The Fisher Price company began making the "chunky little people" in 1990 after ceasing production of the original little people. Apparently there was some concern that the smaller people posed a swallowing threat to small children. There does not seem to be a concensus regarding the date of the first year of production but some of the chunky people are copywrited on the bottom "1990" so I believe that this might be accepted as the first year rather than 1991. Most of the chunkies carry this 1990 date even though some were not produced until later or the sets they are in are later. You may find some discrepancy between the dates in my information and those of other sources but as much as possible, I have used the dates off the toys or the toy packaging and that date may be a copyright date rather than a start of production date.
Initially, many of the same styles were carried over. For instance, the first chunky people cars featured the same primary colors with a white grill found on the original little people cars. The mini van was nearly identical with the 5 hole fiberboard platform for 5 little people replaced with a 2 two hole platform for 2 chunky people. These toys eventually evolved into their own distinctive style. After 1996, the people were replaced by a more articulated style of chunky people that are still in production. Many of these original chunky little people and the accessories can be quite hard to find because of the limited period in which they were produced. They have an interesting history of manufacturing, being made in the United States, Mexico and in Asia. Some sets contain parts made in various countries. They were marketed around the world. I have a mint in box school bus that is made in Mexico but has text in two languages other than English on the box!
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I am in no way affiliated with the Fisher Price company. This information is accurate to the best of my knowledge. Please let me know if you find errors or can contribute any additional information. Thanks!!
© Ila Ausland January 2000