The Retro Fun of Westminster Inc. Toys

Kitsch niche


Today’s third graders may turn up their noses at any toy that doesn’t contain a microchip, but fortunately for Atlanta-based Westminster Inc., their parents have no such scruples. Apparently whoopee cushions and potato guns are timeless.

Cofounder Max Ker-Seymer calls his products “old-tech” rather than “low-tech.” Mostly designed here and manufactured overseas, they range from puzzles and air hockey tables to remote-controlled flying spacemen. The biggest seller is eyeglasses made from a drinking straw.

Westminster’s first hit was the Tumble Buggy. Ker-Seymer sold 1.7 million of the battery-operated flipping cars in its first two years, mostly by demonstrating the car in malls. Now a wholesale distributor, the firm caters to independent drug stores, airport shops, and museums—including Richards Variety Store in Atlanta and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Ker-Seymer was recently surprised to spot one of his flashlights in a gift shop in Amman, Jordan. His firm now has thirty-five local employees, plus an office in Hong Kong.

There’s no science to spotting a fun toy, says Ker-Seymer. “We are very fortunate in not having to answer to a focus group, as a lot of our items would be given the thumbs-down. Something like our Pull My Finger Pen would be one of the first to go!”

Photograph by Kaylinn Gilstrap

Betsy Riley is our executive editor.
Learn more about herContact her

Related Content