Tin toys (actually tin-plated steel) were first made early in the 18th century but it was not until factory production became possible in the 1880s that they became common. Until about 1890, all tin toys were handpainted. After that date, some made using preprinted parts. After the First World War, preprinted parts were used for almost all tin toys.
The outstanding examples were produced in Germany from the 1890s until the Second World War with the leading manufacturers being Bing and Marklin. Bing produced a wide range of toys tailored for different markets (for example, a toy gunboat sold in Germany as the Brandenberg, in Britain as the HMS Terrible and in America as the New York) and for different times (for example, when a new stye of bus was introduced in a city, Bing would release a toy model of it). Until 1923, Bing toys are marked GBN (Getbruder Bing, Nuremburg), later toys are marked BW (Bing Werke). Bing ceased production during the Depression in 1932.
Marklin was founded in 1859 but their business did not really take off until they introduced mass-production techniques in 1888. Their early toys are marked GM (Gebruder Marklin); later ones are marked Markin and have a speeding bicycle logo. Markin toys are still in production
The 1920s saw the first use of toys as marketing tools when Singer Sewing Machines introduced miniature working replicas of its machines. Citroen followed with toy replicas of its cars. Other French toy manufacturers quickly followed models of the Rolls Royce and the Hispano-Suizza being made by JEP; and model racing cars being made by CIJ.
In the 1930s, the movies became an important inspiration for toy makers. Tin figures of Mickey Mouse and Felix the Cat were made in Germany and the first toy spaceship, inspired by Buck Rogers, was made by Louis Marx in the United States in 1934.