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Medina was once ‘Toy Town’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 December 2013 at 12:00 am

Fisher-Price made millions of toys in Medina

Photos by Tom Rivers – Fisher-Price started producing toys in Medina in 1970. This Pull-A-Tune Pony was among the first to be produced in the former Heinz factory on Park Avenue.

MEDINA – For nearly three decades the massive manufacturing space on Park Avenue was a major producer of toys.

Fisher-Price turned the former Heinz plant into a manufacturing center for toys, beginning in 1970. It employed 950 people here at its peak, earning Medina the nickname of “Toy Town.” In 1997, the company left town. It was a devastating blow.

The Medina Historical Society has some of the toys made in Medina as part of a display at the society museum, 406 West Ave.

When Fisher-Price came to Medina 43 years ago, the Pull-A-Tune Pony was a new product. One of the first Pull-A-Tune Pony toys is on display in the museum. It was made in Medina on April 1, 1970.

A decade later the company made topped 100 million toys made from the Medina site. The museum has that milestone toy: a ferry boat (pictured above). That toy was made on May 29, 1980.

I moved to Orleans County in July 1996. My first job was as a reporter at The Albion Advertiser, which no longer exists. It used to be part of the Medina Journal-Register.

I remember when Fisher-Price announced the last wave of closings. There was a sense of doom.

But Medina has bounced back. It has been a gradual process and the community is less tied to one major company these days. It is more diversified, with lots of small businesses. It still has some major manufacturers with Baxter Healthcare, Brunner and Associated Brands, all with several hundred workers. Another company, Worthington Cylinders, has nearly 200 employees, but it plans to close its Medina site in mid-2014.

The Fisher-Price workers must have been proud during the holiday season, knowing so many of the toys they made would be part of Christmas for children all over the world.

The Fisher-Price plant closed not long after the company was acquired by Mattel in 1993. Medina’s recent resurgence is a testimony to the community’s resilience after such a crushing blow.