Fuzzy-Felt was invented in Britain during World War II by American Lois Allan. During the war, Lois and her husband Peter contributed to the war effort by manufacturing felt gaskets in the outbuildings of her home for sealing components in tanks.
Other women were involved in this work, and the Allan’s ran a creche for their children. Lois was inspired to create the toy after observing how much enjoyment children had playing with the discarded and misshaped pieces of felt and sticking them to the backs of her table mats.
After the War, Lois gained the interest of toy buyers at John Lewis and Heals and was able to bring Fuzzy-Felt to market in 1950, later founding Allan Industries Ltd.
Soon the product spread internationally, expanding into themed boxes such as Ballet, Maths, Bible Stories and the all-conquering On the Farm.
The toy consists of a flocked backing board onto which a number of felt shapes are placed to create different pictures. Felt pieces can be simple silhouettes or more detailed printed shapes. For a farmyard scene, for example, auxiliary pieces would typically be cows, sheep, chickens, horses, cats, dogs, a farmer, and a tractor.
In 1996 the business was bought by Mandolyn Ltd and production continued in High Wycombe until increasing manufacturing costs led to the licensing of the Fuzzy-Felt brand to a much larger UK toy manufacturer and wholesalers, Toy Brokers Ltd of Huntingdon.
Although Fuzzy-Felt reached its peak in popularity sometime in the mid-1970s, it remains an iconic children’s toy and as of 2016, an estimated 26.25 million sets of Fuzzy-felt had been sold internationally.