This large sculpture of a traditional toy stands on the side of the freeway on the outskirts of Spain’s toy town. At first sight, it seems to simply be a gigantic model of a toy steam locomotive. But closer inspection reveals that it is cleverly constructed out of locally molded plastic cable drums.
At the turn of the 20th century, the town of Ibi relied on farming and collecting ice from the surrounding mountains to enable the manufacture of ice cream. Today, the industry has shifted, and Ibi is currently the largest toy manufacturing town in Spain.
Within the town, 37 companies manufacture around 40 percent of all the country’s toys. The area is also home to a specialist Technical Institute for Toy Technology that aims to provide toy makers with access to new technologies and materials.
The toy industry in Ibi began around 1905 when a tinsmith made a model of a two-wheeled horse and cart for his own children. This was the start of the Paya Brothers’ workshop (which is now the home of the Valencia Regional Toy Museum). Other companies were then established, beginning the “golden age” for toy making in Ibi, and even more companies came into being following the Spanish Civil War. By 1970, Ibi was home to 70 toy factories and a spin-off was the development of non-toy plastic injection molding companies.
Know Before You Go
When driving on the freeway, you get a clear but very short-lived view of the sculpture. For a better view, leave the freeway at the Ibi (Sud) intersection and follow the service road that runs southward parallel with the freeway (on the right-hand side when traveling south).