What were toys and games from the past like?

Toys and games have changed and evolved since the 1950s. Boys have always played with toy cars and trains, and girls with dolls. However, technology and the influence of film and TV have made toys from each decade distinctive. Since childhood is only a brief period, manufacturers were easily able to change the look of toys creating one new fad as soon as an old one finished.

The 50s

The 50s were an era of innovation in toys, just as much as in other fields. However, traditional roles were still re-enforced. Girls played at homemaking, whilst boys played with toy guns.

Traditional boys toys like Meccano and Dinky cars were still firm favourites, but they were joined by new rivals Matchbox, Corgi and Spot-On (made by Tri-ang).

Dinky Austin A30, 1950s

Some toymakers brought model cars to life; miniature car racing games became popular in the 50s. However, when Fred Francis gave his already popular Scalex cars an electric motor and a track with a groove instead of a rail, the definitive slot racing game Scalectrix was born.

Meccano had a foreign rival. A Danish carpenter called Ole Kirk Christiansen started selling a construction toy called 'Automatic Binding Bricks' in 1949. He later changed the name to Lego.

Dolls and dolls' houses were still firm favourites with girls. They also had play washing lines and toy cups and saucers. Young children of both sexes liked teddy bears, which continued to be popular since their introduction in the early 1900s.

Topics popular on television and the cinema influenced play in the 50s. Popular children's TV programmes such as the Flower Pot Men and Muffin the Mule spawned toy replicas and the best selling toy of 1954 was Sooty's Xylophone.

Anything from the Wild West, from cap guns to Cowboy and Indian outfits, was popular . Science fiction also influenced toys, introducing children to a world of ray guns and robots. With a constant diet of War films on the cinema and TV, the Second World War was also a popular theme.

Football was just as popular with 50s boys as it is today. They could enjoy playing soccer indoors when the classic football game Subbuteo was first marketed in 1947.

Monopoly c1950s

Board games were popular in the 50s in spite of the growing popularity of television. The American classic property trading game, Monopoly came to Britain in 1936 and an economy version was made during the War. It was still a top seller in the 50s and updated with new counters, one of which was a Rover 75.

Monopoly was joined by some new classic games in the post-war era. Scrabble was launched in 1948 and Cluedo in 1949.

The game Careers was first sold in 1957. Whilst Monopoly had the objective of amassing as much cash as possible and bankrupting your opponents (although its origins were in demonstrating the evils of speculation) Careers took a more balanced view of life, with the players having to choose their own goals - a combination of wealth, happiness and fame.

Space hopper, first marketed in 1968

The 60s

Playtime in the 60s was about innovation and tradition. Whilst traditional roles remained with girls doing pretend housework and boys still playing soldiers, science fiction gave way to the real space race and the inventiveness and freedom of the 60s brought new ways for children to play.

The 60s gave us Twister (1966), a game which the players (children or adult) contorted themselves into unthinkable positions and could finish head to backside with their friends. The Space Hopper first bounced onto the scene in 1968. Its bright orange colour was typical of the end of the 60s and the cartoon style face is full of fun. Was it meant to be kangaroo? Or was it influenced by the space race?

Sindy Doll, 1960s (image lozzy_j)

The 60s was also a decade for new dolls. The American invader Barbie launched in the late 50s, but Britain's own version Sindy arrived in the shops in 1963.

For years toymakers thought that boys would not play with dolls, but were proved wrong in the 60s by the sufficiently tough looking soldier called Action Man, which was based on an American toy called GI Joe.

The world of secret agents and spies came to the big screen in the 60s with James Bond. Corgi Toys were quick to cash in with a model of Bond's Aston Martin DB5 with a working ejector seat. Corgi introduced a number of cars based on film and TV and overtook Dinky in the toy car industry.

Spirograph 1960s

New ideas in design and technology influenced toys and games in the 60s. Two drawing toys which were originally intended for use in the adult world became classic toys. Etch-A-Sketch allowed children to produce detailed blue print-like drawings and shake the toy to rub them out and start again. The original Spirograph caused a sensation when it was launched in 1965. As well as winning Toy of the Year for 1967, its geometric patterns inspired fashion design in the 60s.

For younger children, part-time designer and teacher at the Hornsey College of Art, Patrick Rylands, devised Playplax. It was a construction toy made from transparent coloured shapes.

Times were changing in the world of toy cars. Mattel's new Hot Wheels brought fast moving toy cars as well as the style of Californian hot rods to British children in 1968. The Raleigh Chopper bike brought American hot rod style to UK children on a bigger scale in 1969.

Read more about Toys from the 60s

The 70s

The Space Hopper, the Raleigh Chopper and Mattel's model cars with Hot Wheels made their debut in the 60s, but in the 70s achieved their highest popularity.

The Chopper was revised with safety improvements to become the Mark 2 in 1972. Mattel did not have their own way for long with Hot Wheels. British rival Matchbox had already introduced Superfast Wheels in 1969 and converted their whole range to them in the early 70s.

Sindy continued to be a popular toy for girls and won Toy of the Year in 1970. That accolade also went to another doll in 1971, Katie KopyKat; Katie copied everything you wrote.

Another 70s' craze that had its origins in the 60s was Klackers, or Clackers: two acrylic balls that were made to click together. Experts could make them clack at the bottom and top in a circular movement, but safety concerns saw their early demise.

Invicta Deluxe Mastermind, 1970s

The Mastermind TV programme hosted by Magnús Magnússon had huge audiences in the 70s. However, the Mastermind Board Game made by Invicta in 1973 had no connection with the Mastermind TV show. It was all about breaking a secret code.

