What is a Radio Flyer Wagon?

Brendan McGuigan
Brendan McGuigan

The Radio Flyer® Wagon is the iconic vehicle of the Radio Flyer® company. There are actually many different types of Radio Flyer® Wagon in the world, although the one most known by people is the #18 Classic Red Wagon.

Antonio Pasin, founder of the Radio Flyer Wagon Company, was born in Venice, Italy.
Antonio Pasin, founder of the Radio Flyer Wagon Company, was born in Venice, Italy.

The founder of the Radio Flyer® Wagon company, Antonio Pasin, was born in Venice. At 16 he dreamed of starting a new life in America. His family helped pay for his journey, and soon he was living in Chicago. He was a woodworker by trade, but had a difficult time finding work in that field. Eventually, after worker odd jobs, he saved up enough money to purchase his own equipment and began making wooden wagons in his basement.

Soon afterwards, he formed a company to make and distribute his wagons, which he called the Liberty Coaster Company. In 1930 he renamed the company Radio Steel and Manufacturing. The word Radio was chosen because Pasin felt it represented the sense of wonder the future offered. His first steel wagon he named the Radio Flyer® Wagon to represent the idea of flight, as well.

During the 1940s, with America at war, the Radio Flyer® Wagon company stopped making wagons. Instead, they focused their energies on supporting the war effort by making their iconic red Blitz Cans, which were five gallon cans meant to carry water and fuel to troops. At the end of the war, however, the Radio Flyer® Wagon jumped right back into American life, with the company ramping up its advertising and production.

During the 1950s having a Radio Flyer® Wagon was almost a pre-requisite to being a child in America. The country was reveling in its newfound economic strength, and the Radio Flyer® Wagon was a symbol for children in much the same way a new Chrysler or Ford was for adults.

The Radio Flyer® Wagon also branched out during the 1950s from its traditional wooden and red steel motifs to different colors and themes. Perhaps two of the most famous Radio Flyer® wagons from this period were the Davy Crockett wagon, which was a light tan inspired by Disney’s Davy Crockett, and the blue Mouseketeer wagon.

Today, the Radio Flyer® Wagon company continues to produce its iconic #18 Classic Red Wagon, which it has now made for more than seventy years. The company also produces a number of other products. These include other styles of wagon, such as the All-Terrain Wagons, in both wood and steel, wagons made entirely of plastic, wagons with canopies built in to protect from the sun, and the streamlined #93B Ranger Wagon. The company also makes bicycles and tricycles for kids, scooters, ride-on toys shaped like planes and creatures, and tiny little models of the Radio Flyer® Wagon for putting plants in, or just playing around with on a desk top.

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Discussion Comments


@Markerrag -- I had one of those Radio Flyer wagons with wood panels to keep things inside. Those were awesome, too.

I have also noticed that these are not as easy to find as they used to be. But, guess what, pilgrim? That's that the Internet is for. You can find and buy just about anything online. If someone wants a Radio Flyer wagon but can't find one locally, the Internet is a great place to shop.


These are getting harder to find, but you can look around a bit and still purchase them. When I was a kid, you could always find the whole line of Radio Flyer wagons at the local hardware stores (back when there were dedicated hardware stores that also had a good selection of toys and a few electronics), we don't really have those anymore.

I have seen Radio Flyer wagons at local mercantile stores as of late and I'm sure there are some other places where they can be found.

Oh, and don't fool with anything else but the #18 Classic Red Wagon. That's what I call iconic.

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    • Antonio Pasin, founder of the Radio Flyer Wagon Company, was born in Venice, Italy.
      Antonio Pasin, founder of the Radio Flyer Wagon Company, was born in Venice, Italy.