The toys from Lærdal

Norwegian Children's Museum

Once upon a time there was a clog is an exhibition about Åsmund S. Laerdal as a children's book publisher and toy factory, and its place in toy history. The first company logo was a sailing clog. Lærdal had a unique ability to develop attractive products for children. The company became one of Norway’s largest picture book publishers and toy factories. Lærdal started out as a publisher, but in 1943 began making toys under the name Tomte Småvareindustri. The toys were first made in wood, then in soft vinyl from 1950. The ‘Anne’ dolls and the vinyl ‘Tomte cars’ became international classics. ‘Anne’ was a bestseller in Europe, and 100 million ‘Tomte cars’ were exported to 110 countries.


"Remember, good toys are like vitamines for children."

Åsmund S. Lærdal

In this toy boom in Stavanger, which lasted from 1940 to 1978, the main focus was on children, toys and children’s enjoyment. Visually attractive toys and elements in different shapes and colours are an invitation to play and be creative and active. Here you can sit on the lap of a 3-metre tall Anne-doll, or sit in the driver’s seat of a 2-metre long Tomte car. You can listen to and browse through a selection of digitised picture books and do a large-format puzzle. In the digital doll factory, you can glimpse how the doll was produced and make your own Anne-doll on the screen.


Here you can also discover how Lærdal’s expertise in soft vinyl was used to create new products for emergency life support. The Anne doll got a sister: the CPR manikin ‘Resusci Anne’. Norwegian school children were trained in mouth-to-mouth resuscitation using these dolls. The toy factory is now history, but the soft vinyl and the name ‘Anne’ live on in a new period of industrial development in Stavanger.