Lego was as popular as ever. It scooped Toy of the Year in 1974 and 1975. Other toys with their origins in the 50s and earlier were discovered by new generations of children. The football game Subbuteo gained plastic figures in 1967 and in the 70s was available in up to fifty different team strips. There were spin-off cricket and snooker games too. Scalextric was improved with new cars in the 70s and was as popular as ever. More traditional toys such as Hornby trains and Meccano continued to find a market.

MB Simon game, 1978

The big change in play in the 70s though was the advent of electronic games. The 70s gave us digital watches and pocket calculators and by the middle of the decade electronic toys and games as well. One of the first to capture the imagination of the UK public was Adman Grandstand, which could play a variety of sports, including a version of the Pong arcade game. The brightly coloured MB Simon game was also a big seller in 1978.

Star Wars was in the cinema in 1977 and a host of Star Wars inspired merchandise followed. Never before had the movie makers cashed in so much on the toy market, it was a portent for the new decade.

The 80s

Rubik's Cube, 1980

The 80s began with a puzzle from Eastern Europe. The Rubik's Cube craze sweep the country in 1980 and 1981. Hungarian mathematician, Erno Rubik, invented the Cube and Ideal Toys brought it to the UK in 1980. The Rubik's Cube craze quickly spread through school playgrounds in the early 80s and kids learned how to solve the puzzle by word of mouth.

Transformers Reflector, 1980s (assembled) (image  gallilao)
Transformers Reflector, 1980s (disassembled) (image  gallilao)

The popularity of Star Wars toys continued as two new movies came out, 'The Empire Strikes Back' in 1980 and 'Return of the Jedi' in 1983. Mattel did it the other way round with Masters of the Universe. They brought out a series of action figures based around a He-man character and a movie followed in 1987.

The big Sci-Fi toys of the 80s were the Transformers. Nothing to do with model railway sets, as I first believed, but a series of robots, cars, trucks and even household gadgets that could transform into something else.

Cabbage Patch Kid, 1980s (image Jeffiswithgod)

The 80s was also the decade of the home computer. Sir Clive Sinclair's ZX80 pointed the way and many a budding programmer cut their teeth on a ZX81, Spectrum or BBC Micro.

At the other end of the scale cute toys brought in big bucks. My Little Pony first appeared in 1981 and continued to charm little girls and some older ones until 1991. Cute sold us the Cabbage Patch Kids too. Each doll came with its own 'Adoption Certificate'. The craze swept America in the early 80s and quickly spread to the UK. The decade ended with Sylvanian Families, a collection of toy rabbits, beavers, hedgehogs, mice, bears and other woodland creatures. They came in families and had their own houses.

A taste of the future was in the shops for Christmas 1989. The Nintendo Gameboy was as pocket sized as a mobile phone from the 80s. It could play a variety of different games loaded from a cartridge. It came with the wall building Tetris game, which was curiously addictive.

Author: Steven Braggs, 2012

Your comments on toys and games from the past

Noddy's Peddle car, 1960s

"I am from India we used to play the games that are lost in time and many youngsters don't even remember today" Peter Kumar

"I still have my chopper bicycle in our garage whenever I take it out for a ride I pretty much get people stopping me and making me an offer." Surur Allie

"I am from Indonesia. 'ini pertama kali saya melihat mainan tahun 1970, saya ingin memiliki salah satunya'" Nanda Kurniawan

Google translate: This is the first time I see the toys in 1970, I want to have one

"hallo...if I have a time machine, I want to have one" Nanda Kurniawan

"I am 62 years of age this year. I was born in 1947. I will do my best to remember the early parts (13-15years). I think the games of playing cowboys and indians was finished at this stage. I think i still had my collection of dinkys (cars), and possibly a collection of cowboys and indians, that i would have bought in Woolworths. Also records were a big part of my collections (45's and lp's). I used to get a lot of my 45's in my local chipper. These i got when they were updating to what was new in the charts. These had the centre piece taken out so that they could play in the jukebox. I had a few centre pieces to suit so that i could play them on my record player.

I also used to buy a girls magazine called 'Valentine' the reason for this was they used to have transfers that you could iron onto your shirt, these were pictures of people like Elvis, Cliff Richard, etc.

I do not want to waffle on, so i hope this will be of interest to someone. If you want to contact me and ask me things that i did or remember from the early days just e-mail me. regards, " Des Burke

"The outdoor games we used to play- two ball on the wall, hare and hounds (involved either a paper or chalk chase), British bulldog, kick the can, Crackners (two plastic balls that you hit above and below your hand) A tennis ball in your mum's old tights ( looped around your ankle and jumped over with your other leg) Elastics (with two other friends holding the elastic open between their legs) Cats cradle, Hopscotch, skipping, the big ship sails on the ally ally ooh ( line game) hand clapping games, rounders, kiss the girl, kiss the boy, Swinging on a tyre on a tree.......what a great time we could have with next to nothing :)" Mo

"Im 9 and im trying to find out about toys from 50 years ago does anyone have any suggestions????" Bethany Dunion

"Does anyone remember Trik Trak, a battery car toy." Sean

"What about the construction toys? Besides Meccano (in original read and green colours) Lego was around (but I remember when wheels were introduced) and there were MiniBricks and Bayko, where plastic walls were built on a frame of metal wires. Those were my favourites." Les

