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Irwin Toy

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Title: Irwin Toy  
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Subject: Ken Westerfield, Deal or No Deal (U.S. game show), Liberty Village, Toy companies of Canada, Pound Puppies
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Irwin Toy

Irwin Toy Limited
Industry Toys, games
Founded 1926
Headquarters Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Key people
Sam and Beatrice Irwin
Slogan We remember when we were kids!

Irwin Toy Limited was a Canadian distributor and manufacturer of toys. It was Canada's oldest toy company and remained independent and family owned until 2001.


  • History 1
  • Brands and Toys distributed 2
  • Toys and Games Manufactured 3
  • References 4


The company began in 1926 as an importer and distributor of dry goods and clothing, located in Sam and Beatrice Irwin's house. Later, the company moved to a warehouse in the west end of Toronto and focused mainly on toys, Sam and Beatrice's sons had taken over management in the years to follow.

Most of Irwin's profits came from distributing other (usually American) companies' toys. Almost all popular toys available in Canada until the 1990s were distributed by Irwin. Major American companies wished to sell their toys in Canada, but did not open Canadian branches because of the lower population and tariffs which would generate less income. Irwin's success came mainly due to their licensing and contract manufacture of American companies Kenner and Parker, where Irwin was the Canadian importer and distributor of their products.

The business found success with the help of the Hula Hoop, Slinky, Frisbee, and later on in the century with the popular Star Wars action figures, Care Bears and the Easy-Bake Oven. In the early 1980s, the Atari Video Computer System was a success, and Irwin was the Canadian distributor. Irwin would also acquire the rights to the Sega video game brand in Canada later on. The video game sales helped fuel revenues of $100 million and growth for the company. The company also had a junior shareholders program to get kids interested in the toy company and introduce them to the stock market. The company had 350 employees at their downtown Toronto factory.

1972-1987 Ed Hurst, Jerry Inch and Bob Blakely, in charge of Irwins

  • Ashdown, Simon (1 July 2001). "Irwin Toy at 75". Kidscreen. Retrieved 9 December 2013. 
  • [4]
  • Toronto Star Article [5]
  • [6]
  1. ^ "Toronto Ultimate Club Hall of Fame Ken Westerfield". Hall of Fame Website. Retrieved October 19, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Toronto Ultimate Club History". Toronto Ultimate Club. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 


  • Dragon Ball Z Action Figures & Items
  • Frisbee manufactured in Canada under a Wham-O license.
  • Girder & Panel Building Sets
  • Globetrotters
  • I See It!
  • i-Top
  • Interior Decorator Set (with Marvin Glass and Associates) 1964
  • Lazer Doodle
  • IToys LCD Handheld & Deluxe Games.
  • ME2
  • My One and Only guy dolls "Cliff the Aviator"
  • Powerplay Hockey
  • ReBoot Action Figures
  • Sailor Moon Adventure Dolls & Other Sailor Moon Items
  • Skwooshi
  • SpectraColor
  • Suzie Stretch dolls
  • Top Corner Hockey
  • Trouble (usually under the name "Frustration")

Toys and Games Manufactured

Brands and Toys distributed

Following liquidation, the company officially closed down, and in 2003, the company was re-purchased by the former employees, George and Peter Irwin.

As Irwin Toy faced financial and business difficulty, the company was sold to a private investment group, LivGroup Ltd. of Toronto in 2001 for approximately $55 million. Eighteen months after the buyout, Irwin Toy, now owned by Richard Ivey and Jean Marie Halde of Toronto, declared bankruptcy and entered into creditor supported liquidation. The original factory was sold to developers for $10 million and converted into a condominium called Toy Factory Lofts.

In 1989, Irwin Toy challenged the constitutionality a Quebec law prohibiting advertising directed toward children. The Irwin Toy Ltd. v. Quebec (Attorney General) case reached the Supreme Court and resulted in a landmark ruling regarding the interpretation of freedom of expression provision in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

During the 1980s and 1990s, major American companies such as Hasbro, Mattel, and Kenner, acquired many of the companies that Irwin did business with. In the 1980s, with the introduction of the Free Trade Agreement and later, the North American Free Trade Agreement, it became less expensive for American companies to form Canadian branches. Irwin lost many business deals and major toy companies began to distribute toys themselves.


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