Toys of Christmas Past

 

“No one ever forgets a toy that made him or her supremely happy as a child, even if that toy is replaced by one like it that is much nicer.” Stephen King

“‘Tis the season,” so they say, so now I offer up something light, silly, and hopefully a little fun. Because I am Mr. Fun! All my friends say so, right? Right? (Nobody here except us crickets, man.) Ahem. Well, be that as it may, I got caught up in a conversation the other day about the toys we had as kids. Sure, it’s not an uncommon conversation, but whenever they start, it quickly evokes the same feelings of competitive envy I had when I was nine, when everyone would go back to school and compare notes on who got what for Christmas.

So here’s what I propose, if you’re game: go hit your search engine of choice, and load up the comments with pictures and remembrances of your favorite toys from your childhood (ages 1 to 92). If the post fizzles out early, well then, you’re all humbugs.

Here’s just handful of a few of mine, to get things started. Wanna play? Post as many as you’d like, after all, he who dies with the most toys, wins.

There are 141 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Jim Chase Member
    Jim Chase
    @JimChase

    • #1
  2. Nohaaj Coolidge
    Nohaaj
    @Nohaaj

    I disagree. I don’t really have any such memories of Christmas gifts that made me “supremely happy”. That could be that for many years, Christmas gifts primarily consisted of a new set of pajamas, and a pair of blue school uniform pants.  We ate a lot of bone soup in our home back then. But I do recall the traditions, and those are my favorite memories.  Going to Midnight Mass, then down to the church basement afterwards for ham sandwiches, sitting with Mom in the choir. I prefer the memories of family and church to having a favorite toy. 

    • #2
  3. Jim Chase Member
    Jim Chase
    @JimChase

    Nohaaj (View Comment):
    I prefer the memories of family and church to having a favorite toy. 

    As do I!  Still, I do find it fun to remember such things, and to remember a time before the so-called “digital age” transformed the toy market.  And, I agree, there were always tons of socks and clothes mixed in with the trivial trinkets.

    • #3
  4. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    The Mattel Strange Change Machine:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strange_Change_Machine

     

    • #4
  5. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    The thing the monsters are sitting on is a hot plate, hot enough that if you spit on it, the spit would dance around on top until it evaporated.

    • #5
  6. lowtech redneck Coolidge
    lowtech redneck
    @lowtech redneck

    Jim Chase (View Comment):

    My sisters were forced to give up their Lite Brite, for fear that I would choke on the pieces.

    • #6
  7. OkieSailor Member
    OkieSailor
    @OkieSailor

    Best one ever? An aunt gave me a crystal radio receiver – no batteries needed! I carried it everywhere. It only picked up a few stations but I only needed one. Must have been about 1957 or so.

    Image result for tiny tim radio

    • #7
  8. danok1 Member
    danok1
    @danok1

    Marx Toys Fort Apache.

     

    SSP Racers.

    • #8
  9. Vectorman Inactive
    Vectorman
    @Vectorman

    Not sure if this is the exact Erector set, but it contains a key component:

    Most of the other sets in the late 1950’s used an 110 Volt AC motor with lots of torque rather than a puny battery powered motor. And they had many more parts, as this one was probably the smallest at the time.

    Being one of 3 children, we had to share the “smallest” version of Lincoln Logs, Tinker toys, building blocks, etc. To make anything substantial, items had to be cobbled together from all these toys. Maybe it helped my creativity?

    • #9
  10. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    This:

    The first model I ever made. I think I was seven or eight when I got one for Christmas.

    Older brother got a Buckley destroyer escort kit the same year. Never built it. I built mine. Dad helped. Started me into model-making.

    That model is long gone, although I have another copy of the same kit in my “stash.” (All model-makers have stashes of unbuilt kits.) Dad passed this year. I got his stash of kits. So it goes.

    • #10
  11. Vectorman Inactive
    Vectorman
    @Vectorman

    OkieSailor (View Comment):

    Best one ever? An aunt gave me a crystal radio receiver – no batteries needed! I carried it everywhere. It only picked up a few stations but I only needed one. Must have been about 1957 or so.

    Image result for tiny tim radio

    That’s a relatively bigger version of what our Grandparents used. It was about the size of a pack of Life Savers and looked like a rocket ship. It had one “short wire” with an alligator clip to get a long enough antenna, with a slider at the top to tune in strong local stations like WLS Chicago.

