Everyone of a certain age remembers that famous scene in ‘Big’, where Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia are in a toy store and play ‘Heart and Soul’ on the giant piano keys on the floor. Every kid at some point has wished they were Josh Baskin, a young boy trapped in a grown-up body, during the 80’s and early 90’s. Well, that magical movie moment was filmed inside the famous FAO Schwarz toy store on New York City’s legendary 5th Avenue. To this day people remember that scene and that store fondly, especially around Christmastime. It was therefore a sad day back in 2015 when this wonderful kids’ playground closed its doors for the last time.
FAO Schwarz had a toy store in New York as long ago as 1870, but they moved into their flagship 5th Avenue location in 1986, just in time to attract the Big movie location scouts. Kids could wander through the huge store’s three levels, play with toys and eat candy. It was true heaven for any child, including the fully grown variety. In another classic scene in the film, just before he discovers the piano, Hanks’ character is seen running around the store, playing laser tag with his best friend. Toys ‘R’ Us, the owners of the Schwartz brand at the time of closing, did say they would try open somewhere else in Manhattan, but this has as yet not materialised, and they have subsequently sold the name to another company.
Herberger's is taking the opportunity to introduce the FAO Schwarz brand to a new generation
The sad closing day of the 5th Avenue FAO Schwartz flagship store in 2015
Now, department store Herberger’s, with locations in Malls across the Midwestern United States, has brought the FAO Schwarz brand back to life for this coming Christmas. Herberger’s, as well as other Bon-Ton department stores are bringing back 45 classic FAO Schwarz toys, including stuffed animals, wooden play blocks, metal cars and Christmas decorations. These will be sold in concessions within the stores. Of course, the classic electronic floor piano will be included, so get working on your chopsticks! FAO Schwarz has always concentrated on those more classic toys one sees the elves at the North Pole making in Christmas movies, and this is reflected in the new collection.
The toys being sold under the FAO brand will be of a more premium variety, so they will be slightly more pricey. However, these are beautifully made toys which will last generations, and of course the Schwarz label will give you a little nostalgic grin every time you see it. For me personally, we were in New York City mere months before the store’s closure - I fully intended to visit and pick up my very own Schwarz teddy-bear, but was devastated when I heard that the store was no longer there.
How the new Herberger's concessions will look. They're open from tomorrow
A classic scene in the film 'Big', with Tom Hanks running around the FAO Schwarz toy store playing laser tag
There were other FAO Schwarz stores in American Malls such as the Nicolett Mall and Mall of America in Minnesota, but both of these closed in the late 90’s. It is therefore fantastic that Herberger’s cares and remembers this great brand enough to revive it, be it only in pop-up form. Who knows though, if it is a successful revival they may very well consider making more permanent concessions within their huge department stores.
Selected Herberger’s stores will hold ribbon cutting events tomorrow (November 4th), and the first 25 kids through the doors will get a free toy. So if you’re anywhere near, get down there! You also stand a chance of winning an eight-foot stuffed giraffe if you upload yourself with a classic FAO Schwarz toy on Instagram. Bon-Ton are going all out to attract the younger parents, using social media to introduce them to this classic American brand. We suggest if you’re not familiar, grab a copy of Big; you will not be disappointed!