Marx Toys to be featured on ‘American Pickers’
MOUNDSVILLE — A local collector who turned his love of old toys into a popular museum will be featured in an upcoming episode of A&E’s “American Pickers.”
Show co-hosts Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz visited Moundsville’s now-closed Marx Toy Museum in May to film for an episode of the show set to air at 9 p.m. on Nov. 13. As part of the upcoming episode, Francis Turner, toy collector and former curator of the Marx Toy Museum, will showcase his collection, which centers around local history.
Turner grew up in Preston County in a small area called Birds Creek, near Kingwood, and said he remembers receiving a toy missile launcher as a child and searching his father’s garbage truck for toys.
In 1998, Turner purchased a 1950s grocery store building on Second Street in Moundsville and spent the next two years remodeling the building. In 2011, Turner registered the museum as a nonprofit organization complete with a board of directors.
The museum honored the old Marx company, which operated in Glen Dale from 1919 to the 1980s.
According to Turner, one of the most memorable toys from the Glen Dale factory was the Marx Big Wheel. During its prime, the factory ran three assembly lines, with each line making about 1,000 Big Wheels per shift — a total of 9,000 per day.
In addition to the Big Wheel, some other popular Marx toys included the Green Machine, the Johnny West series and Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots.
Turner said the American Pickers hosts visited the museum in May, arriving in their signature van with a small staff after he gave them a call when he heard about their stop in West Virginia.
“I’ve done a lot of hard work to promote the Marx name and keep it alive,” Turner said. “Hopefully this will bring a focus to the valley, which was the heart of the Marx Toy Co.”
Turner added although the Moundsville museum closed in 2016, his mission continues.
“I continue to buy and sell Marx toys and I have a project under way that will continue to preserve the history of Marx,” he said.
Frank Turner’s son, Jason Turner, said Marx Toys are a crucial part of their family dynamic.
“Marx Toys has been a big part of my family and our relationship, and we’ve had a lot of fun over the years collecting and operating the museum,” Jason Turner said. “I think the American Pickers episode will get people talking about Marx again. Sometimes after companies close, they get forgotten. We want to bring Marx back into conversations and get people to remember those iconic toys of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.”