Harmonica toys were a phenomenom in their time and they were created by chance. In the transport trolleys of the Fatra company there lay heaps of hoses for flushers. Only a person like Libuše Nikolová came out with this invention. Libuše saw animals in those hoses. The first pioneer between flexible toys was the cat in 1962.
Designer Libuše Nikolová used the bellows tube from the flush tank, that she turned into a flexible hull of animal. Details such as eyes and muzzle were handpainted and then they were blowed by hot air. For animal’s bears and tails were used plastic tubes. When the toy is pressed , the toy makes sound thanks to a whistle that was inserted into the pipe hose. Ten animals and one animalbaby were created on this principle. The toys were sold in disassembled form. The children had to build them on their own, which encouradged the development of children’s thinking.
Designer made not only a toy, but she also invented the graphic and the way how to package the toys. Her work was complex.
The cat was the first and the most popular. It is known that during the firt year, 270 pieces of cat were produced. That is a big ammount of toys. For the whole time of production, which was until 1970, were produced at least 1.2 million cats. Unimaginable quantity!
But the cat was notthe only harmonica toy. He had many of animal siblings and even one human sibling-baby. Second most successfull toy was dog called Rafan. Other animals included tiger, panther, lion, crocodile, fox, donkey, ram and goat. Each of the toy was original.
Toys collected awards in competitions. Also people abroad liked them. People liked them so much that they even copied them in Hong Kong.
Toys were patented as a flexible plastic toy in 1963.
Toys with harmonica body are now icons of Czech design. Cat by Libuše Niklová was ranked in CZECH 100 DESIGN ICON in 2005. In 2012, as a part of the announcement of the national CZECH GRAND DESIGN award, Libuše Niklová was introduced as a famous in connection with the Czech design.