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!
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.
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…
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.
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…
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.
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…
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!
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…
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 runs – basically anything I could build up, knock down and make elaborate patterns with.
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 appeal 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Discovered in a £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. 🙂
Image Credits: My own plus doyouremember.co.uk, retrodomination.com, Pinterest, Ebay and Amazon.