    It started me on my Radio Systems Engineering career.

    • #11
  12. lowtech redneck Coolidge
    lowtech redneck
    @lowtech redneck

     

    • #12
  13. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    danok1 (View Comment):
    Marx Toys Fort Apache.

    SSP Racers.

    I always wanted the Smash-Up Derby.

    • #13
  14. Kay of MT Member
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    lowtech redneck (View Comment):
    My sisters were forced to give up their Lite Brite, for fear that I would choke on the pieces.

    One of my granddaughters, age 1, sucked one of the pegs into her lung pipe. For a bit it was touch and go as they couldn’t tell which side of the lung it was trying to travel. The surgeon picked the right direction and managed to snag the peg before it shut down her ability to breath. The lite brite went into the trash.

    • #14
  15. GLDIII Reagan
    GLDIII
    @GLDIII

    These were mine, which I am sure is to nobody here’s great surprise…. 

     

    • #15
  16. Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. Coolidge
    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr.
    @BartholomewXerxesOgilvieJr

    Technically not a toy, but I was a weird kid.

    • #16
  17. Jim Chase Member
    Jim Chase
    @JimChase

    Vectorman (View Comment):

    Not sure if this is the exact Erector set, but it contains a key component:

    Most of the other sets in the late 1950’s used an 110 Volt AC motor with lots of torque rather than a puny battery powered motor. And they had many more parts, as this one was probably the smallest at the time.

    Being one of 3 children, we had to share the “smallest” version of Lincoln Logs, Tinker toys, building blocks, etc. To make anything substantial, items had to be cobbled together from all these toys. Maybe it helped my creativity?

    Ah, man.  Erector sets.  Those never managed to make it into our household growing up, but I had cousins and friends who had them.  It grieved me when they started making them out of plastic – which is why I went to other models and such for my kids.

    • #17
  18. Jim Chase Member
    Jim Chase
    @JimChase

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    This:

    The first model I ever made. I think I was seven or eight when I got one for Christmas.

    Older brother got a Buckley destroyer escort kit the same year. Never built it. I built mine. Dad helped. Started me into model-making.

    That model is long gone, although I have another copy of the same kit in my “stash.” (All model-makers have stashes of unbuilt kits.) Dad passed this year. I got his stash of kits. So it goes.

    I hear you, Seawriter.  My first model was an F-4 Phantom not unlike this one, and my Dad helped me.

    • #18
  19. Jim Chase Member
    Jim Chase
    @JimChase

    danok1 (View Comment):
    Marx Toys Fort Apache.

     

    SSP Racers.

     

    Yep.  Similarly, I had an assortment of Matchbox/Hot Wheels stunt tracks:

    • #19
  20. danok1 Member
    danok1
    @danok1

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    danok1 (View Comment):
    Marx Toys Fort Apache.

    SSP Racers.

    I always wanted the Smash-Up Derby.

    We got it (for all 3 of us boys). It was fantastic!!

    • #20
  21. Jim Chase Member
    Jim Chase
    @JimChase

    GLDIII (View Comment):

    These were mine, which I am sure is to nobody here’s great surprise….

    Awesome.  A slight segue:  A childhood neighbor of mine (he was an adult) was big into modeling – had a room full of table tops that featured an integrated car and train set.  The cars ran, the train ran (and the occasional collision at the crossing).  Neat stuff.

    • #21
  22. danok1 Member
    danok1
    @danok1

    Jim Chase (View Comment):

    danok1 (View Comment):
    Marx Toys Fort Apache.

     

    SSP Racers.

     

    Yep. Similarly, I had an assortment of Matchbox/Hot Wheels stunt tracks:

    Same here, Jim. Mom got tired of us running track all over the place.

    • #22
  23. Jim Chase Member
    Jim Chase
    @JimChase

    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. (View Comment):

    Technically not a toy, but I was a weird kid.

    We all were:

    • #23
  24. GLDIII Reagan
    GLDIII
    @GLDIII

    Jim Chase (View Comment):

    Vectorman (View Comment):

    Not sure if this is the exact Erector set, but it contains a key component:

    Most of the other sets in the late 1950’s used an 110 Volt AC motor with lots of torque rather than a puny battery powered motor. And they had many more parts, as this one was probably the smallest at the time.

