S. Berliner, III's sbiii.com StromBecKer Page keywords = StromBecKer Strombeck Becker model toy aviation air plane rail road train Beech Bonanza Rocket Bill Ding Dowst Tootsietoy Stuhr Chicago Cutlery Bersted Nathan Shure Cosmo

Updated:   05 Aug 2011, 19:25  ET
[Page created 24 Jun 2003; converted 05 Aug 2011

    original AT&T Worldnet Website begun 30 May 1996.]
URL:  http://sbiii.com/strombkr.html
[was at "home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasonics/strombkr.html"]

S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"

[consultation is on a fee basis]

Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher

note - The vast bulk of my massive Web presence (over 485 pages) had been hosted by AT&T's WorldNet service since 30 May 1996; they dropped WorldNet effective 31 Mar 2010 and I have been scrambling to transfer everything.  Everything's saved but all the links have to be changed, mostly by hand.  See my sbiii.com Transfer Page for any updates on this tedious process.

S. Berliner, III's





This page is, so far, basically unindexed, except for:

On this main StromBecKer page:
  StromBecKer Kits
    (material moved from main Aviation page 09 Mar 00 and from Aviation Page 3 on 24 jun 03)
  Bill Ding
  HO Katy Box Car

On the StromBecKer Continuation Page 1:
  Korean-Vintage Airplane Kits - moved from this page on 03 Nov 05.


The Strombeck-Becker Manufacturing Company

(or some such name)
[Material moved from main Aviation page 09 Mar 00 and from Aviation Page 3 on 24 Jun 03]

Just before World War II and through it, there was a line of wooden kits under the STROMBECKER name; they had detail parts made of wood that was so hard that the turnings, such as engine nacelles, couldn't be whittled to fit the wing sockets, etc.  They were so hard that it took hours of sanding to get them shaped; that's why my fleets of P-40s and Stratoliners never got built*.  Their railroad models were just as impossible to complete properly; I still have an aluminum tire (must be just-post-war) from Stephenson's Rocket (or some such engine, but it's NOT a StromBecKer and was red or orange plastic!).

I put this page up (24 Jun 03) to see what shakes loose; on my other similar pages (Comet/Authenticast and such), all sorts of wonderful images and links have turned up.  Let me know what you can contribute, please.

note-rt.gif  Even more to the point, the StromBecKer line is going to be REINTRODUCED and old catalogs are urgently needed to identify molds; please get in touch with me if you can offer any help.

    (Actually, instruction sheets may well serve the same purpose.)

I found my StromBecKer Beech Bonanza!

On 10 Aug 2005, I was advised of Steve Remington's CollectAir commercial aviation art gallery site with a vast collection of aviation history, apocrypha, and ephemera AND the absolutely incredible "THE STROMBECK-BECKER STORY - THE STROMBECK-BECKER MANUFACTURING COMPANY STORY", Part One - prewar and WWII history and Part Two - postwar history of the Strombeck-Becker Manufacturing Company and the Strombecker Manufacturing Company.  This appears to be the most definitive history available* [new URLs 26 Dec 08].

[* - apart from what I find to be an excessive injection of theology on page 2 -
implying that other beliefs (or lack thereof) preclude ethical business practices!]

The Dowst (Tootsietoy) firm of Chicago, Illinois, founded in the late 1890s by Charles O. and Samuel Dowst, famed for making miniature cast-metal cars, trains, and planes under the Tootsietoy name (introduced in 1922) was bought out by Nathan Shure's Cosmo Mfg. in 1926, acquired the Strombeck-Becker toy line in 1961, and changed its name to the Strombecker Corp. [Source: History-of-Toys "The Wonderful World of Toy Collecting" and revised per Strombecker's history].

Originally taken from Strombeckercanada.com, which appeared to be affiliated with Disney in some way.  As of the creation of this separate page (24 Jun 03), the site is down.

WHOA! - Strombecker Corporation very much still exists!  I Googled "Tootsietoy" and was shocked to get a TOOTSIETOY/Strombecker site!  It has a complete history; rather than plagiarize, I'll just add that they claim to be America's oldest toy company (Dowst started in 1876) and to have made the world's first die-cast model toy car, that Dowst's granddaughter was named Tootsie, and that Dowst made both Monopoly markers and Cracker Jacks prizes.  Strombecker is headquarted in Chicago.

According to the late hobby great Hal Carstens (ca. Nov 2008), Strombecker's (Tootsietoy) head honcho, Myron B. Shure, with whom he was great friends and with whom he served on the HIAA Board of Trustees, passed away in 2002 {Nathan's grandson@}.

@ - 06 Nov 2008 - according to Myron's (Mike's) grandson, Nathan's great-great-grandson, per his wife, Mike's son, Daniel, took over from Mike when he retired AND Mike's daughter married a Berliner (no relation)!  [Yet another reason why I love the Internet!]

