Obit-Etch A Sketch Inventor

A classic Etch A Sketch. The Ohio Art Company sold the toy to Toronto-based Spin Master. (Ohio Art Company/Associated Press)

A Canadian toy company is drawing up new plans for a classic children's plaything after buying the rights to the Etch A Sketch brand from its U.S. owners.

The Ohio Art Company announced Thursday that it sold Etch A Sketch and Doodle Sketch to Spin Master Corp., a toy company based in Toronto whose shares trade on the TSX. Financial terms were not released.

"These toys have been popular for more than 50 years, and we look forward to building on this foundation of fun and creativity," Spin Master CEO Anton Rabie said.

How it works

Using two knobs to adjust vertical and horizontal movement, the toy works by allowing the user to displace aluminum powder using magnetic beads to create an image on the surface.

According to the National Toy Hall of Fame, the Etch A Sketch traces its origins to 1959, when French electrical technician André Cassagnes invented a mechanical drawing toy he called L'Écran Magique — literally, The Magic Screen which was first displayed at the International Toy Fair in Nuremberg, Germany, that year.

Many manufacturers were unimpressed, but the Ohio Art Company paid $25,000 for the rights to the device, an amount larger than they had ever paid for a license. The company renamed the device the Etch A Sketch, and the toy was a must-have on every child's Christmas wish list a year later, selling 600,000 units in its first year of mass production.

The Ohio-based company said it will use proceeds of the sale to focus on its core business — metal lithography, which is a method of printing images on to metallic surfaces.

With files from The Associated Press