NOTE: this is the original version of the Approved Guide Article at Classic Children's Toys
Welcome to a trip backwards in time! Remember the toys you played with? That everyone from grandma to today's children also remember from childhood?
Some are still being manufactured, some have disappeared, and some have metamorphosised into shoddy plastic versions in garish colors with tie-ins to popular tv characters, and have quadrupled in price. The toys this list started with were commonly available in the American colonies. British, and other entries are being added as other researchers check in.
There are many, many 'modern' toys that do not meet the [that is, MY] definition of 'classic'. Since I am not really sure what the criteria for 'classic' or 'modern' actuallly are, I will just lump them together as the mood strikes... The second, or 'modern' group includes things like Barbie, Fisher-Price people, Legos, and the like. The entry started with 'classic' toys.
Since we have gained the notice of the 'Powers that work very hard' [since some of them dont like the term 'Powers that be'], and seem to be getting more visitors, I have added a second and third catagory: Modern Children's Toys and Classic Board Games. For now, you will find them listed at the bottom of this page. Soon each may get their very own entries.
Please keep adding toys and descriptions in the Forum, and I will try to keep up with each list.
The most basic toy. They are wooden, painted in primary colors. They come in rectangular, square, cylindrical, and triangular shapes, and those little thingies with the arch. Their main purpose is for building castles and skyscrapers that can then be knocked over. If you have an elder sibling, they usually take on the job of knocking over; often before the structure is completed. This sometimes results in the secondary use of the block, which is as a projectile weapon. These blocks are still being manufactured. They are just the same as they were 50 years ago. They cannot be improved upon as a toy, except by empty cardboard boxes and pots and pans.
These blocks are also wooden. They are cubes. They have the letters of the alphabet carved into the sides, alternating with various patterns. The raised letters are painted in primary colors, the blocks are natural wood. The ones I remember had little teeth carved into the tops and bottoms so that they could be interlocked. You could build a higher tower with these [because of the interlocking parts] but usually ran out of blocks unless you had more than one set. This toy is also perfect. It cannot be improved upon.
Probably an ancient game. You bounce a small ball and while it is in the air, pick up a certain number of markers or 'jacks', catching the ball before it makes a second bounce. There are 10 jacks in the set. They are six-pointed pieces so that they stand up on the ground and can be scooped up easily. The old-fashioned jacks were some kind of heavy metal. Quality has deteriorated. More recent types are colored aluminum, and I have even seen plastic ones. [shocking] The lighter ones are much harder to scoop up.
Two things about jacks: if you play on a rough surface, like cement, you will end up with bloody knuckles. And if they are not gathered up after the game they are extremely painful to step on. The secondary pain experienced by the owner of the jacks is also very severe if it is their parent who steps on the jack.
Back in the sexist days when there were 'boy toys' and 'girl toys' Jacks were considered girl toys. Of course now this kind of sexual stereotyping is a thing of the past among children. Just as we have also achieved world peace.
Marbles were considered to be a 'boy toy' in MY neighborhood, although apparently many girls played marbles in other area where discrimination was not so blatant.
Marbles were sold in bags and came in various sizes, colors and patterns. There are big ones which are the 'shooters' and little ones which I dont know the name of. Some marbles are quite beautiful. In the olden days boys were quite proud of their collection. The finer points of the game escape me, but, I believe, shots are taken at opponents marbles and possession changes based on who wins or loses. Marbles will fit in seemingly impossibly small places, like your little brother's nose.
Rules for Marbles, by Anonymouse
First, you find the dirtiest, dustiest place you can (because good
dirt is the best playing field, of course) and you all sit in a big
circle. In the center, in the dirt with a nice sharp pointed stick (you
know, the one you just finished using to chase off that other boy's
little sister because she acts like a *gasp* girl! You draw a small circle (about maybe 18 inches in diameter). Then you take put all your little marbles in (oh yeah, that's what they're called iirc, "little marbles" -- technical term, you see) in the center (actually just the ones you don't mind trading) of the circle in such a manner so that they scatter to various points within the circle (or down the sewage drain, whichever they get to first).
At this point, you hope your mother doesn't call you until the
game's over, because if you do, you have to run the gauntlet,
fighting over which marbles in the circle belong to which player).
