Aloada Childhood Nostalgia 4: The Toy Story

Aloada Childhood Nostalgia 4: The Toy Story

I know I’m getting older, as we all are, but always considered my age bracket to fall into the ‘retro’ category, rather than ‘vintage’. That was until last week when we visited the Vintage Tea Shop, full to the brim of mismatched 1950s china tea sets, frilly aprons and vinyl records from days gone by.

Oh, and Pacman set up to play on a black and white portable TV, alongside a stack of these fellows for children Haylee to play with…my drawing skills have not improved with age!

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The Etch-A Sketch used to be a staple in my creative arsenal, despite generally only being able to achieve a dodgy house shape.

I’m sure most children these days would look at them with utter bemusement, wondering why these ‘old-fashioned tablets’ didn’t have sound, or colour…or access to YouTube! But as one of these was a huge part of my childhood, and with the Moodle Army theme this week being ‘Look Back’, I thought it was time for another edition of Nostalgia with a visit to my toy box.

(Hmmm, I realise this sounds like a euphemism, don’t get unnecessarily perturbed…)

A Major pain in the…

Musical I’d love to be, musical I am not. Even with predefined keys to press and a colourful array of patterns to follow, I managed to wreck such classics as ‘Twinkle, Twinkle’ and ‘London’s Burning’ and damage my family’s hearing / sanity on a daily basis.

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Major Morgan was my pal, my military musical mate, who I carried around everywhere and pushed his buttons until he screeched. Literally. Cards slotted in his back, which gave the instructions to follow, for a tune that sounded like it had fallen out of a Casio keyboard on low battery power.

There’s no wonder I became a fan of techno…


Donkey Danger

I’ve always loved board games but being an only child, finding players if my family weren’t available was sometimes a problem 😦 *cue the smallest violin in the world*.

So having ‘interactive’ games, such as Operation (LOVED IT!) and Buckaroo allowed me to play alone. But that donkey TERRIFIED me! I don’t know why I should be so scared of the thing flinging its varied objects at my face, some of which were quite large, with enough force to likely take my eye out. But I was.

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And so I would gingerly load his saddle, at arms length, from behind a cushion, even attempting to attach items with my toes at one point. It always ended badly – I loathed my friends discovering I owned it as they were fearless and it was top of the list of ‘things to do at Haylee’s house’. I think they just enjoyed watching me cry!

That mule made a fool out of me and I never got over it. I’ll give credit where it’s due though – the modern versions aren’t a patch on the originals.


Barbie’s English Frenemy

I’m not a doll person. I owned a Tiny Tears and another, my favourite, baby doll that I named after Hambel from Playschool. Living in an all-white neighbourhood, she was a big talking point and thought of as quite ‘cutting edge’ parenting from my mother by other families (*sigh*). My mum just thought she had a cute face…

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Other than that, I hated dolls. Their eyes! They have them, they stare and they follow. Until my opinion changed the day my mum decided I was old enough to receive the ceremonial handover of her Sindy dolls – Britain’s answer to Barbie, yet much more…wholesome. Allegedly.

Instilling a hatred of Barbie was part of the inauguration – I’m sure I had to recite ‘Thou shalt not covet Ken or cheekbones of a higher angle’, whilst playing the National Anthem and standing on the Stars and Stripes.

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I jest, of course…but the irrational loathing was imbued in me. Round our parts, Barbie was always thought of as a doll of loose morals: look at that neckline, that hemline, those shoes! Much better to dress your mini-me in sensible jodhpurs and riding boots, then traipse her around the living room on her horse, Sascha, on the way to your plastic country estate, where the Range Rover and Porsche stood side-by-side with gig and trap.

I loved dressing Sindy and playing out her fantasy lifestyle. She was such a quintessential English Rose.

Although, looking back, she probably advocated fox hunting and looked down on the less fortunate. Oh the shame… :/


Creative Endeavours

Another hand-me-down from my mother’s collection was the Spirograph, which we found in the attic a few week’s ago. Missing a few pieces and having the instructions scribbled on by a naughty, ‘let’s not name any names’, child (okay, it was me), it was nevertheless in great shape considering the hours of enjoyment it brought, as I circled my way to artistic delight!

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I was quite the fan of any toy that allowed me to be creative. Fuzzy Felts were another I liked, yet there potential scope with the pieces contained, often left me feeling stifled. I was such a tragic artist…

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But if you want to know where the Hipster beard culture began, look no further than Wooly Willy’s hairless face. Sat inside a plastic box, you could decorate it with iron filings and a magnet. Mesmerising! I doubt it would even be allowed these days – I know iron filings became banned in schools. But I’d spend hours grooming his beard into weird and wonderful designs, then shake it up and start again!


Boys’ (have the best) Toys.

I’ve never been a truly ‘girly’ girl – Sindy was probably as far as it got in the way of toys. Instead, I much preferred playing with things that (in those days) were considered ‘boys’ toys’.

Meccano, train sets, Scalextric, domino runsΒ  – basically anything I could build up, knock down and make elaborate patterns with.

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My absolute favourite was Technics Lego. I had full-working hydraulic / light and sound versions of tractors, police cars, fire engines and planes. My girlfriends just didn’t see the appealΒ  of watching a miniature JCB raise and lower its forklift with the aid of a button attached to an airtube.

