...that coming up with a favorite toy list proved much harder than I originally thought. I was a lucky kid; I had SO many favorites, so how I could possibly widdle it down? So to prevent this list from becoming 50 items long, I’m choosing five of my most memorable. One interesting personal observation: it wasn’t until the 80s that a lot of my requested items for Christmas and my birthday required batteries – the “technology” of the time was definitely spawning hand held electronic games and educational devices. I may have to save some of those for a possible part 2 to this post, but here’s some of the ones I spent the most spare time with during the 70s.
Hasbro’s ride-on Inch Worm (pictured above) was awesome! I must confess if an adult version were available today, I’d be the first to hop on and take it for a spin. The Inch Worm was a ride-on toy that would ratchet forward much like a real inch worn when you hopped up and down on it. Since I was a tall kid, I was pretty disappointed when the day arrived where I realized I was too big to ride it anymore. Even though Radio Flyer now manufactures it, I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the 70s version.
Fisher Price Little People Sets
Fisher Price’s cheerful Little People play sets ruled – I had the farm, and a Sesame Street set done Little People style, but my favorite was the castle because it included a drawbridge that actually creaked open and shut, a dragon, horses and knights, a princess, and all kinds of trap doors and compartments. Just the ticket when you're an imaginative 4 year-old. By the way, I see Fisher Price updated the design and pieces with a new look - me no like! The original vintage model is much more charming.
Sears Kombi Kitchen Set
Years ago my father and I watched a Mad TV skit where a father goes loony trying to put together an impossible-to-assemble rocking horse on Christmas Eve for his daughter. I found out that evening that the Kombi Kitchen set was my father's rocking horse. Keep in mind that this was a man who was extremely proficient at fixing or making anything with his hands; at the time he passed away he was in the process of building a one-passenger airplane in the basement, so this kitchen set had to be one horrid piece of work to put together. Fortunately for the both of us, I loved this thing – a child sized stove, fridge, and sink (complete with a window view.) My favorite accessories were the tiny pots and pans, rubber food, and fake cans and boxes of well-known food and cleaning brands. When I think about it, Sears probably had to pay to get permission to use the logos and looks on the mini packaging. I also had a tot-sized shopping cart. Now how come grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning is never as much fun as when you were a kid?
Of course! Every girl I know had an Easy Bake oven. Mine was a Holly Hobby model and therefore, was sort of old fashioned styled, with a Little House On the Prairie look to it. I don’t know why the Easy Bake oven appeals to so many kids except 1. The cakes are tiny and therefore, super cute, and 2. All you had to add to the mix was water. I seem to remember, however, not bothering to buy more mix once I ran out of the pouches that came with the oven. By then I must have graduated to making real cakes with my mother.
I seem to remember this was a mail order product affiliated with a food brand (like Campbell’s soup) and I loved this thing. It was a cardboard cottage that you put together and had a door and a window. It was easy to assemble and take apart so that I could also use it outside. I ate snacks in it, took naps in it, and our two Siamese cats would often join me for a visit.
The tomboy in me had a few Star Wars toys, including the three story space station, which I loved, but I consider this particular item a very special item…I’ve never even met a guy who can say he owned one. It is a remote control R2D2 that beeps and moves. It was available for Christmas the same year Star Wars was released, and it was the impossible toy to get your hands on that season. My parents called around and managed to find a store that had one left…in the storage area…they held it for them. I still have this little guy, because I wonder if he may be a collector’s item. I still have the box and packaging, instructions, and remote control unit, and I removed the batteries years ago so that they wouldn’t leak and corrode. One of these days I plan on putting in fresh batteries to see if he still works.
Ah, OK, so I ended up listing six. How could I leave anything out? This is just begging for a Part 2 list at some point.
Want to share your most memorable toys growing up? Please do! And, oh, don't forget to check out Darrin's faves lists over at Go Retro!