"Barbie doll in the 60's her cousin Francie with real eyelashes (my favourite) Tuttie and Todd, Skipper and scooter etc, Sindy dolls, Comics - Twinkle for younger ones, Bunty with the cut out dolls on the back (hours of fun), Judy, Jackie, Beano, hotspur, I loved cutting out figures from catalogues - could play with them for hours. Lego hours of fun making dolls houses when we could not afford one. Tiny tears dolls, (floppy dolls) gonks from the sixties - loads of teenagers made them (they look like humpty dumpty with beatles style hair and long legs/arms. So much fun. In the 70's cats cradle, elastic skipping, playing two ball on the wall and marbles all popular. We still played cops and robbers and cowboys and indians - very much outdoor play as no computers. Making dens in the fields or wherever. Kisschase. Postmans knock." jackie

"Does anyone remember the game 'Froggy in the Mill Pond' and how to play?" Cathy Smith

"I have a game of Careers, found it in a charity shop a few years ago......very entertaining" Tracy

"does any one remember magic robot, a army figure with magnets that answers questions etc, weird, my dad (46yrs) used to have it and me and my brother used to play with it too over 25 years later!! fab, i love the 60's it makes me soooo nostalgic.xxx" Sally Cinnamon

"Sean, i remember Trik Trak I had a set just found set on e bay I can remember the car would go on floor and everyso often go on track to keep straight or go round a ben. Richard age 47 1/2 (Still also riding a chopper and a Grifter !)" Richard Seymour

"toys from in the past look so fun to play with." Samantha

"Anyone remember the 'Mechanoid' space robot toys? Loved them." John 16/04/2010

"i would love to take my kids back to my childhood (60s 70s) i remember my chipper(a small chopper bike lol) and geting an airfix flight deck.and shopping at woolworths buying winfield fishing stuff,oh can i have a 1/4 of cola cubes from the jar up on the shelf,damn i hope im still alive when the invent the time machine i would sell my soul for one lol,pc iphones mp3 players they just dont know how to have fun these days do they" mark 19/04/2010

"I think that this information is really good for people who are learning about tpys and games!!" leasha 16/05/2010

"is "The Merry Game of Floundering" being produced and sold today ?" HARRY LYTTLE 13/06/2010

"lots on toys
even pictures" 'Zu''Pa' 17/06/2010

"You were either a Hornby Dublo house (quite well off, traditional) or a Tri-ang house (plastic, more detail, more exciting accessories, cheaper) and never the trains should meet - most of the older Hornby stuff was three-rail - it had a separate power rail in the middle of the track - and even if you had the newer two-rail power system, the couplings weren't compatible with Tri-ang ones, you lusted after stuff from their catalogues but you knew it wasn't practical. This really was the Betamax/VHS dilemma for young train buffs." rod 07/07/2010

"Hi there, just browsing and reminising, does anyone remember the name of a game[toy] that was around in the late seventies about the same time swingball appeared, it was a long piece of string with 2 handles at either end and a ball[bhouy] in the middle,and the game was to pull the handles as hard as possible to shoot the bhouy up the line to your opponent, any answers out there would be very much appreciated, many thanks" anne mestre 07/07/2010

"Anne Mestre,

I really loved that game... it was awesome. I remember playing it endlessly with my brother. In my head it had a bright orange kind of rugby shaped hard ball and it was called "Going", but I've searched for this and can't find it anywhere, so I must be mistaken! It was a great game." Angela Dawson 17/07/2010

"Please send me some info on toys from the past present and future thank you very much.
This info is for my inquiry due in on friday so please help me i would really appreciate it thank you" jorjah lee mohi 17/08/2010

"We used to play an outdoor game ( 50's) we called Can a Can. There was a tin can at each end of a playing surface, 2 teams, a ball, and about all we cam remember is that when 1 team didn't so something, you got to run down and kick over their can, for points I think. Can anyone remember this one? and help with the details? Thanks" Marg 20/08/2010

"Does anyone remember the educational game in the 50's/60's called Contact Quiz? It was a board with hundreds of holes on which you would put a card with pictures on, maybe butterflies, under each butterfly would be a hole and to the left and right there would be a column of names and you had two wires one would be put in the hole under a butterfly and the other would be put in the hole beside a name and if correct a green light would glow but if wrong a red one would glow. Brilliant, it taught me all sorts of things! (not that I can remember them now, the old brain is not as sharp as it was then!)" Julia 17/09/2010

"I also remember my brother had a toy whose name I cannot remember. It was a kind of metal board that would stand against a wall and it had a ramp on the front, there was a little metal bus that would pull itself up one side, over the top and run down the other side and then come back again but I cant remember how although it sounded like a ratchet mechanism! It used to drive my mum mad!!" Julia 17/09/2010


"Ah,the sixties! I had a "Tressy" doll,with extendable hair,spirograph,gonks and trolls. The most loved toy,which I still have the slides for,was a toy projector. Many a happy hour reading the adventures of Donald Duck and his Disney friends. . . They were innocent days." Collette 07/10/2010

"Does anyone remember Chelsea Girl shop and holy cow tights" Michele 27/10/2010

"I used to have a game in the 70s that was a bit like a sloped bagatelle. It was made of clear plastic and had a panel to place question cards on. You fired the ball to the top and it went down one of ten criss cross channels (with questions under). It went through and came out in a different place at the bottom (answers below) and you had to plunge a red plastic plunger into the correct hole under the answers. If you did then you scored ten points, if you got it wrong then the ball used to fall through the hole into the tray underneath. I think it was called Fact something but I'm not sure. Am desperate to find the name for this." Jacqui Knight 07/11/2010


