Vidalis brothers’ company has been in the toy construction from the mid-50s to the mid-90s. Joy-Toy managed to enter every Greek home and offered countless hours of safe and healthy play.
in a basement, or a garage
“When Axis occupation of Greece was over, we were young people looking for a job. We were five brothers and our father earned a modest living as a furniture maker. My oldest brother John, as a graduate of Athens University of Economics and Business, took a job in the accounting office of a plastic company and noted the economic growth of the industry. Back then we weren’t familiar with the daily use of plastic products… So, we had the idea of starting an artisanal enterprise with plastic toys.”
That was the beginning of Joy-Toy’s history; the beginning of one of the most successful toy manufacturers, that literally charmed every Greek family with its famous toy cars.
From the balcony of his house in Pefki, 88-year-old Lefteris Vidalis (now the only one alive of the three brothers who founded the company) describes in remarkable detail how three people who started with a simple idea in a basement in Kypseli, managed to create a factory and how they followed, a few decades later, the steep decreasing glide path of the Greek gaming industry.
“My brothers, john and Vangelis, made a promissory note and ordered a manually-operated machine, a small press. They started with a piggy bank, a trinket, a small dining room and a small doll in the mid-1950s. All three together now, we sold them in haberdashery stores in Athens. Back then, it was fashionable to make lollipops with a stick. My brother, John, had the idea to add a doll to a stick. The idea worked, we made some money, we got a new, semi-automatic machine.
The company was named “A. Vidalis Bros”. The first large order came … via detergent. ” When Tide came to Greece, they were looking to put plastic animals inside as a gift. We got the job; it was our first big order. We got new automatic presses; all in the basement of our house in Kypseli. “Many young people in the neighborhood worked for us.”
The move, however, that “placed’ the company in the hearts of the children of the time was the creation of our famous cars. “We made our first race (PORSCHE No 1).
The cars were being bought; they were eagerly coveted. We soon started to make only cars. The space was no longer enough, so we took a plot of land in Lykovrisi and built a factory. From the warehouses we went to salesmen; then the shops found out about us and placed orders for our cars directly.
We started packing. Each car had its own number. But we also wanted a brand, so we created the logo and the name Joy-Toy “. Our car sets were quickly enriched. Racing cars, passenger cars, trucks, concrete mixers and buses. These were followed by small accessories, such as traffic lights (which changed color thanks to a simple mechanism), the gas station, the traffic signs. Perhaps, the most famous of all was a Mercedes pullman. “My brother, Vangelis, went to the company and asked for permission.
They gave it to him, without money. We struggled a lot with the design, and Vangelis, an excellent craftsman, needed five years for the molds. A few years later, at the toy fair in Nuremberg, a German comes, looks at it and orders 100,000 pieces. It was a great success. ” Joy-Toy industry’ s success, until the late 70’s, was due, in part, to the much higher prices of imported (mainly from Germany and America) toys. “The recession began in the late 1980s. “Traders were going to China and coming back with whole containers; the market was flooded with cheap toys.”
Joy-Toy closed in the mid-1990s, and the company was sold along with its building in 2003.
“Every now and then a collector finds us and asks for cars from the ones we made. I also hear from my children that there are people who still admire them, look for them! “