THURSDAY THIRTEEN - My 13 Favorite Retro Toys from Childhood

With Christmas coming up all the toy store ads are being plastered all over the web and the boob tube. This got me to thinking about some of my favorite toys when I was a kid:

1. CRAYONS, PRANG WATERCOLORS! There was never a Christmas or a birthday that went by that I didn't get a new box of crayons or some form of art medium. I'm still like a kid in a candy store when I walk into an art supply store!

2. ETCH-A-SKETCH - This toy fascinated and frustrated me for hours on end. Until I got the hang of handling those knobs and coordinating them I was driven to tears. Once I had the rhythm going I could spend forever doodling magnetically.

3. ERECTOR SET - Though I never had an erector set of my own, my brother Butthead had one and I was often to be found playing with it when he wasn't around. Of course, I built abstract sculptures and not bridges so Butthead said I was a stupid girl.

4. SLINKY - When I was a kid this toy was metal and clanged when you dropped it down stairs. Nothing better to a kid than a toy that made noise!

5. JACK IN THE BOX - Yes, I had one and I kept it for years even after I was "too old" for it. Pop Goes The Weasel!

6. CHECKERS - Always a good game for rainy days. Our game got so old and used that we had lost many of the actual checkers and used bottle caps!

7. PICK UP STICKS - Only a kid can enjoy dumping a bunch of colored wood sticks all over the floor and picking them up. Do they even have these anymore?

8. TOY PIANO - I had a miniature toy grand piano. It was just an octave or two in keys and stood about 6 inches off the floor. I loved it and banged on it until one day my mother decided that piano lessons were in order. The full size piano was never as much fun.

9. SILLY PUTTY - I loved this flesh colored clay like substance. You could press it down on newspaper and the ink would imprint on the Silly Putty. I was endlessly fascinated with these reverse images for some reason.

10. PLAY DOH - This pasty, colored clay was great stuff for a kid to sculpt with. I made animals, dishes for my doll house and even jewelry for myself. The Play Doh ended up in the oddest places too - in the toilet bowl, smashed into the carpet, stuck under chairs and even stuck to Butthead's hair once! (Score one for me, teehee!)

11. MR POTATO HEAD - Frankly, I was more fascinated with doing weird things with the noses, ears, hats and attachments than actually creating a normal looking potato head. I think Picasso would have admired some of my creations that had one eye and both ears on the same side of the potato head. I also delighted in turning other foodstuffs into weird monsters. Normal I am not.

12. PAPER DOLLS - These are probably out of fashion but I loved paper dolls and could spend hours dressing these two dimensional models in the tabbed clothing. My favorite thing was to create my own clothes for the paper dolls. I would draw a new outfit, complete with tabs, color it in with my crayons and have mini fashion shows. I think this is why my Mom was convinced I would end up becoming a fashion designer. The only problem with that was, unlike Mama, I was absolutely no good as a seamstress and truly dislike sewing so paper dolls were as close as I ever got to a runway!

13. MY HOWDY DOODY MARIONETTE - My father, who worked for the Boy Scouts of America, got me a Howdy Doody Marionette in a BoyScout Uniform! I was not a natural born puppetier but that toy was a favorite of mine. In today's marketing obsessed world it would have been considered a highly prized special edition collectible - to me it was the fact that it was a gift from my Dad which made it special.
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  1. What a wonderful trip down Memory Lane! I loved most of the same toys, especially the 100 Binney-Smith crayon box and Mr. Potato Head where you used real potatoes--not a plastic one. I'll be writing on my blog in December about one of my all-time faves, a toy vanity/dressing table. I loved Slinkies, and I found old toys so creative. We had to make believe and take action. While all the electronic toys and such have their own charms, give me Lincoln logs or Pick-Up Sticks anytime. I remember many a fierce game of Sticks with my best friend, Theresa, and her brother, Marty.

  2. Joyce - thanks for reminding me about Lincoln Logs. We never had a set of them so I forgot about them but they were a popular toy when I was a kid.

    I didn't have a vanity set and I never did get one of those mini kitchens, but I did have a set of real china dishes with sunflowers on them - I was born in Kansas and we still lived there when I first got them. I had those dishes until I gave them to a friend about 15 years ago for her daughter.

  3. I still like the feel of a Slinky in my hands.

  4. Rhea - it's always fun to play with toys as an adult - brings back the childlike part of our soul!

  5. Ah, Play Doh. I had the Fun Factory when I was a kid.

    I still have a Slinky. It's on the desk in my cube at work. I used it quite a bit when I worked in the Customer Care Dept. (I'd pull it out when I reached the point where I was tired of listening to a complaining customer). I find that I don't use it as much since I was promoted into the Merch Dept.

  6. Malcolm - you lucky duck, they didn't have the fun factory when I was a kid, just the Play Doh itself. I used to look at that as an adult and think, "man, could I have had fun with those extruders!", lol.

  7. I had an Etch-A-Sketch but no matter how much I tried I cold never manage diagonal lines.

  8. Nicholas - I know, learning the Etch-A-Sketch was a bear! I never got really good at it either - too impatient!


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