I remember the Chelsea Girl shop it was amazing!did you know it is actually River Island now! they took it over and changed the name!!! and the tight's American Tan I think was the favourite colour when I started wearing them! weird what you remember,Trolls were a big thing my sister got her one in Denmark when she went there on a school holiday and then they came out here, mine had black hair and you could buy outfits for them too, and then there was Gonk's,hairy thing's in different colours, I had a pair of Cindarella's glass slippers pink with glitter through them went to show them off to my Granny and when I went up the hill to her house the heal snapped of one of them only had them for about half an hour too I was gutted ! my first comic was when I was just about to start school it was called the Bimbo,then we had the Judy, Blue Peter Annuals, and in my teens Fab 208 Radio Luxembourg's magazine,and New Musical Express paper was great in the 70's too going to start crying in a minute.... happy times." Ruth 11/11/2010

"I LOVE MONOPLOY!!!!!!!!!! DIE X-BOX" BOB 17/11/2010

"Chelsea girl did become river island but never changed ownership, they just changed there image..i worked in mens department called concept man, and we where sad when we got told chelsea girl was going, they still dont forget where they came from.... a lot of people think it was sold but never was, still the same owners today as was when chelsea girl.. still lewis trust group and head office still good old chelsea house westgate london... bring it back !!!" paul arthur 17/11/2010

"Hi I have an early princetronic tv tennis game in boxed condition would you be interested regards jim weeds" jim weeds 30/11/2010

"Jacqui - that game was called Facts and Figures. We had it too.
I am doing a series of Memory Paintings about my 60's Scottish childhood. You can see what we thought of Sindy on my blog http://scribblesadagio.blogspot.com/2007/12/at-school-we-copied-history-from-board.html
I also loved my Vulcan (toy) sewing machine which did a chain stitch.
The board game L'attaque was a game of skill - no dice." Alison 13/12/2010

"The most fun I ever had was a 2 x 10 pine board laid across a short log, like a see saw. One would stand on one end the other would jump down on the other. Simultanously the one already on the board would jump and he would be catapulted up in the air. The idea is to land back on the board and then send the other guy flying and you would repeat. The most we could ever do is about three each before the board moved or we landed off course. FUN, FUN,FUN!!!" Randy Newton 08/01/2011

"looking thru the vintage toy's that I grew up with bring back memories. The toy's and games we have now don't use imagination." carolyn 05/02/2011


has anyone got infomation abut a card game called " PONTATE the new interesting and fascinating card game "
manufactured by the chad valley co ltd harbourne england.
many thanks" mick 22/02/2011

"hi just 2 let u know that u have a lot of info and can u send me a letter of all this info thanks

megan" megan 12/03/2011

"I'm trying to remember what a 'game' was called back in the 60's. It wasn't a game so much as an individual thing to do. There was a 'frame' make of white plastic and lots of little 'tiles' in various colors. Each tile had either 1,2 or 4 little legs that you pushed into the plastic frame. All the tiles were square or rectangle. If I knew what it was called, I might have some luck finding another set. Anyone have any ideas? Maybe where I can find it or search for it? Thank you in advance!!" Kitty 03/05/2011

"My wife and i are are in despair trying to remember the name of a craft/toy of the 60s
it was bright coloured thin plastic tubing,
these were plaited in various ways to create different shapes that generally ended up as key rings. Peter" Peter Jones 14/05/2011

"does anyone remember from the 60s a toy that looked like a bike but when you sat on it the wheels spread out and then in and thats how it moved i think it was made by hills" debbie 21/05/2011

"I have been trying to fine out if anyone remembers a playground game that used a square racket with a ball or shuttle cock don't remember which. I think it was called a space racket. It was late 50's early 60 maybe about that time. Was played in the New England area if that helps." SANDIE 30/05/2011

"I think the toy with coloured plastic tubing that you plaited was called scoobies or something similar. There is a retro toy shop just opened in Leicester UK and they had an original Spirograph." Dave 13/07/2011 12/07/2011

"toys from the sixties i had. sindy, barbie, tiny tears, a walkie talkie doll, i named tracy. two phones joined together by a long, long wire that would allow us to put a phone in each room, games of kerplunk, mousetrap. comics i read was mandy, beono and jackie. games outside, kerbie where you through a ball at the kerb for it to bounce back to you. your friend was on the other side and if you didnt hit the kerb then it was her go. hopscotch. ball in a stocking tied around the ankle and used to hit against the wall. hide and seek. rallio , may i, playground games at school, the big ship sails on the hali hali ho. and the farmer wants a wife. kiss chase. ho what fun. you only went home when you were hungry, unless we took sandwiches to the park." sue 08/08/2011

"I was just watching youtube on the telly with the song 'skinhead girls' blasting out and looking at the clothes that I used to wear back in the 70's. I too remember Chelsea Girl and holy cow tights. I also bought my first pair of stay press in Gwyns by the market. The toys that I used to play with when I was small were patch, (sindy's sister), tiny tears, magic robot,
elastics etc. I also played the big ship sails on the hali hali ho and the farmer wants a wife. Oh to be young again, it was such good fun! Now I'm married to a mod with a scooter and mix with loads of 80's skinheads too. I must admit that I'm still having fun." Fiona 02/09/2011

