Lately I've had several questions and comments about the County Fair Sets, so I thought I'd write a post compiling what little information I have about the non-production of these sets.
First of all, if you haven't read it yet, you should check out my post Introducing: The County Fair Sets. There you'll find the photos and complete descriptions of the sets from the 1990 Fisher Price ToyFair Catalog. Those two little pages are the best and most complete information that I have. Moving beyond that though...
Most of you probably have already read the descriptions of the different County Fair sets on ThisOldToy.com. There they put so well what we already know, "The Ferris Wheel is also the most heart breaking of all the Precious Places sets because it was never mass produced nor sold to the public." I can't say how you might feel, but I know my heart is broken.
Thus far we have established that 1) The County Fair sets were fabulously fantastically awesome and 2) They were never mass produced. So, what happened?
Unfortunately, there isn't much information you can find on the internet that specifically mentions the Precious Places sets themselves. However, a couple things were going on with the Fisher Price company in 1990 that may have affected the production of these sets.
The Fisher-Price company (and toy companies across the board) were facing increased pressure from consumer advocacy groups to increase the safety of their toys. Evidence of this can be seen by the fact that in 1991 the Fisher Price Little People line was changed from the classic cylinder shape to the bigger 'chunky' style figure. Could it be that Precious Places (the County Fair sets included) were another victim of the 'potential choking hazard' movement?
Another factor may have been the restructuring of the company that occurred in 1990-1991 at which point Fisher-Price Inc. became independent of the Quaker Oats Company. The focus of the company narrowed from toys in general to infant and preschool products. Perhaps the Precious Places sets were deemed 'too old' for their new marketing focus. Of course, this is totally speculation on my part, but it seems possible.
I know it's not much, but these are the only possible reasons that I've been able to find for why production of Precious Places didn't continue past 1990 and why the County Fair sets were never mass produced. If anyone has any other ideas or information, please feel free to leave me a message in the comments section of this post.