Then, using your favourite shooter, you flip it tiddly-wink style at one of the marbles within the circle. If you successfully knock the target out of the circle, you win that marble and get to pick up your shooter. If you don't succeed, you cry, because chances are you've just traded your favourite shooter to the next little brat to play.
A yo-yo is a round object with a string attached. In some mysterious fashion those skilled in the operation of the yo-yo are able to make the round thingie wind up and down the string. The round thingie can also be made do 'tricks' which have names like 'Walk the Dog' 'Round the World' and 'Sleep'. How this all happens is unknown. It defies the laws of physics. There are additional guide entries for yo-yos and you are directed to them for clarification. Or not.
Bubble stuff has no technical name. It is only known as bubble stuff. It consists of a small bottle of soapy liquid and a round wire [or plastic] form. The round thingie is stuck into the bottle of liquid and a film stretches across the round part. When you blow gently at it, bubbles are formed and rise into the air. You can also wave the 'wand' in the air, and if you have the right touch, bubbles will cascade from it. Modern improvements are all kind of shapes and sizes of wands and special dishes. The bubbles still come out round.
Bubble stuff is a wondrous thing that will delight all, from the smallest baby to the most elderly. If you blow too many bubbles you will get dizzy.
The original colorforms consisted of a set of gummed paper stickers in various geometric shapes and the ever popular primary colors. They could be licked and then stuck to heavy black paper [also supplied]. The patterns shown in the illustrations were wondrous. Mine never looked that good. I always stuck them on crooked, or ran out of the most important shape before I finished.
The improved version is made from heavy plastic film cut in the shape of cartoon characters and celebrities [Barbie IS a celebrity, isn't she?]. The plastic sticks to a shiny cardboard sheet, thanks to static electricity. You can move the cutouts around on the sheet and be creative [or degenerate] as the mood strikes you. The improved version is actually improved. The original was pretty primitive. Plastic needed to be invented for this toy to mature.
It is a great, inexpensive, selection to be taken as a gift to children's birthday parties.
In the olden days doll houses were made from wood [or at least heavy pressboard] not from plastic. Sometimes they were built by the parent or grandparent of the owner. They did not come with their own residents, they did not require the purchase of a corvette, swimming pool, or hardwired stereo system.
The furniture was also cunningly made of wood, with little doors that opened on some of the pieces. If you were really fortunate, you had a set of painted plaster food, and tiny wood or metal dishes. A turkey, fruit, and bowls of 'mystery food' were part of my set.
Spears Toys from England made Fuzzy Felt. You had a board to
which you could stick these pre-cut bits of felt in various geometric
shapes to make your own "tableaux". It was as about exciting as it
sounds, if not less so, Later the company got more adventurous
and made themed sets, so you had jungles with palm trees, lions
and tigers, etc, or there was a farmyard set, which contained ( and
to say this sounds about as surrreal as you can get) a felt tractor.
And some animals. It was generally regarded as a girls' toy by the
stereotyping parents of the 60's (i.e. just about all of them).
Erector Sets. The serious architect's version of tinkertoys! Metal girders, nuts, bolts, belts and pullys!! And even an electric motor to run the ferris wheel model! I was never allowed an Erector Set. I was a girl. Phooey!
Meccano. Meccano was made in Liverpool by Frank Hornby, who also made
the famous clockwork, and later electric, model trains. Meccano
consisted of perforated metal parts which you could bolt together
along with gear wheels, pulleys, cranks etc., to make engineering
models. There can't be a British boy over forty who didn't
assemble a crane from Meccano and then immediately wonder
what to do with it. I had piles of the stuff including lots of
hard-to-get bits, which was really good for my future training as a
Paper dolls. [Especially the Bride and groom set] Jack in the box Teddy Bears Spir-o-graph Tinker-toys Lincoln Logs Lionel trains Mr. Potato Head Slinky Etch-a-sketch Silly Putty Colouring books & Paint-with-water Books Stilts
LEGO [plural: LEGO] Fisher-Price toys, people, etc., etc. Weebles Hot Wheels Space Hoppers Major Mat Mason GI Joe Barbie Lite-Brite
|CLASSIC BOARD [and 'other'] GAMES|
Monopoly Parchesi Yatsee Clue Sorry Checkers Chinese Checkers Dominos
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