"I remember playing with and have been desperately searching for pictures of a great set of Plastic Toy Pans with faces. They were brightly coloured and had great faces on the side. We loved them. Many a great soup of noodles (worms), veg (leaves and petals) and beef stock (muddy puddle water) were cooked up in those!" Jo 14/09/2011

"I am looking for some adventure books that were available late 70's early 80's where you rolled a dice to move to different parts of the book to continue your adventure. These were suitable for 10 to 12 year olds." Janet Galt 18/09/2011

"The thin plastic tubing weaved into fobs came in a variety of vivid colours usually blue, white yellow red and black. It was called Scooby Doo, same as the new cartoon series that became a hit on TV in September 1969. SOme of the Scooby Doo fobs served for key rings, but many lads wore them affixed to their belts, often as an addition to school uniform.
Hope this clarifies things.
Simon" Simon Lake 20/09/2011

"Some things are missing:
Spud guns
Cap Bombs" Des Taylor 08/10/2011

"I am trying to remember the name of a building set I had as a child in the 60s, you had a green base full of holes, you then had lots of metal rods, bricks,windows and roofs. You then built a house or a station to go with your train set. Please help!!" ron cheetham 26/10/2011

"All the comments above bring back such lovely, carefree memories of happy days spent mainly outdoors. My Dad made me a pair of wooden stilts which everyone loved wobbling around on. I also had a pogo stick and space hopper. I used to make dens with my friends - we had one called Paint Your Wagon!! Often I would push my Tiny Tears around tucked up in a twin dolls pram with my other baby, 'Rosebud'. My brother had a mini pedal car which we enjoyed decorating with tissue flowers and streamers because the carnival was in town. We sometimes played with Spirograph, Monopoly, Mouse Trap, Happy Families card game or Etch a Sketch, Mr. Potato Head, using a real potato and a craft I loved but can't remember the name of which involved bending wire into petal shapes before dipping it into a special paint which would fill the gaps creating beautiful flowers. I loved that. If only we could turn the clock back." kathy everitt 27/10/2011

"OMG kathy we have so much in common,hahahha,i had all that too.was your twin dolls pram a shiny turqiosy blue? i had tiny tears & teeny tiny tears too and would take them to the shops so i could buy a jambery bag which was packed with lots of goodies for about 5 pence not sure? now there like 1£ or more?" linda willis 30/10/2011

"hi i was just wondering if anyone could help me remember the name of a toy that i only have a faint recall of,, it was something to do with chickens in side what i remember was a dome, i think they were pecking at something in the thing and i remember the colour yellow.... just not sure what this was and its been bugging me for a very long time" margaret 04/11/2011

"OK Anne Mestre and Angela Dawson, a bit late but I think the toy you're talking about was called Shuttle Ball." Micky Vale 09/11/2011

"Does anyone remember the name of the board game that was a map of the world with holes near each city. You had to spin an alphabet wheel and you had to put toothpicks into as many cities that began with the letter your spinner stopped on. There was a mini hourglass that gave you only a short time to find the cities. Would love to know the name of this game. Thanks." Pam 09/11/2011

"On 3/5/11 Kitty wrote "I'm trying to remember what a 'game' was called back in the 60's. It wasn't a game so much as an individual thing to do. There was a 'frame' make of white plastic and lots of little 'tiles' in various colors. Each tile had either 1,2 or 4 little legs that you pushed into the plastic frame. All the tiles were square or rectangle. If I knew what it was called, I might have some luck finding another set. Anyone have any ideas? Maybe where I can find it or search for it? Thank you in advance!!" I'm here looking for info on the same toy. I believe it was called "Snap Its" or "Snap Ins". They cam in differnt size sets that could be combined. I had one set with a big picture of Bugs Bunny holding a carrot. Another set had the theme of travel. There was a picture of a antique car, a rocket, a hot air ballon, a stage coach, and a race car as I remember." Steve B 10/11/2011

"OMG!!!! What a great site this is. I am giving a presentation at the local primary school on what it was like 50 years ago as a child. I couldn't remember the words to the games we played and I would like to thank you all for bringing back such wonderful memories." Jackie Haley 21/11/2011

"I still have a set of telephones with the long wire so u cud talk to someone in another room, still in original box." Beverley richardson 01/12/2011

"With reference to Ron Cheetham's query above, I think I know the name of the building set with green base full of holes, metal rods, bricks,windows and roofs.....was it Beta Builder? - or something similar?

In the late sixties I remember my Rota-skip - a plastic hoop with a ball and string attached, which swirled around your ankle as you jumped over the ball. I also remember Clackers - which were banned because they shattered." Christine Stroud 06/12/2011

"Angela Dawson and Anne - i've just found this site - the game was indeed called Going - I used to play endlessly too!" Sara G 16/12/2011

"We use to play a game that had 2 plastic boards(?).They were blue and red.They were about 7"or 8" square(I think).there was a rat maze on each one.you would hold them in your hands and place a marble at the top.The marble would race down through the maze as you tilted the board up.the object of the game was to get your marble to the end of the maze first. we use to play it at school at play time.does anyone remember the name of this game?" jan coffey 29/12/2011

"Hi reply for Ron Cheetham 26/11/2011 re building set, I think you are talking about Bayko building set, I had one and it was brilliant, much better than a dolls house especially as my brothers could use it as well. Many years ago I saw one in a museum in York, very nostalgic!!" Carol 03/01/2012

"When I was younger late 60's early 70's we had plastic building bricks that came in a tin can, there were 2 of them, they were different colored (red, black, white and clear,) there were also windows and doors different styles that had tips on the top (that fit inside the brick so they would open and close. I don't remember the name of them and have been trying to find them so I could play with my grandson, so if anyone knows the name of them and where I can get them please let me know." Diann 08/01/2012

