Even the youngest of babies these days have powered mobiles and electronic music playing toys, no child today would appear happy with being given just a book, a bag of marbles, a football, toy car or a kite for a present, and unless the toy can convert into a robot whilst at the same time playing mp3 files and youtibe videos, have an internal Camera, be able to search the web, connect to their watch and play their messages on facebook then it seems they are just not interested.
The toys of my early childhood were far more simplistic, 'Push-up's' a figure held together with string that 'danced' (actually just collapsed) when you pressed the base and slackened off the string. Rubber 'bendy toys' of Noddy or Rupert Bear, that came with a rubber smell that you can never forget, pretty similar to the mask at the Dentist. They also had lethal sharp braided internal wires that came through the rubber limbs as it aged. There was 'Walking Toys', Animals and characters that you would place on an inclined tray or large book and then let them wobble down, rarely would they reach the bottom before toppling over. Or tin plate toys, Cars without opening doors, boot, bonnet or glass windshields, and which had solid metal (or even lead) wheels that squeaked crazily as you moved them along, they also had sharp edges, there was no H&S or safety regulations back then.
Made of a low grade smelly rubber, a smell that you can't forget.
Pusing the base around made them dance (wobble).
When placed on an angled book or tray they wobbled to the bottom.
They came in many varieties.
Basic, squeaky and often with sharp edges.
Noisy whines and achy wrists.
Draw with a stylus or pen, then pull out the bottom to clear it to begin again.
use a stylus witha magnetic tip to drag the metal filings to make beards and hair.
Frustrating and often got jammed together.
Simple balsa wood gliders that often broke up on first flight. We called them Rooftop or Garage Gliders as thats where they always ended up.
A version of a gyroscope for younger kids.
click button to eject ball on short piece of string and then catch it again.
Basically a Figure tied to polythene bag that never opened in time.
Suction base support bar, or some had hooks for back of car seat.
Some toys were home made, like this cotton wheel knitting.
A toy version of the popular Pin-ball machines.
No Christmas present was complete without a bag of Marbles.
My first Tricycle with breadbin box, solid rubber wheels and single front brake.
All kids loved Pedal Cars, most were police cars but occassionally one resembled an old car like you still see in a fairground.
'Snudge' was my Rocking Snail that was passed on to my brothers. Mobo were located near to my house in Kent.
I first tried a Spacehopper at a school sports day, they told me how to do it and I won!. What they didn't tell me was how to stop!
Whoever thought a simple spring could become a toy. Good for fitness though as you had to constantly climb the stairs.
High density rubber balls that bounced high. A favourite in the playground.
When goods are made there is often lots of plastic waste left over, in the 60's / 70's manufacturers started using this waste to make plastic toys, these were sold in sets of farm or zoo animals or included as a gift in breakfast cereals.
I grew up thinking Lions were blue, monkeys were green, and everything on a farm was red.
A bag of plastic soldiers or cowboys & indians was a common Christmas present.
In the 70's a company called 'Timpo' started making figures in parts, you could swap body, head & legs.
There was definitely a sexual divide, girls were pushed to play with Dolls and pretend household equipment and utensils, pushing to become useful housewives, childminders and cooks. Boys were given tools, building sets and guns, giving a manly image.
It may of been 20 years after the war, but most boy toys of the time were still influenced by it, Guns, Tanks, Wartime Aircraft, Battleships. The remaining were often historical, Knights on horseback etc.
Many of the toys were heavily influenced by the American culture, history and their Gun Laws, boys were heavily encouraged to become 'He - Man' or 'Soldier like', as if every boy would be in the military and go to war as the grew up.
Many f these guns were dangerous and actually fired projectiles or darts, but the worst fired plugs of raw potato which lost many an eyesight and caused endless bruising.
The explosive caps used in the guns was also used in rockets.
Most of the Airfix models were based around the military or war years, Bombers, Fighters, Tanks, Jeeps, Helicopters.
Apart from a few historical ships like Spanish Gallions, most were warships past & present.
The girls had Barbie and Sindy, the boys had Action Men. Tank drivers, elite military forces, Frogmen, Parachutists, all were war related.
