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Sad news in the toy industry; Toy icon Uncle Milton dies at age 97

January 28, 2011

Milton Levine, founder of Uncle Milton Industries, manufacturer of science and nature toys, passed away recently at the age of 97. In addition to founding the company in 1946, Levine invented the iconic Ant Farm, introduced in 1956. More than 20 million Uncle Milton Ant Farms have been sold, and it was recognized as one of the Top 100 Toys of the Century by the Toy Industry Association.

Levine was married for 65 years to wife Mauricette, and is survived by children Steve, Ellen and Harriet Levine. Steve and Ellen have been involved in running the company since Milton’s retirement in the 1980s. The company was sold to a private equity company in 2010.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Levine’s first encounters with ants were when he made mini-terrariums of them in Mason jars on his uncle’s farm. The company, however, is not named for that uncle — rather, Levine named it that because people often asked him if he was in the ant business, where was the uncle? He wrote a book called Ant Facts and Fantasies in 1970.

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