The Story of the Retro Racer

Confer Plastics -- a manufacturer located near Niagara Falls, New York – has been in business since 1973. Before that, our founder Ray Confer was involved in another business, Airlock Plastics. While there, he helped design for Louis Marx and Company a sled which became known as the Sno-Toboggan. It went into production at Airlock in 1971.


When Ray opened Confer Plastics two years later, Marx stuck with Ray, and Confer Plastics produced thousands of these popular sleds until Marx went out of business in 1979. The 1980 liquidation of Marx was a sad time for the toy industry and children everywhere – the company, which had been in business since 1919, was famous for toys like Rock’em Sock’em Robots and Big Wheel tricycles. The mold we used to make sleds for Marx was turned into scrap by their creditors during Marx’s bankruptcy.


The mold was gone, but the sleds lived on. When Confer Plastics made them, we made them well – the parts were high-quality and could survive the tests of time and the elements. Children across the northeastern and central US put them to use through the 1980s and 1990s. Some of those were kept by those families and passed on to the next generation, but most weren’t.


When the 2000s came and the Generation X parents who grew up with the sleds noticed them on social media or saw them used by families who did keep them, they reached out to us to see if somehow, someway we could still make the sleds because they wanted to re-create their memories with their children. Every time, we had to share the sad news with them that the mold no longer existed and the sled would never be again.


Then, came 2023, the 50th anniversary of Confer Plastics. In that year, as we reflected on that half century and some of the products we once made, it made sense (emotionally and financially) to bring back some of them like our patio furniture, the flexible funnel, and…the sled! The Confers still had the sled they used as kids. So, they had our mold maker digitize it and make some tweaks to the design. Then, the mold was produced. The sled was back! This time around, it has a new name – the Retro Racer, to reflect the nostalgia had by Confer Plastics and all the people who had grown up with the sled. It also has new colors – there’s the classic Cool Blue, but there’s also Midnight, Atomic Orange, and Polar Pink.


We thank you for your purchase and, from many of you, the passion for a product from your childhood. You all made the rebirth of the sled possible! And, by doing so, you’re supporting American production jobs. Enjoy the slopes this winter and for generations to come! 




 Learn more about the comeback story here!


In the summer of 2023, as we prepared for the launch of the Retro Racer, WXXI, the NPR affiliate of Rochester, NY paid us a visit to do a report on the sled’s comeback. You can listen to, read, or watch their reports here. For those of you who like to see how things are made, this is for you!