With giant stuffed plush toys, sometimes having stuffed animals that are much smaller in size becomes insignificant. That’s not to say smaller soft toys are no longer just as loved as they once were, but when giant plush toys come onto the scene, they inadvertently make everything else pale in comparison.If it weren’t for the export of toys around the world, who knows what would have ever happened to the very first stuffed animal as we know it today – the teddy bear. Before the mass manufacturing of toys was ever established in the United States and Britain, the birth place of the teddy bear – Germany – was producing a trade catalogue called Hieronymus Bestelmeier. It was first published in 1792 and went on to continue being published for 60 years after that. It was this very catalogue which helped develop toy exports to the U.S. and Britain.In 1803, Bestelmeier’s black and white catalog was chock full of illustrations of mechanical toys, balancing clowns, toy rifles and pistols, joke toys, miniature houses, garden layouts with fences, watering cans, gazebos, small cooking stoves with pots and pans, trees and plants in tubs, to name just a few. To represent them abroad, from the mid-1850’s, Nuremberg companies had agents, some of whom went on to exhibit in 1851, at London’s Great Exhibition. It was the first international trade fair of its kind and it was key in recognizing that the future of the toy industry was going to be based in machine-based mass produced items as opposed to craft productions which produced single, one of a kind toys. The exhibition included toy and doll manufacturers as well as manufacturers of different machines that were used to process specific items – rubber and plastic, for example.In affluent middle classes found in Britain, German toys found a market that grew quickly thanks to the wealthy people found there. As consumer demand grew, so did specialist toy shops which began wholesale purchasing and relied heavily on the quick availability of toys. In order to replenish retailers shelves, industrial, large-scale mass productions were essential in combination with specialist importers of toys.In the United States, things were rapidly changing there as well. Metal toys, coming out of modern production methods were on the road to being quickly introduced. At the Francis, Field, and Francis factory located in Philadelphia, from 1838, tin toys were being produced there. The first clockwork toys in the U.S. were produced in 1856 by George Brown and Company. This was a period in time when it was dubbed the “Golden Age of American tin toy production,” that went on to last right until the end of the century.Out of the world-wide manufacturing and selling of toys, eventually came the giant stuffed plush animal. The licensed character merchandising of stuffed animals began in 1902 with Peter Rabbit; Beatrix Potter, the creator of the Peter Rabbit book series, gave permission to her publisher Frederick Warne, to market the rights of the soft toy. While it would still be a number of years before giant stuffed plush would be introduced to the toy market, the stage had been set – both with the 1902 creation of the teddy bear, and with the soft toy version of Peter Rabbit.Copyright Shelley Vassall, 2010.