"i was brought up on the hemans estate sw8 in the 50s 60s 70s in the early days we played a game called "BOX" i know it originated some time before i was born 1953 it was a game like run outs, you had 2 teams and the team that had to hide (on the estate only i think) had to be caught, and returned to the box (the platform of our local hall) and gaurded by any number of their opponenents but if you could get back you could tap your foot on the ground like a step to release them. anybody remember" dennis" midget" lundie 18/01/2012

"Does anyone aged 60 and over remember a construction set made of strong plastic with squares, rods and wheels? The black rods looked a bit like liquourice !!!! Was it called Makiemore or something like that! Please help!!!" Doris 20/01/2012

"Doris (20/01/2012)- it was "Mak-E-Mor", made in polythene plastic, available in the 60's, we had loads at my primary school. We used to nick the short square section plastic linking pieces, to set on fire thinking they would make stink bombs. They didn't. Saw some on ebay last year. Slightly similar was a building set called TEK. I had set 10 and set 30. The Mak-E-Mor had squares with small suare recesses in the edges to link with other bits. The TEK stuff had little prongs on the edges that pushed into holes in other pieces. Hope you find this useful! Dave" Dave H 01/02/2012

"can anyone remember a quiz game that was a plastic unit with about 20 slider swicthes on it. you inserted a card that had punched holes on it into the game, then answered questions by sliding the switches to posistion 1,2 or 3. if all 20 answers where correct then a popper (head) would pop up .
i think it began with z ???" paul soper 19/02/2012

"Trying to a find a game that my uncle got out of the loft and I accidentally broke it...

It has a red base and a clear platic top that moves by using two handles. The idea of the game was make a silver ball move from start to finish without it falling through any of the holes in the moving table top. A bit like a topsy-turvey kind of game." Stephen 05/03/2012

"My childhood was spent moving back and forth between Great Britain and the USA. I remember a garden playset. There was a plastic board with holes in it and you would place the flowers in the holes to develop a flower garden in various patterns." Paul 07/03/2012

"Hi, In answer to Ron Cheetham's question of the building set with a green base and rods etc, the make was BAYKO BUILDING SETS.I still have several pieces and spent MANY MANY hours building all types of houses etc." Mike Baish 28/04/2012

"Does anyone remember a metal clockwork toy that WOOLWORTH'S sold in the late 50s. The size of it was approx 15" long x 5" high.
It had 2 tiny trams and they made their way to the top of the toy by means of clockwork driven ramps. When one tram reached a certain point, another ramp would take over and take the tram up to the next level. Meanwhile the other tram made it's way down to the bottom to start the process all over again .ABSOLUTELY ENDLESS FUN!" Mike Baish 28/04/2012

"Hi, i remember as a child in the sixties I had a doll that talked, I think it was a Chatty Cathy, but can not find any info about British ones only American or Canadian, does anyone else remember these dolls, or ones like it,
it id driving me crazy trying to remember." alison 06/05/2012

"Pam, who wrote on 9/11,I have been trying to find out the name of that game too! I played it at my grandparents' house when I was little, in the 1950s. It was theirs and it looked old then, so I assume it was made much earlier. That was the most fun to find the most cities with a certain letter of the alphabet before the time ran out. If anyone remembers this game, please tell us." Marcia 15/06/2012

"I remember Bayco building sets. It was always on the top of my Xmas wish list to get the next set up in the series.
I still have mine in the loft. I thought it was brilliant for learning to plan and think ahead and count out all the parts required, and how to work out variations on the designs in the instructions. I should have gone into a career in construction or planning, but didn't. I often consider getting it out for children in the family, but I just don't think they would appreciate it as I did." Pam Bell 24/07/2012

"Anyone remember the little plastic sailboats with the Valentine suckers in them? Or the little plastic ball and cup? Or a toy that walked up the wall? I think the name of that one was Orbie. I loved it and my brother broke it soon after I got it for Christmas." Rita Bailey 30/07/2012

"can you tell me the name of a building game that you used a small brick and flour and water for cement and included a small trowel" alan ball 30/07/2012

"Anyone remember a toy where you made a garden You had a piece of stiff card covered with a flock to look like a striped lawn. Then rectangular brown plastic blocks with holes in, you had a flower stem and a separate leaf section with different flowers to put on top. you then used a special tool to push the flower into one of the holes, you did lots of these to fill the flower bed. what was it called? loved it." Sandra 02/08/2012

"love reading your memories does any one remember atoy from woolworths monkey on a stick you could make him do acrobats ? My sister and i also had sindy,paul,patch,tressy dolls,spacehopper,also little dolls in different outfits i think called annabelle.We also had small wooden dolls .My favourite toys were jigsaws and cutout dolls with lots of outfits.I had robin comic when very young any one remember nutty noddle?Later i had bunty ,diana and then jackie,happy days" linda 05/08/2012

"outdoor game what was it called the rage of the early 80,s in the garden ,the park and on the beach,,,2 player you stood either end, in your hands a handle in each this was conected by 2 lines to your opponants handles,,,the harder and quicker you widened your arms ,sent the shuttle ,ball to your opponant which traveled back and forth to you." g sandy 19/08/2012

"Partial answer to

outdoor game what was it called the rage of the early 80,s in the garden ,the park and on the beach,,,2 player you stood either end, in your hands a handle in each this was conected by 2 lines to your opponants handles,,,the harder and quicker you widened your arms ,sent the shuttle ,ball to your opponant which traveled back and forth to you." g sandy 19/08/2012

I remember these, made your shoulder ache.

