Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s was vastly different than the experience of kids today. No internet, bluetooth, cell phones, apps, or PlayStation. In fact, it was’t until 1982 that the Commodore 64 computer came onto the scene. Yet, like in every era, the toys of my childhood were accurate indicators as to how our young minds were focused by the times, our parents, and toy makers.
Mimicking our parents was a big theme because we just wanted to be like our parents. For my brothers and me, it was tooling around our patio in metal cars and fire engines like these in the pictures. For other kids in the neighborhood, it was making cakes in the infamous Easy Bake Oven.
Plastics played a huge roll in toy making as many new types were in their advent. From softer plastics used for the somewhat flexible Barrel Of Monkeys pick-up game to the heavily molded and mechanical Rock Em Sock Em Robots, designed to help kids take out their aggression in a game versus on each other.
Make and Do was one of my favorite genres as I like making things and using creativity to make one-of-a-kinds. From snow cones portioned for Lilliputians, to peanuts we pulverized into butter with little help from Mr. Peanut (that was soooo hard to turn. No wonder the crank handled busted) to the wildly fun Creepy Crawlers and shrunken heads we baked in our basement using the Mattel “Mystery” Goop. Oh, and were those bottles ever really tested for toxicity? This was during the time when asbestos was in it’s heyday. At the same time, how lucky was I that my dad was able to formulate endless supplies of the Goop at work in the chemistry lab and bring home lots of colors for FREE!
Building things was another favorite. Like the Lincoln Log sets made out of real wood. Or learning about leverage and a tension fit from the
Don’t Break The Ice Game. But there was a limit to the amount of attention I was willing to give things even back then. For example: Model Cars. I loved them, and bought many of them. But I never put more than 1/3 of a car together before I threw it all back in the box and put it back on the shelf. The all-too-many extra pieces made no difference to me. I just wanted to get to the good part of painting and detailing. Ever hear of the Real Wankel Model Engine? We never opened it. Nope. It would take a patient saint to read all those instructions and a special kind of kid that would even care to build an engine. I’m sure the real value of that unopened gift will come to surface the day I put it in New, Unopened Condition on Ebay!! Monopoly was fun but only for a while. I don’t know any 10-year old with the patience for either. By the time you started making some money, it was time for dinner. Oh and battleship. Talk about a game designed for twin boys living on a farm 250 miles from other children. Boring!
Lastly, there was the big casino table top pinball machine our Grandpa Jim bought us one year at Christmas. We just couldn’t believe it. So cool. And so electrified with no less than a dozen D-size batteries. Wish we would have taken care of that. It would be worth a fortune today.
My two brothers and I were lucky kids. We didn’t get a lots of toys, but we did get even the slightest of skills from the ones we played. My mom, to this day, covets and keeps all the vintage toys under lock and key, as they are a source of fond memories she has of us when we were young. I think she still doesn’t fully trust us with them. “Our Lincoln Logs are the real ones made of wood”, she likes to remind us.
What was your favorite toy? Leave a picture of it below if you still have it. Or grab one from Google images and post it with a memory. Everyone can relate. I hope you can remind me and others of toys we might have forgotten.