You don’t either? Okay, moving on…


Take It Outside

I grew up in the era of the Coca Cola yo-yo craze, mastering ‘rock-the-baby’ and the ‘walking the dog’. However, when the ceiling lights were in danger of needing frequent replacement, I was told to practise ’round the world’ outside.

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The truth is, I spent a lot of time in the open air: riding my bike, playing skittles or marbles, hiding in neighbourhood games of Block 1,2,3. And let’s not forget my prowess on a space hopper! So I was fond of toys meant for the outdoors.

Despite the dangers of a tennis ball hurtling violently towards my head, Swingball was a favourite. And as we were lucky enough to have a large park near us, Aerobies also featured for a time – until I lost it up a tree. Only regular frisbees for me from then on.

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But the one I liked the most, mainly because I was better on it than any of my friends (have I ever mentioned how competitive I am?), was the Pogo-Ball.

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Bouncy, balancing stunts became the norm after school, as I seemingly defied the laws of gravity whilst standing on a tiny Saturn. And because I could navigate steps on it, I could also take it to bed!


The Bargain

And finally, a game I was in love with for many years and possibly fuelled my love of arcade / computer games.

Starting with a ZX Spectrum, I’ve also been lucky enough to own an Amiga 2000, Sega MegaDrive, Playstation and XBox. Whilst I have fond memories attached to each one, a tiny, hand-held device tops the bill.

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Discovered in a Β£5 box of random items that my mum picked up from a car boot sale, this Nintendo Game and Watch featuring Donkey Kong was AMAZING! Play a game? Yes. Play a little tune? Yes. Display the time? Yes. Have the ability to set an alarm so you know it’s time to play the next game? YES!

What was there not to like?

Well that was an incredibly long ramble down toy box memory lane with so many I’ve still not included. But I hope you’ve enjoyed it. Which toys and games could you not live without? I’d love to hear in the comments. πŸ™‚


Image Credits: My own plus doyouremember.co.uk, retrodomination.com, Pinterest, Ebay and Amazon.

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30 thoughts on “Aloada Childhood Nostalgia 4: The Toy Story

  1. I was a huge Barbie fan…loved the clothes…I considered Ken an accessory…I still have my original Barbie/Ken along with Shirley Temple. Loved dolls, all types. But I also wanted blocks and construction toys but those were considered “boy toys”…ahhh the 1950s. I did do a lot of playing outside which I what I would prefer for my girls today….building houses from fallen tree limbs and swinging on a tire swing…my real all time favorites. A fun, fun post, Haylee. πŸ™‚

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  2. What a fantastic, nostalgic post? Fantalgic?? I had, or someone I knew had most of these. I loved my Major Morgan, broke my etch a sketch by standing on it, fell off my bouncy thing lots of times and had completely forgotten about Wooly Willy lol. Oh yeah dolls are evil, especially the ones that used to pee themselves – not a toy! Great post!

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    1. Haha, I’m not doing another Natalie Portman-toe vlog with your new word!! Glad you liked it though. I had to look up Wooly Willy – I was convinced mine was Desperate Dan!

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      1. I was in the offices where they write Desperate Dan the other month. Was delivering a training session while there was also a Gnasher in front of the projector. Was quite surreal. There were cartoons everywhere!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I still have my mother’s Shirley Temple doll, and the Clue and Monopoly games my dad owned before he graduated high school. I loved my roller skates that required a skate key to clamp on to my shoes. Saddle shoes were far superior to Keds for this purpose, and that was the only reason I was allowed saddle shoes. Although I desperately wanted shoe skates, we weren’t allowed them because — as Mom would point out — our feet were still growing. Etch-a-Sketch was a favorite even back in my olden days. I managed minor works of art, but one of my sisters created remarkably complex drawings. Of course, she went on to earn a degree in graphic design. Marionettes from back in the ’50s. Paper dolls with cut-out clothes. There are simply too many to list. πŸ™‚

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    1. The vintage cafe had paper dolls and various clothes to cut out! I, too, had clamp on skates but I was eventually allowed to progress to roller boots. However, I never owned roller blades – if I couldn’t balance on four wheels I didn’t stand a chance on those!! How lovely that you still have those toys/games belonging to your parents. My mum was so pleased when the Spirograph turned up that she took it home to play with πŸ™‚

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  4. What a blast from the past! Love it! I almost broke my neck on the ‘pogo-ball’ It’s definitely harder than it looks! 😳

    I’ve still got buckeroo… the kids are a fan! I try to get them into all the things I loved as a kid… but with the advance in technology, they are barely interested *sad face*

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    1. I know, it’s such a shame that they won’t experience some of the wonder as things changed, that we did as children. I think it’s great that many of these are still available – but I must admit that I get a little protective if kids mention any at school as if they’ve just been invented and I wouldn’t possibly be cool enough to know what they were!!

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  5. I still have an Aerobie. No-one to throw it to though sadly…
    I couldn’t manage the Pogo-Ball – I think my sister was quite good at it but the skills always eluded me…
    I still don’t quite understand how the Etch-a-sketch works. I could draw a series of lines but nothing that ever resembled a picture. Then again, I was always more of a ‘Magna-Doodle’ man myself…

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    1. I forgot about Magna-Doodle! As for Etch-a-Sketch, if it required diagonals or curves there was no chance. The concentration required to write that ‘hello’ wore me out for the day!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was quite restrictive. I remember just keeping the lid open, making the light thing spin dead fast and using it like a disco light while I danced to Tiffany. Hmmm, says it all really, doesn’t it lol

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