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Travel guide for Thuringia, Germany

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A visit to the "Deutsche Spielzeugmuseum" (Toy Museum) in Sonneberg, Thuringia, Germany

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Sonneberg, toy museum, Thuringia, tourism, travel guide
Military toys were always popular

Many parents in Europe are against these kind of toys. After having experienced the war in person or seeing the results on TV or in magazines makes this understandable.
Nevertheless, when I was little I liked them too and I believe that it needs much more to make young people to peace keepers than to keep them away from the real world and isolate them for a limited time. After a certain age they are allowed anyhow to do what they want and parents have only a very limited power to influence them. It is better not keep them away from the reality and teach them to do the right things as long as they are young and listen to you.
The museum shows military toys from different periods. The real boom started in the 19 th century when all kind of figurines made out of pewter or lead became popular. Numerous battle situations could be arranged and children could play for hours to kill the "bad ones".

Sonneberg, toy museum, Thuringia, tourism, travel guide
Toys made during the Hitler regime

Naturally, this all happened with the blessing of the governments in power and the industry had no objections - and as I can see not too much has changed in many countries. Just look at the violent computer games, certain movies, faked weapons and the situation at school. I do not know a single case of such things before the sixties, especially not in Germany.
For that reason see all the military toys as part of history and do not think about Germans as war mongers. Whatever the situation is, we are all militarists or we are too peaceful wimps. In realty, we just learned our lessons. When do other nations follow?
Most of these toys are certainly today very valuable collectibles. Whenever, I checked antique stores in Germany, I could not see any for sale.

Sonneberg, toy museum, Thuringia, tourism, travel guide
Much more peaceful - wooden jumping jacks

Many of the shown wooden toys are still made in certain areas in Thuringia, Saxony and Bavaria. We offered them for many years. We traveled to the little home based companies and selected them. It was always a pleasure to meet the down to earth craftspeople and to make business with them.
Unfortunately, we experienced lots of breakage during shipping and transportation to shows.

Sonneberg, toy museum, Thuringia, tourism, travel guide
More a collectible than a toy

Sonneberg, toy museum, Thuringia, tourism, travel guide
Pewter was not only used for soldiers

Wooden toys have a long history in Germany. At the beginning of the 18 th century it started to become some kind of home based industry. This is still the case as you can see, especially when you visit the "Erzgebirge" in Saxony in the area around Seiffen. We saw the complete family, including grandma and grandpa and the children working on wooden miniatures, nutcrackers, smokers etc.

Sonneberg, toy museum, Thuringia, tourism, travel guide

Sonneberg, toy museum, Thuringia, tourism, travel guide
The quality of the wooden toys is amazing

The toys shown her are top quality which is difficult to find today where the little companies have to compete against cheap imports from far east. But you still can find suppliers who are committed to the traditional craftsmanship.

Figurines made out of pewter or even lead were very popular. They are still made for collectors. However, lead is banned today after everybody knows how dangerous it can be. We imported some from the United Kingdom.
This hand painted hunting scene is one of the many displayed examples. I am sure the children had lots of fun to arrange different sceneries and to use their imagination. Maybe some allowed the deer to escape and to disappoint the hunters.
I became convinced that many of the "old" toys inspired the fantasy of the kids much more than most of the toys which are offered today. Toy makers from all over the world should visit this museum to get some "new" ideas. I am sure the visit will pay off if they come with an open mind.

The Toy Museum in Sonneberg, Thuringia

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