StromBecKer Beech Bonanza

So, where did all my StromBecKer models go?  ???  I was quite sure I must at least still have had my post-war Beech Bonanza, with my own intricately-crafted and detailed tricycle landing gear, but where was it hiding (what if, like the SE-5A, it's NOT a StromBecKer)?  The kit came with wooden wheels to be pressed onto stamped aluminum "gear" but I modified it with rubber tires and oleos and even a scale right-side step.  Well, along comes Dave Kingman on 28 Sep 01 to advise that it was probably "Strombecker's kit number C41, a Beechcraft Bonanza in 1/48 scale (8¼" wing span).  That kit was introduced in 1948 or 1949, had stamped-metal main gear with rubber tires and a wire nose gear with small wooden tire."; not quite as I remember but almost certainly correct (I could have sworn the main gear wheels were wood, but they could just have well been fairly crude rubber blobs which I either replaced with hubs and rubber tires or painted to simulate hubs).

Being quite sure where the Bonanza was, I had (24 Jun 2003) checked again - no joy; it just was NOT there.  Curses; foiled again!  On 24 Sep 2005, showing something unrelated to my grandson, there it was in a different box!  60 years old and almost perfect!  What a relief and what a charge!  The years haven't done the decals any good; they are slightly yellowed, there is a small chip missing on the starboard cowl, a tiny tip of the number "3" in the registration number on the starboard wing is gone, and the two sides of the windscreen are bubbling and cracked.  The rubber wheels are sound and still turn and the prop twirled freely at the first puff of breath!  Oddly, though, the grain shows through the silver paint, which is no longer shiny.  After all these years of searching, here she is:

Right front and left front views:
BonanzaRF BonanzaLF
25 Sep 05 photos by and © 2005 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)
[Thumbnailed images - click on pictures for larger images]

Left rear and right rear views:
BonanzaLR BonanzaRR
25 Sep 05 photos by and © 2005 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)
[Thumbnailed images - click on pictures for larger images]

Rear and front views:
Bonanza BonanzaFront
25 Sep 05 photos by and © 2005 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)
[Thumbnailed images - click on pictures for larger images]

Right front close-up showing damage to cowl and windscreen decals:
25 Sep 05 photos by and © 2005 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)
[Thumbnailed image - click on picture for larger image]

Right and left sides of nose gear and inside view of starboard main gear:
BonanzaNosegearR BonanzaNosegearR BonanzaPortMainGear
25 Sep 05 photos by and © 2005 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)
[Thumbnailed images - click on pictures for larger images]

Underside views of antenna and step and of tail skid:
BonanzaAntStep BonanzaTail;Skid
25 Sep 05 photos by and © 2005 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)
[Thumbnailed images - click on pictures for larger images]

Right rear view of step:
25 Sep 05 photo by and © 2005 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)
[Thumbnailed image - click on picture for larger image]

Rear view of tail showing decal elevon hinge, scribed trim tabs, and unfilled groove for elevon:
25 Sep 05 photo by and © 2005 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)
[Thumbnailed image - click on picture for larger image]

There are a number of details I'd forgotten; the elevon hinges are decals but the ailerons, flaps, and tail trim tabs are all painstakingly scribed in; the rear of the prop spinner looks like my own doing, the antenna post on top and the antenna underneath are mine, but the step is just as I remembered it.  What a kick!

[Since I took the model out, the cowl decal has started cracking longitudinally.]

The original main landing gear struts from the kit turned up, together with two failed attempts at the nose gear strut!  Better yet, here they are, from my old junk box which turned up ca. 01 Feb 2008:

(excerpted from 03 Feb 08 photo by and © 2008 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)

Note that one of the main landing gear struts has the pin sheared off where the wood wheel jammed - I KNEW it was wood!).


An antiques dealer offered a 1952 magazine showing a Bill Ding With Clowns Set made by, of all firms, the Strombeck-Becker Mfg. Co.!  If you don't remember, Bill Ding was a two-dimensional figurine somewhat like Jiggs in the "Maggie and Jiggs" cartoon strip, about 5" (12.7cm) high, printed in black on ¾" (19mm) thick hardwood painted in several strong colors, with little notches on his hands, shoulders, and feet, and a ridge on his head, that allowed stacking the figurines in various configurations:

Bill Ding

The Strombecker Company began producing Bill Ding in the 1930's, but stopped making them in 1965.  In 1980, the product was sold to Chicago Cutlery.  Ed Stuhr bought Chicago Cutlery in 1985, including the rights to the original Bill Ding pattern and he started making Bill Ding again in 1988 [Source: Classic Toys 2001 - Stuhr Enterprises, "Dr. Toy" (Stevanne Auerbach, PhD)].