I threw one away last year when I found it in the shed, now my sons are too old to bother.

I found http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/archive/index.php/t-192225.html said his was called a Zip-Zaps

Then using this as a search finally found


Not the toy you mentioned, but perhaps it will give you a start in finding the exact image.

I have spent an hour on this, as a challenge, got to do other things now." Phil 25/08/2012

"Sandra (05/08/12) I too loved the garden game where you had plastic "flower beds" with a tool to put in your flowers and leaves. I remember saving my pocket money all summer to buy the greenhouse. I know that the company had a green coloured logo but I can't remember the name of the toy. Anyone else remember?" Jill 04/09/12 04/09/2012

"i have a boxed,teeny train set,the smallest complete train set ever made,so it says on the box,it comprises of a metal clockwork engine,a passenger wagon and track to form a cicle ,any information anybody may havewould be appreciated" bill jones 15/11/2012

"Hi, does anyone remember the marble boards we took to school. We made them ourselves with nails and string and the idea was to create a marble run that when another child used one of their marbles on your board, if their marble made it all the way to the end then you had to give them one of your marbles, but if their marble got stuck on the run, then you got to keep their marble. Nails in a board and then string the pathway with string or wool, etc.
I would really love to introduce this idea to my son and was hoping someone might have some memory of these. Any examples they could offer or even a website with examples. I couldn't find any mention of these on the internet?
Thanks" Sharon 20/11/2012

"1950s race track car" Stephen 22/12/2012

"retro fashion looks so awesome in the 50s 60s and the 70s. AWESOME" roachy 19/02/2013

"My father had a game in the 40s or 50s called something like Meccano. but you could cut the metal to the length you wanted and could bend it to the desired shape to build things. He thinks it was called Juneero (not sure of spelling) does anyone else remember this and what the correct spelling was?" sue steed 04/03/2013

"Could someone please help me with information about a paper sets collectable game we played at home and at school in 1960,s/70,s. We knew them as "swaps" and they were purchased from any bookstore. They featured animals,people, insects, angles, cherubs etc and also came in large sets of two people for example. The object of them was to simple swap them to get a complete set." lou 04/04/2013

"Does anyone remember perriwinkles penny bricks (not sure of spelling) I remember playing for hours with my set in the early 60s

Steve." Stephen Meek 27/05/2013

"Jan Coffey 29/12/2011, did you ever get an answer to the name of this marble maze game with the two hand-held 8" red and blue boards? The object of the game was to beat your opponent in getting the marbles through the 3 tracked mazes on one side or the circular maze on the other side. I'd love to know, thanks." Christine Anderson 29/11/2013

"does anyone remember the 1970s cars that were designed to fall apart when the collided, you then had to build them again ? hours of fun !
oh and a loved my furry womble" alex 15/12/2013

"Yes, I think I had some when I was a kid. They were meant to be old banger from banger racing, but I don't remember what it was called." steven 15/12/2013

"I am looking for a set of building logs I used to play with in school, in the early 1950s. They looked like all different size curly pasta. They were made of a light color wood. You made your own shaped building by fitting the pieces together. The pieces ranged from 2 to 8 inches long and 1/2 inch in diameter ." Joseph 18/12/2013

"Trying to figure out name of toy, had a racetrack under a dome, 4 colored race cars each attached to their own "circle" of track that moved by a player repeatedly tapping a lever sending a marble or steelie arcing up to drop into a hole-4 could play at once. I think it was made in the 50's, I only remember playing it in mid-60's, maybe as late as '68 but just really not sure...Help?" karynmcb 28/12/2013

"I had a building set in the 60s that I think was called beta build,it was not the bayco set.
mine had green bases and bricks,windows and roof tiles.
the windows were all different sizes and would open as would the doors." wetswab 12/01/2014

"To Jill 04/09/12 and Sandra 02/08/2012 and Paul 07/03/2012: I loved this game! It was called Floral Miniature Garden and had very true-to-life flowers. http://i.ebayimg.com/t/Britains-Herald-Floral-Garden-1960-Shop-Display-Sign-/17/!BeTOMf!!Wk~$(KGrHqQOKiIEq49g4CNKBK8udbmUEg~~_35.JPG has a picture from the 60s advertising brochure." Julian 18/05/2014

"As a child in the 50s I loved my bus conductor set with conductors cap and bus tickets that I had to punch holes in with my metal punch machine on a strap that you wore round your neck, also loved my post office set with little forms to fill in, stamps, envelopes and telegrams etc ,and my gun belt with two holsters and guns that took caps and a row of bullets, we used to make our own Indian head dresses with strips of corrugated cardboard that we used to stick chicken feathers in.I loved my toy grocery shop too" Priscilla Harvey 15/07/2014

"I remember playing a game that you could play on your own where you held an old stocking with a tennis ball in the toe section. Standing with your back against a brick wall & hitting the ball across either side of your body or between your legs, whilst you recited a verse of some sort. Can anyone remember the name of that game or the verse?" Carolyn T 06/10/2014

"The face on the spacehopper was a kangaroo,the face was my dads design Steve Farmer who worked at mettoy Northampton. Sadly he passed away last year aged 63 but everytime I see a spacehopper it makes me laugh and remember my dad.....and yes he was absolutely crackers!" jay farmer 11/10/2014

"Paul, 2012, I also had a garden game with holes in the base for the flowers and plants to be arranged in. Mine wasn't plastic, though, it was all metallic. This would have been the early 50s. Has anyone any pictures? Chris R 30/12/14" Chris 30/12/2014

"I remember the little garden sets where a little tool would push flowers into flower beds! There were little buckets and all sorts and I had the Bayko set too and used them together, hours and hours of endless fun!!

