It may be an iconic part of not only the history of the United States, but it also represents a symbol of our childhood. For nearly 100 years these little red wagons, which have been pulled down drive ways, sidewalks and across yards, have represented the vehicle of choice for the childhood imagination. But where did they come from and how were they inspired?
Much like the liberty that many early immigrants found coming to the United States Italian Antonio Pasin saw an opportunity to develop something wonderful into a dream for him and his family. At the early age of 16 Mr. Pasin began his company and worked in the early years creating wooden wagons at night and then selling them during the day. As a tribute to the Statue of Liberty he called these first models Liberty Coasters, and eventually he was able to sell these strait to stores with the help of employees.
With the inspiration of the inovation crafted by Henry Ford, Pasin started to utilize the assembly lines during the 1920s as a terrible economic storm was brewing.
Mr. Pasin had an incredible fascination with the invention of the radio, and as a result he renamed his company Radio Steel & Manufacturing. He named his companies first real steel wagon after his other growing interests, radio and flight. The result was the iconic Radio Flyer and these little red wagons have become an important part of childhoods ever since.
During the 1940s production was put on hold when his company was asked to help in the war effort and to suspend toy production. Following this brief interlude the Radio Flyer name became a house hold name by the 1950s. At this point you were starting to see wagons used as promotional items for both toys and movies.
Then, with the celebration of the Radio Flyer’s 50th anniversary, the brand became even more robust with the addition of wheelbarrows, go carts, and scooters being added to the line up.
Through out the 1970s and 80s the company saw these little red wagons become even more popular with new designs such as the Evel Knievel wagon and some added safety features.
The company as a whole started to see more additions as well during the 1990s. It wasn’t until 2003 that Antonio Pasin was as last honored with being added into the Toy Industry’s Hall of Fame. He was the 44th innovator of toys to be honored with this special recognition.
These remarkable red wagons have come a long way from wooden nighttime creation to major industry icon. It is a true example of what determination and imagination can achieve.