Here, see a collection of vintage Mr Potato Head toys that used to be available from the 1950s through the 1990s — and some you can still get today! (Gotta say, we highly approve of the 70s era makeover.)
In addition to this collection of photos of these vintage playsets, you can also meet the man who invented the iconic toy many decades ago.
How the original Mr Potato Head was invented (1956)
Adapted from an article in the Lancaster New Era (Pennsylvania) September 5, 1956
One day, bad weather kept George Lerner’s children inside, and, bored, they asked him if he could think up something they could play. They were tired of their old toys.
Remembering a game he had played in rainy days during his own childhood, Lerner, a commercial artist from Freeport, Long Island, got out some potatoes and carrots. Then, using collar buttons, toothpicks and other odds and ends, he began to turn the vegetables into lifelike people. The children were delighted.
“If my kids get a kick out of a simple thing like this, why wouldn’t other kids?” Lerner asked himself.
The result was “Mr. Potato-Head,” a collection of plastic ears, noses, mouths and eyes that children could press into vegetables and make amusing caricatures of human faces. The game became a surprise big-seller.
“They told me that nobody would buy a game that merely called for making faces out of vegetables and fruit,” recalled Lerner, whose royalties now would enable him to buy several vegetable or fruit farms if he chose.
Lerner, who now works full time in his basement laboratory developing new toys, has this to say about his success. “Unfortunately, many people, when they do get a good profitable idea, don’t have enough faith in it. They’re afraid it’s too simple.”
The original Mr Potato Head: Funny-face kit box front (package from 1952)
Any fruit or vegetable makes a funny face man
Mr “Potato Head” is fun for ALL the family — Mr Potato Head kit can be assembled into innumerable characters. A few suggestions are shown. Variations can also be made with clay.
Original Mr Potato Head box back (1952)
Anyone can follow the enclosed simple, step-by-step construction – Hasbro – Made in USA
The Original Mr Potato Head & Mrs Potato Head – King & Queen of Laughs (1950s)
New funny face kit transforms ordinary fruits and vegetables into comical characters.
Children have hours of fun giving personalities and names to the characters they create. Contest novelty at parties. Includes 2 plastic bodies, plus noses, eyes, mustache, pipe, eyeglasses, etc.
Original Mr Potato Head & Mrs Potato Head: The joyful toy of 1001 faces! (1953)
Old Mrs Potato Head toy set (c1950s)
Vintage Mr & Mrs Potato Head toy box (1960s)
Mr and Mrs Potato Head are a happy family with their NEW baby — for more exciting play
Original Mr Potato Head: Toy faces for fruit & vegetables (early 1960s)
Change fruits and vegetables into funny lovable friends!
Jumpin Mr Potato Head vintage wind-up toy (1966)
Original Mr Potato Head On the Farm toy set (1960s)
Original Mr Potato Head Play Sets (1969)
Vintage 1970s Mr Potato Head toy: Your funny lovable friend (1972)
An invention that made it: George Lerner’s original Mr Potato Head (1976)
Newsday (Suffolk Edition – Melville, New York) September 12, 1976
George Lerner invented Mr Potato Head. A commercial artist, he was thumbing through a magazine one day in 1950, when he spied an ad that featured a closeup of an orange with a crude little body and map pins for eyes, nose and mouth.
Something clicked, and he went to work on a kit children could use to make a doll from a potato: an assortment of small plastic features, felt eyebrows and mustaches, a little hat.
In two weeks, he was ready. It took two and a half unemployed years, however, to find a toy company willing to produce the thing and pay him a royalty.
It was worth the wait: Mr Potato Head became an instant best seller and has remained a top staple in the industry.
Today, nearly a quarter-century later, into its second generation of purchasers, the item still sells a million or two a year. (The newest version comes complete with a plastic potato and is available with a variety of outfits.)
George Lerner could live very comfortably on his income from that one idea that popped up 26 years ago. He’s still designing toys, though, and now is in partnership with Brooklynite Julie Elman. Their newest is Good Girl, billed as the world’s first toilet-trained doll (packaged complete with a mini-potty).
Lerner tinkers at his home in Freeport, Long Island, in a basement workshop and an upstairs studio. “Like most inventors,” Lerner says quietly, “I thought I had a million-dollar idea. I was right.”
Retro Romper Room Mr Potato Head toy box (1976)
Hasbro Preschool Mr Potato Head (1982)
The world’s most famous potato — It’s your friendly, funny, fascinating face-making pal…
“Mr Potato Head’s New Tool Set” book (1985)
MR POTATO HEAD MEMORIES: See new versions of these old toys here!
Mr & Mrs Potato Head manual for Random House Software (1985)
Playskool Toy Mr Potato Head (1986)
Mr Potato Head. When little hands get hold of his big easy parts, no one can keep a straight face.
Remember him? For 35 years, he’s helped millions of kids develop a sense of humor — and coordination! And isn’t it a good feeling to discover that the same toy you loved and laughed with is still part of the Playskool Years?
Vintage Mrs Potato Head toy box (1996)
Since 1954, Mrs Potato Head has only had “eyes” for Mr Potato Head. With her positive attitude and unique personal style, Mrs Potato Head is one hot potato! Use her funny face pieces and your imagination to create all sorts of wacky looks.
Mix and match the pieces to create funny looks! — Includes 16 pieces! — Pieces store inside!