Stuhr Enterprises, the wood products manufacturer which sells a Bill Ding set at $30.00, doesn't seem to have a Website but they are located in tiny, rural Wilton, Iowa  52778, tel. 877-419-3878.

[They are NOT the Stuhr Enterprises, Inc. of San Diego, which manufactures and distributes animal feed ingredients.]

Who out there knows anything about Bill Dings printed on natural wood?  A fellow in Ralston, Pennsylvania, came across a set of nine Bill Ding Clown blocks that are not painted but, instead, have the detail printed in different colors on natural wood figures.  He has not been able to find out when these were made.  The one with the black detail on natural wood is the only one to say "Bill Ding".  "Are these by the original Strombeck-Becker or one of the companies that had the rights after them?"

[cropped and enhanced photo - all rights reserved
Thumbnailed image - click on the picture for a larger image]

My guess would be these were wartime specials, to save paint.  Anyone?  Well, on 04 Dec 2005 I heard from a man who got his painted set for Christmas in 1942, so they had to have been made before Dec 1942; there goes THAT hypothesis, at least for the first year of the war.  Is there anyone still alive (and Web-enabled) who actually knows?

Dr. Toy knows; he writes, in response to someone who was "desperately looking for the Bill Ding Stacking Clowns, box of 14 figures":  (undated) "some Bill Dings were manufactured by Strombecker (1930's to 1965?), then later (in the 80's) by Stuhr Enterprises.  There are at least 6 varieties of Bill Dings I am aware of, but I don't know which manufacturer is responsible for each, or whether the same style is done by more than one.  You've got the classic Bill Dings (Bill Ding has two teeth showing and his buddies have one tooth showing each).  Strombecker did these and Stuhr did them - Stuhr's have colored outlines on top of the base color - the white guy is outlined in a kind of pink.  Then you have the more harmless looking clowns with 3 clown buttons on their costume.  These come in regular size (4+ inches) and Bill Ding Jr. (3.5 inches).  The juniors come in a variety where there is no background paint - just the outlines on a plain wood background.  There is also a kind of clown that has just one clown button on his outfit.  Stuhr was making them until recently at least.  I read somewhere they are out of business."  That sounds authoritative enough for me (my thanks to G. L. Shugars for sending this along to me).

Ebay item #6030121656 is for "Strombecker BILL DING Balancing Clowns" in a sealed box (looks more like an unopened shrink-wrapped card inside an opened box to me).  The seller advises that the maker is only shown as "STROMBECK" (weird) and was kind enough to allow me to post the pictures:

BillDingNatWoodBox BillDingNatWoodInside
[slightly cropped photos - all rights reserved to seller
Thumbnailed images - click on the pictures for larger images]

Notice both the three-button jacket and the one-tooth smile (smile?) on the primary figure.  My thanks to MM who put me on to the item.

An anonymous e-correspondent (you KNOW how I hate that!) sent me a message to which I could not take exception; he sent along three lo-res. pix that I absolutely love:




Some of the sender's comments (edited):  "this wood is so tough that the termites can't or won't eat it" (I responded that they can't!).  "If you notice one picture of the end of the box in the dark box under the StromBecKer oval clearly states: 'No Carving Tools or Skill Needed', yeah right, just pass me that sandpaper!"  "I'm no ____ Makita sander".  No carving tools or skill (not even a Skilsaw) were needed because nothing then available could cut that wood!  Actually, I think modern lasers might cut that so-called wood.  I also notice that the box says "All Parts Cut to Shape"; that was quite true.  The only problem was that they were never cut to the RIGHT shape!

I never realized (or forgot) that StromBecKer made naval spotter/recognition models.  Looking a gift horse in the mouth, I asked for high-res. photos and also pix of the glue packet and of the box contents.

I also note that the label CLEARLY shows the capitalization of the "B" and "K" and the lower case usage of the terminal "R"; contrary to my "clear" recollection of it being:


the name is unmistakeably:


(If this turns out to be wrong, I'll be really ticked,
having revised all occurences hereon, even to the title!)

Our anonymous friend came through; here are a bunch of clearer shots (including the contents of the kit and the instruction sheet!):





[Thumbnailed image - click on the picture for a larger image]

[Thumbnailed image - click on the picture for a larger image]


There's that Casco casein glue packet; what a nostalgia kick that is!  This reminded me that my airplane kits came with a second strip of sandpaper and a wood stick; the sandpaper was orange-brown and coarser than the tan sheet and you glued the strip to the stick (which was about 1" x 6" x 1/8" thick, sort of like a miniature paint stirrer) and used it like a file or rasp, not that it made any dent in those awful, rock-hard Stratoliner nacelles*!  Hey!  Isn't that it at the far right?  I still have one somewheres; wonder if I can find it.

Does anyone have a StromBecKer catalog to share with us?

