Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Toys of Yesterday

Hey kids its Christmas! And if you have all been good boys and girls this year then you just might get that toy that you wished for… what? You don’t want a toy? You want a mobile phone? Gee whiz kids what happened to wishing for cap firing guns, dolls in prams, pedal cars, post office shops, games compendiums, corgi cars, castles & soldiers, airfix kits, football boots, annuals, board games, selection boxes in the shape of a stocking, a fish net stocking at that! Etch a sketch, Give a show projectors etc etc.

Come along with me, I’m the ghost of Christmas past and I will show you what kids wished for over 40yrs ago. We will start with the first ever toy of the year award in 1965 the magnificent James Bond Aston Martin. It was launched just before the release of the film Thunderball though the more pedantic amongst you will know that the car first appeared in Goldfinger. The model car had an ejector seat, flip up roof and hidden machine guns. Corgi sold 7 million of these little beauties. Also out this year; Dr Who & the Daleks and the Gonks an ugly family of dolls.

The following year and the winner was a controversial doll for boys, Action Man produced by Hasbro. The little man was an immediate hit and he is still selling well today, not bad for a 42yr old soldier. Pedigree brought out their own version called Tommy Gunn and you can just imagine the tantrums on Christmas morning if a kid got this version instead of the real thing. Other hits included Tiny Tears a crying doll with real tears, well you had to fill her with water first and the back breaking contortion game Twister where you had the dubious pleasure of someone farting in your face.

1967 saw Spirograph crowned the king of toys. Manufactured by Kenner it enabled kids to draw the most elaborate geometric designs. One of the toys that fell into the “educational” slot it was supposed to get kids interested in graphics and maths. I just loved drawing pretty patterns and I ended up making spades for a living, maybe I was just one of the unlucky ones. This original version would give the Health & Safety police palpitations today. It came with a plethora of pins that you used to attach the plastic shapes to a board. The safety brigade would have been delighted with Triang Toys though as they became the first to fit a safety belt to a pedal car.

Pedigree may have been the poor relations with Tommy Gunn but in 1968 they hit back with Sindy sweeping the board at the awards. Billed as the doll you love to dress she had more outfits than a footballer’s wag . In later years she got a boyfriend, Paul and a sister Patch. Some of her outfits were designed by the top names in the fashion world including Mary Quant, Hardy Amies, Emanuels and Vivienne Westwood.

For the boys Joe 90 was popular along with Batman toys including a utility belt. This gives me the opportunity to tell you some of my favourite Batman lines from the TV series “Holy strawberries Batman, were in a jam!” –Robin, “Never rub another mans rhubarb” –The Joker, “Planting a time bomb in a local library is a felony”-Batman, “It's sometimes difficult to think clearly when you're strapped to a printing press” – Batman.

1969 and every boy wanted Hot Wheels left in his stocking, the fastest model cars on earth. Build your loop the loop race tracks and race them side by side, and err… that was it really, the fun was all over in seconds. Story of my life. Could have been worse I suppose, you could have got the rather unfortunately named Tic Tac Tosser for Xmas.

All these toys are worth a small fortune today, maybe that new mobile phone will be a much sought after item in 40yrs time, then again maybe not…

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