We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Are Paper Toys?

Marjorie McAtee
By
Updated Jan 29, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Paper toys are typically toys made from paper products. Paper dolls, which consist of flat paper cut-outs, are a popular type of paper toy. Paper models, which involve folding paper into often complex three-dimensional shapes, are another type. Origami, the paper-folding art, may be used to create paper toys. Paper toys have probably existed for centuries, and their manufacture continues to this day.

Historians believe that Asian cultures have created paper figures since at least 900 CE. These figures are believed to have been of the three-dimensional type. Two-dimensional paper dolls seem to have first appeared in France in the 18th century. The mass manufacture of paper dolls is believed to have followed in the 1790s. These two-dimensional figures of young women generally came equipped with several paper cut-outs of various garments, made attachable to the doll by a system of tabs and slots.

Paper dolls were widely manufactured and considered very popular in the United States from about the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s. The earliest paper doll figures were usually anonymous young women. Later, dolls were given names and personalities and some dolls were made in the likeness of royal figures and other contemporary celebrities.

Another type of paper toy, the paper model, gained popularity during World War II, when the supplies used to make most types of three-dimensional toys ran low due to rationing. During these years, toy manufacturers often offered paper airplane models, paper boat models, and other three-dimensional paper figures. In the United States, manufacturers are known to have capitalized on the popularity of paper dolls and other paper toys by including paper cut-outs in their advertisements, or offering free toys to customers who returned proof of purchase.

The construction of paper toys usually involves little more than folding, and perhaps cutting, one or more sheets of paper. The Japanese paper-folding art, origami, can be used to create paper toys. Origami typically offers the opportunity to construct a wide range of complex paper toys, including ten-pin bowling sets, jumping frogs, and building block towers.

Toys made out of paper generally continue to remain popular among collectors as well as children. Manufacturers continue to produce paper toys, many of them quite intricate in their construction. Paper-doll collecting is a recognized hobby, with conventions, auctions, and catalogs where enthusiasts can admire the collections of others and increase their own collections.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Marjorie McAtee
By Marjorie McAtee
Marjorie McAtee, a talented writer and editor with over 15 years of experience, brings her diverse background and education to everything she writes. With degrees in relevant fields, she crafts compelling content that informs, engages, and inspires readers across various platforms. Her ability to understand and connect with audiences makes her a skilled member of any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
By browncoat — On Jun 27, 2014

@croydon - I particularly like paper balloons, which you can make as origami, or just buy in Japanese stores. It's a little wax paper ball that inflates when you blow into the hole in the top and you can bat it around with your hands. It's a fairly traditional toy.

I guess the other traditional paper toy would be the kite, although I don't know how many people actually make them with paper these days.

By croydon — On Jun 27, 2014

@KoiwiGal - You can also get templates online and print out your own paper dolls, with clothes and things to change if you're inclined to do that. Or you can make your own paper toys with origami guides online. They won't have the same kind of collectible value that official paper dolls might have, but they would still be cute to put on a shelf with the other ones.

I was a bit of an origami fan when I was a kid though and made all kinds of different toys with them, for my friends and myself.

By KoiwiGal — On Jun 26, 2014

There are some awesome modern paper dolls out there that you can collect. Some of them are meant to be humorous, but you can get them for various characters on TV as well and they can be almost like works of art.

I don't have many, but I do have a few, because they are one of the cheaper options for collectibles and they tend to be fairly high quality.

Marjorie McAtee
Marjorie McAtee
Marjorie McAtee, a talented writer and editor with over 15 years of experience, brings her diverse background and education to everything she writes. With degrees in relevant fields, she crafts compelling content that informs, engages, and inspires readers across various platforms. Her ability to understand and connect with audiences makes her a skilled member of any content creation team.
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.