|Added Sep. 2005. Yes, we do update the site!
Above, you see some typical Rempel squeeze toys...which fetch only a fraction of what people pay for Froggy the Gremlin!
The averge Rempel duck, chicken, or other barnyard creature usually costs $10 to $20 on eBay, depending on condition.
Who knew? Not Rempel...he was selling a whole menagerie of creatures, and doing quite well for himself, before Froggy ever
Rempel was located in Akron, Ohio, the "rubber capital" of the world. That was where B.F. Goodrich started.
So it was there that Dietrich Gustav Rempel set up company in 1946, marketing his "Sunnyslope" line of rubber barnyard
Rempel was born February 12, 1904 in Mariupol, Russia and emigrated in 1923 to the U.S.A. He married Ruth Rempel (born
May 27, 1904) and worked a large variety of odd jobs before becoming a development engineer in Barberton, Ohio for Sun Rubber.
Just a few years later he used his patented Roto-cast process to create his own line of rubber animal toys. Rempel sculpted
the original toys himself out of clay, and was such a perfectionist he often changed the look of his creatures and made different
variations over the years. In his process, molds of clay were then made into plaster production molds. The liquid rubber was
poured into the mold, a spin process absorbed the water in the latex, and then the little creatures were tossed into a gas
heated oven for a while. The last step was to paint the toys. Each mold was used for "30 runs" and about a dozen
toys could be made from each run.
Rubber historians (a flexible bunch) credit Rempel with making innovations in steam and pressure and the use of steel
Rempel's menagerie included Perky the dog, Cuddly the cat, and Chubby the pig. Once he had established himself, The Remp
added Fleecy the lamb, Milky the cow, Squawky the duck, Balky the mule, Hoppy the rabbit, Yippy the chick, and Frisky the
Rempel also made these characters in ceramic versions.
Thanks to the input of webvisitor Cornelia Shields, I can add a bit more about "Deegie and the Princess," the
children's book Ruth Rempel wrote, which was illustrated by her rubber-hubby Dietrich G. Rempel in 1929. Cornelia says, "In
the story, a little farm boy named Deegie makes animals of clay to replace pets blown away in a storm. From the information
you gave, it's easy to see the inspiration for the boy's name (Dietrich Gustav, D. G.) and his great perfectionism. His perfectionism,
grief, and love are so great the fairy princess brings his clay animals to life. Since Dietrich Rempel designed them, it's
easy to understand his artistic talent to draw them just as he envisioned. People in search of this book rave about the illustrations."
At this point it's hard to say for sure if Mr. Rempel's sketches were transformed into rubber figures at Sun Rubber, or
if he saved these and waited till he formed his own company years later. The book can fetch between $50 and $100, and there's
also a 45rpm version for the illiterate. It's narrated by Rempel, and has sold for the same high price when it's turned up
Before Rempel got the assignment of manufacturing a likeness of Froggy, they had their own frog, known as "Croaker."
Some antique stores sell this bogus frog as "Froggy the Gremlin." That is, until they are hit with a pie, stomped
in the foot, or jeered mightily for not knowing any better.
Just to confuse things, TWO versions of CROAKER were made. Same large size. The more common version is on the left, which
has smaller nostrils, a less bulbous snout, less defined "fingers," and a different style of belted shorts.
Below the two Croakers is "Peeper" and his gift box. It's theorized that Rempel re-named "Croaker"
because it seemed a bit macabre, or perhaps not distinctive enough from all kinds of similarly named frog toys and lures.
It also seems that both Croaker and Peeper may have been made in large and small sizes, but the large one is more common,
it is it is.
Rempel was such a success that his company had over 40 workers and they were making 6,000 toys every day. The huge 15,000
square foot plant was located at 404 Morgan Avenue in Akron.
By the time Andy's Gang was on television, and fans could actually see Froggy cavorting and hopping back and forth, Rempel
had over 500 employees and four locations for manufacture and warehousing
The company branched out to make other items, and in helping our country during the Korean war, Rempel's company manufactured
everything from crash pads for tanks to rubber cups and even rubber pontoons for the Corps of Engineers.
About 50 different rubber toys were made by Rempel through the mid 50's, and Rempel's NEW process included adding a urethane
coating. Some other "personalities" besides Froggy the Gremlin included Popeye, Wimpy, Olive Oyl, Lassie and Santa
Claus. It seemed like there would always be a bright future for them and for rubber squeak toys. But...
Eventually Andy's Gang went off the air, and Rempel went off to West Point, Mississippi. It was there that he built a
76,000 square foot plant and manufactured a whole new line-up of items including Spring-type rocking horses and outdoor play
|Josie and Fleecy - two different lambs! Note that Fleecy has a swell addition, the rope and bell.
By 1965 the Rempel catalog was less involved with squeak toys than with bigger, higher priced items.
The last of the rubber squeeze toys were issued in 1968. Today, you don't see many rubber squeeze items in toy stores.
Just in pet shops (the fabulous noisy rubber dog bone) and maybe some stores offering infant items.
Rempel was sold to Blazon, a company that made outdoor swing sets, and eventually Blazon was sold to Leisure Group, known
for Flexible Flyers and swimming pool equipment.
Mr. Rempel died in March of 1987, in Akron, Ohio. His wife Ruth had died in March of 1986. But...as folks like to say....their
work lives on.