

(Little People had wooden geometric bodies in this set from '65. Image: Things of Old.)

4. The body of the Little Person went through a number of shape and material changes from '59 to '65, until they finally settled upon the plastic wide body, narrow peg base that is most commonly associated with Little People. This lacing shoe set from 1965 has different shaped bases on the Little People, and the figures are entirely made of wood.

(Lucky the Dog! Image: Lair of the Dork Horde.)

5. The original play family had names! Mom, Dad, Pee Wee, Butch, Penny, Patty and of course, the most loved of all - Lucky the Dog.

(Sesame Street Little People. Image: Muppet Wiki)

6. In 1974 Fisher-Price released a set of Little People dedicated to Seasame Street! They were the first urban Little People, first Little People modeled on real people, and only toys to date that include figures of humans from the show.

("Toys that Kill". Image: Amazon)

7. Throughout the 1980s there was growing pressure for a larger version of the Little People by consumer groups concerned with choking. Certainly the release of a book titled "Toys That Kill" in 1986, which featured Little People not only in the book but on the cover, meant that Fisher-Price was headed for a redesign of their little plastic family.

(Little People got chunky to prevent choking. Image: Lulu's Vintage Finds)

8. In 1991 Fisher-Price released what is now referred to as "Chunky" Little People. They were significantly larger to prevent choking. However their larger size made them seem baby-ish and sales declined.

(The Little People released today. Image: Amazon)

9. 1997 saw another redesign of Little People, they were now made of molded plastic and had great detail in their hair, clothes and facial expressions. This is the style of Little People that continues to be sold today. (Image from Amazon.)

(A custom-made Little Person Jaws! Image: Suckadelic)

10. Still, the original design simplicity, and in my opinion beauty, of the original peg people continues to be celebrated today by collectors worldwide. Some have even taken to modifying or designing their own Little People! Check out this Jaws-themed Little Person by Suckadelic. Cool, huh? Imagine him riding in the back of your school bus!

(Images: 1. Tracy's Toys 2-10 as linked above)

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