    Being one of 3 children, we had to share the “smallest” version of Lincoln Logs, Tinker toys, building blocks, etc. To make anything substantial, items had to be cobbled together from all these toys. Maybe it helped my creativity?

    Ah, man. Erector sets. Those never managed to make it into our household growing up, but I had cousins and friends who had them. It grieved me when they started making them out of plastic – which is why I went to other models and such for my kids.

    I use to combine my erector set with this gem

    and one of these:

    I guess it was never a doubt where my professional life was going to end up.

    So that brings forth a thought. Are the toys we introduce to our young children going to shape the future development of our country?

    Is that why so many young folks are now sequestered in their basements staring at computer screens vs creating tangible manufactured stuff?

    • #24
  25. GLDIII Reagan
    GLDIII
    @GLDIII

    Jim Chase (View Comment):

    GLDIII (View Comment):

    These were mine, which I am sure is to nobody here’s great surprise….

    Awesome. A slight segue: A childhood neighbor of mine (he was an adult) was big into modeling – had a room full of table tops that featured an integrated car and train set. The cars ran, the train ran (and the occasional collision at the crossing). Neat stuff.

    That was our basement in Long Island. Dad was a big model train guy which he put aside by the time the third boy was born. He did return to it when he retired. He lamented he now had the time and money, but neither the eye sight, nor energy to pursue it like he did as a 20 something.

    • #25
  26. Jim Chase Member
    Jim Chase
    @JimChase

    GLDIII (View Comment):

    I use to combine my erector set with this gem

    Yes!  I remember that one – I would build and rebuild with that for hours on end.

    GLDIII (View Comment):

    So that brings forth a thought. Are the toy we introduce our young children going to shape the future development of our country?

    Is that why so many young folks are now sequestered in their basements staring at computer screens vs creating tangible manufacture stuff?

    I think about that all the time, which is why my kids always got at least one or two things at Christmas that required them to visualize and build things.  My younger son in particular is a builder – whether he goes full maker is to be determined. 

    • #26
  27. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    GLDIII (View Comment):

    So that brings forth a thought. Are the toys we introduce our young children going to shape the future development of our country?

     

    Might be true for people who figure out what they want to be when they’re still kids.

    • #27
  28. Juliana Member
    Juliana
    @Juliana

    See the source image

    I don’t remember this making me ‘supremely’ happy, but I did play with my Barbie doll – a lot. I only had one, and getting a larger wardrobe was very important.

    Books were always on my list. Especially Nancy Drew.

    See the source image

    • #28
  29. Jim Chase Member
    Jim Chase
    @JimChase

    Juliana (View Comment):

    See the source image

    I don’t remember this making me ‘supremely’ happy, but I did play with my Barbie doll – a lot. I only had one, and getting a larger wardrobe was very important.

    Books were always on my list. Especially Nancy Drew.

    See the source image

    I didn’t have sisters, so my knowledge of the toys targeted to girls is limited to the endless commercials I would see on TV.  However, I can neither confirm nor deny that I may have read a Nancy Drew book or two, along with a few of the mainstays of my Hardy Boys book collection.

    • #29
  30. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    A baby carriage for dolls (this isn’t mine, but looks very similar).  I used to dress the cats up, put them in and wheel them around.  Tiddles had kittens in it one day.

    My steering wheel (which spun round and round) was ivory-colored plastic, that hard plastic, maybe bakelite (which may not be plastic after all).  With a red horn in the center of the steering wheel, and a “gear shift” that moved back and forth.  It suctioned onto the dashboard, and when I was about three, I would sit next to my Daddy and “drive.”  No seat belts.  Front seat.  It’s a miracle I survived.

    Oh, my favorite book, about a disobedient little chick who disobeyed his mother, got lost, and cold, and wet, and had to spend the night in an old tomato soup can by the side of the road.  At this point in the story, I would become inconsolable and dissolve into floods of tears.  They were not much assuaged by the happy ending when the family was reunited.  Eventually, my mother, who was desperate, burned it.  Fifty years later, I found Little Chick-Chick on eBay.  I bawled like a baby the first time I read it.  Again.  Still do.  Can’t read it, actually.

    • #30

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.