The Ideal Toy Company (usually just called Ideal) was a large American toy company which existed for much of the 20th century. The company was responsible for launching Rubik's Cube as an international craze from 1980-2.
Ideal Toys was founded in 1907 by Morris and Rose Michtom. Just four years earlier they had created the original Teddy bear. By the 1970s the company had become one of the USA's top toy companies, and were also a major presence in the U.K., France and West Germany. They produced many well-known games such as Buck-a-roo!, KerPlunk, and the Magic 8-ball.
In 1979 they were approached by Tom Kramer of the UK-based Seven Towns Limited who showed them Rubik's cube (still known at that time as the "Magic Cube"). Kramer arranged a worldwide deal with Ideal in September 1979, initially for a million cubes. Ideal rebranded the Magic Cube as "Rubik's Cube", and launched it at the international toy fairs in January 1980. In May 1980 they began an advertising campaign in the USA which initiated the worldwide Rubik's Cube craze.
However Rubik's Cube was Ideal's last great success and it was beginning to fade as a toy company. In April 1982 the company was sold to CBS (which had its own toy division in the 1980s) in a transaction valued at about $58 million. However CBS moved out of toys a few years later and the Ideal brand passed to Viewmaster in 1987 and then was eventually absorbed by Mattel in 1997.
As well as Rubik's Cube, Ideal produced several other branded twisty puzzles during the 1980-2 cubing craze. These include:
- Alexander's Star
- Babylon Tower
- Missing Link
- Rubik's Cube Key Chain
- Rubik's Cube Perpetual Calendar
- Rubik's Pocket Cube (the original 2x2x2 cube)
- Rubik's Revenge (the original 4x4x4 cube)
- Rubik's Wahn (a 5x5x5 "Professors" cube sold in Germany)
During the 1980s cube craze Ideal also published their own solution guide known as the The Ideal Solution. They were also responsible for four Rubik's Cube newsletters (May 1982; August 1982; Winter 1983; August 1983).