Korean-Vintage Airplane Kits - moved to StromBecKer Continuation Page 1 on 03 Nov 05

About 300 or so mint Korean Police Action vintage Strombeck airplane kits turned up and are covered in quite some detail on the continuation page.

The late Hal Carstens remembered that the tiny die-cast toys in boxes of Cracker Jacks were made by StromBecKer (Dowst might have been the original name and then they bought Strombecker or v.v.  I could only find one reference to Dowst, about a "1930's Cracker Jacks diecast bus, an early Cracker Jack premium made by Dowst (Tootsietoy)" - make of that what you will; the link was broken.

I heard (02 Dec 03) from Ron Schauble, of Kansas City, who confirmed that it was quite impossible to sand or cut that fool wood*!  He reminds me that the "absolutely best thing about Strombecker {airplane} models was the chance to join their model builder's club and get a swell set of Strombecker pilot wings".  He thinks I need a picture of those wings on my website.  Since neither of us ever got any such thing, can anyone out there provide a photo?

* - Let's be fair to StromBecKer; I really DID finish one each of the P-40 and Stratoliner kits, even though it took most of my youth!  If you skipped meals and sleep, never did any homework, cut Sunday School (no Truant Officer there!), and avoided any sports, and sanded every waking moment, you could actually (eventually) remove tiny smitches of so-called wood from the nacelles; of course, by then, you'd worn through several sanding stick resurfacings!  Also, if you drilled VERY slowly and pulled back constantly to clear shavings, you could even actually make holes into which the propellor pins would fit.  REALLY!  I also completed the De Witt Clinton (see below) and the Rock Island ROCKET, one of the world's first locos and one of the world's first Diesel streamliners.

Speaking of locomotives, here's a pre-war (WWII) StromBecKer loco, of which I'd never even heard; it's apparently one of a series based on the 1934 Chicago Century of Progress exposition and is labelled a "Modern Locomotive 1934".  HA!  The 4-6-0 Ten-Wheeler steamer was rarely (if ever) built by 1934; it was a popular commuting engine in the WWI era.

1934 S-B Loco
(image from D'Antiques site)

It also shows no main or side rods!  It's not really a model of any real loco but a crude toy; without rods, it's an even-cruder toy.

Too funny!  D'Antiques notes it as made from "pine"; if it's like later StromBecKer kits, I'd suggest it's more likely made of "ROCK maple"!

StromBecKer HO Katy Box Car - Pat Kroll turned up an old (ca. 1948?) StromBecKer HO-scale kit R-12, which builds a Missouri, Kansas & Texas (MKT or Katy) box car, and was kind enough to send photos:




MKTBoxcarBoxEnd1" MKTBoxcarBoxEnd2"



(photos courtesy of P. Kroll - all rights reserved)

There's that Casco glue packet but where's the sanding stick?  Maybe it wasn't needed for the car kit; just the sheet for smoothing.  I remember people buying working HO trucks and couplers ("t&c") and converting StromBecKer cars to actually run (as the box bottom notes).

From the notations on the box ends and top, it would appear that this kit cost a whopping 40!

Ooooh!  Look!  Side "2" states "WESTERN PINE WOOD"; they must have meant pine from the ROCKy Mountains!  Maybe it meant pitch pine because, after a few attempts at cutting and sanding, you were likely to pitch it!

[Of course, it could have been fir because it resisted all efforts fir so long!]

Which reminds me; if you tried to force those axles into the wheels, they (the wheels) would split, and there was no way any ordinary kid could drill out the holes [I had a Foredom Electric flex-shaft drill (still do) so I could do it]!

Speaking of StromBecKer trains, a gentleman picked up an unbuilt De Witt Clinton train kit ca. Jul-Aug 2005 and wrote to me about it; here it is:


StromBecKer Kit No. 1831-GT

Now that I see it, I realize I had that!  The Casco glue packet was printed blue on white but otherwise that's it!  Bet whoever started it quit after forcing that one wheel on the axle; good thing the wheel didn't split!  Not only did I once have it, I have a photo of it in my pre-teen toy cabinet, on the top shelf, posted on my Hobby Continuation Page 2, except that it's quite invisible; here's that cabinet (with the invaluable Foredom flex shaft unit hanging at the left):

(cropped from ca. 1945 photo by and © 2005 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)

and an enhanced over-enlargement of the top shelf, showing the two passenger cars (stage coach bodies) and a smitch of the tender:

(enhanced from ca. 1945 photo by and © 2005 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)

How's THAT for recollection (and proof)?  Now, who has a copy of the instruction sheet for this kit that they'd copy off for this gentleman?

help.gif  -  Another correspondent also needs an instruction sheet, for the J. T. Bowker; please send me a copy or a hi-res scan.  I'll post these sheets, as I did above, so all can benefit.

See also the StromBecKer Continuation Page 1:


  What happens to all this when I DIE or (heaven forfend!) lose interest?  See LEGACY.


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