Never did you see Action Man as a Male Nurse, Fireman, Postman, Lorry driver, Bank clerk or Fireman. It had to be WAR!
Disks with minature negatives that were viewed by holding the unit up towards the light.
Battery operated projector (Torch with a magnifying glass), insert a roll of negative film roll, and click forward one frame at a time while trying to hold it still facing the wall.
Horse racing game with Lead Horses balancing on a vibrating felt strip.
Why did everyone want to be the racing car ?
I had both Junior Scrabble and the adult version.
A game of deduction.
Find the murderer, the weapon and what room it happened in.
Obstacle course style snakes & ladders.
If you wanted a picture or to create a poster, type a letter or make a label, you had to do it all yourself !
Never one of my favourites, the colours were all wrong to build anything sensible.
A more realistic building block set, white, smaller (about 1/6th size of Lego bricks) with doors and windows.
I made thousands of houses and garages.
The good thing about it was its size, similar in scale to matchbox cars they could be used together.
Sharp metal and fiddly nuts & bolts, but was amazing what you could make from it.
Again compatible in scale in Betta-Bilda and matchbox cars so built many fancy stations.
Matchbox toys were a big part of my early life, as a child I had hundreds of these cars, lorries, buses, boats and bikes. My collection started with Series 1 toys which were die-cast metal with no windows or doors and solid wheels. I still have the old Buses, Trams and Trolley buses that were passed down to me. They later they became better made and much more realistic, with window glass, opening doors, rubber wheels and some even with suspension.
Matchbox started to make stunt tracks and racing games in the 70's, trying to compete against Scalextric style racing games, but the long spring used in the groove of the track was horrifyingly noisy and the plastic pins you stuck to the underneath of cars never stayed in place.
Dinky cars were much larger and so more expensive, but they made similar model cars along with television related vehicles.
The Batmobile was every young boys dream car.
Masks and Capes for Batman & Robin were available.
A spy set with grenade firing guns, squirting cameras and bullet firing mini-pistol hidden in a cigarette packet.
As we grew older James Bond and his Aston Martin with ejector seat was the car to have.
Rocket firing UFO Interceptor from the UFO TV series.
The Ground Attack Vehicle from the UFO TV series.
The various works of Sylvia & Gerry Anderson such as Thunderbirds, Stingray, Captain Scarlet, UFO, and the many others they made in Supermarionation also influenced the toys I wanted.
These programs and toys developed my interests later in my life in the use of technology, computers, space travel and UFO's.
SOMETHINGS WERE DOWNRIGHT DANGEROUS IF NOT LETHAL !
Health & Safety was far from manufacturers no.1 priority when I was young, toys were mostly metal not plastic, with sharp edges. Some toys were just innapropriate, some dangerous to use, others were actually lethal until they were eventually banned.
Smoking was promoted to children, working toy ciggarettes, sweet cigarettes, and even at Christmas with chocolate cigars and smoking sets.
No need to point out how innapropriate this is.
Caused many fractured wrists and endless bruises, some smashed and damaged eyes.
Throw a sharp oversized dart high above you in the air and see if it lands in the circle. What could ever go wrong with that?
Toy tools were not soft plastic immitations, they were real minaturised working versions.
Many deep cuts were made sawing, and many thumbs blackened nailing!
A Methylated Spiit burner, thin glass tubes, molten glass, what could go wrong in your childs bedroom ?
This actually had radioactive ingredients. I would hate to think of the end results. Good job it was banned! Watch Video below
Social Media was knocking on a friends door and asking his mum if he could come out to play in the woods.
Our biggest and best toy was our own
We were lucky to be surrounded by woodland, Cobham woods was our playground and we spent more time in the woods in the school holidays than we did at home. Climbing trees and making camps, hollowing out thick undergrowth to make waterproof hideaways that were invisible even from a few feet away, with old car seats from a dumped car they were home from home. We made our own bows and arrows, boiled eggs for lunch in old paint tins over the small fire, Robin Hood would of been proud.
It taught us independence, camp craft skills and team working, it taught us survival skills, where to get fresh water, what berries were edible, and what plants to use to relieve stings.
What chance have today's children got if there was ever a major disaster, a telephone app will not keep them dry, provide water or feed them !