Mike Baish I think you are talking about the toy that I remember and mention in my post at the top of this page in 2010?

Nobody seems to remember my game, Contact Quiz though! I am so disappointed! It taught me so much!!" Julia 20/01/2015

"At past your birth, even crazy is old jump if you just 50s So so no. k" gerick B 25/06/2015

Wow reading some of these comments has brought back so many memories if growing up.
I have an uncle who will be 60 soon & have been trawling the net looking for toys that he would have played with & come across this site- brilliant.
I work with people who have dementia so this is info is ideal for reminiscing" Tracey Chapman 09/09/2015

Can anyone help me?In the early to mid 70's I had a board game called I think (Street Riot 2000).All I can remember is it involved police on one side of the board and rioters on the other!. Its seems bizarre now for such a game to be available even back then.I was about 9 or 10 yrs old at the time.Did anyone else have the game?
Thanks in advance.
Mat" Matthew Horner 28/09/2015

"the Paper sets you ask about were scraps." Donna 18/11/2015

"Does any one remember a drawing game,you had a stencil with numbered shapes and when drawn correctly, drew a complete picture" christine adams 05/01/2016

"@ Sally Cinnamon - that game still exists in reproduction - I remember it too and bought one for my two boys the other day and they love it. http://www.smartstart-toys.co.uk/magical-robot-quiz-game.html It first came out on the 50's - amazing how these things come round again." Samantha 06/05/2016

"does anyone remember a game where the was ball bearings and cards with different subjects of trivia ,ie sports ,tv , you placed a card on the front panel i think fired a ball up and as it entered the question on the card you had to move something to stop the ball so went somewhere other than the lost questions are ?? it still has me looking after all these years ,i had it early 70s ,,red or dark orange ,Ipad size ? i would just love to see it again and remember it better ,, thanks anyone" karl bensley 19/05/2016

"The one toy that really impressed me as a child in the mid Sixties was the Super Ball. Here was a ball that could bounce very, very high." Basil 27/07/2016

"I've been reading through and have been trying to find an answer for someone before asking but I can't! Sorry! So my question... back in the mid 80s I had a toy but I have no idea what it was called. Basically it was like a scalextrix set but the cars were battery powered and the track was like a yellow plastic washing line. You would connect up the yellow track to red squares, put the car on and it would just go round in circles following the track. Any ideas? Many thanks" matthew 03/08/2016

"I grew up in the 70/80's. I was very pleased with the toys you showed. I had the Etch a sketch,Monopoly,Barbie and Ken Doll with a RV, The Game of Life,and the Cube. During the 80"s a lot of kids like myself got into the video games.The Atari game system was the first.The vid games I played on my system were centipede, and space invaders. Def the predecessor of Wii, and Nintendo." Yvonne 13/08/2016

"i looking to buy at a good price a playshool rag doll jemima doll can you help me do you take paypal" mary helen cookm 14/10/2016

"Hi could anyone help me we had a plastic train set in the early seventies the train ran on a track and drove onto a turntable and rotated then carried on up and down the track it would also stop at an automated lift which was activated by the train that's about all I can remember thanks...." graham 07/12/2016


"I have memories of the ball in the stocking - nobody at work would believe me - French skipping with elastic around mum's dining chairs, clackers (bruised wrist), a more sophisticated ball in sock with the plastic hoop around the ankle. Had hours of fun with Spirograph. Dolls were Tressy and Toots (could make their hair grow), Barbie and Skipper, Lady Penelope and Mary Make Up (plain face and you drew on make up with felt pens)." jane 09/01/2017

"I am looking for a card/board game made by Evicta but designed by Bev Craig called "Know the Future with the Osiris Board". It consisted of cards with a hole in them and a board with stars scattered over it. There were possibly 4 columns with instructions written on the inside cover. Can anyone advise where I could buy this rather old but very enjoyable game?" Vera 11/01/2017

"Looking for information on a toy rifle. It was made by Brooks Toys Ltd in England. Time frame 1960"s. Looks like a toy rifle Lone Star made only has a white stock. Thanks so much." Dayle 02/04/2017

"The garden game was by brittens and called floral garden - I had as a girl and buy on ebay for grandaughter - want to know the name of a game we had with plastic shapes with ridges round the edge that fitted together- there were ovals,long, diamond,round etc pieces - we made humpty dumpty shaped men - anybody know the name?" carol ward 05/06/2017

"To Jay Farmer, may your father rest in peace, I still at 45 have my space hopper that I was bought in the 70s. Brillant design, I might have to get it out in the garden and see if at 12 stone, I can still go on it, Many thanks to your father, and of course to my mother and father for buying me it, does anybody else shed a tear from looking at peoples comments and the toys we knew and loved." Darran Wigg 01/12/2017

"Did anyone remember playing "flicks" with there cards sets that you used to get bubble gum in? You could either stand your cards up against the wall and your opponent would have to flick their cards at them and knock them down (and they claimed those ones) or you could lay them flat and you had to flick your card so that they ended up laying on top (you claimed those ones) I can't even get my great nephews and nieces to flick them let alone skilfully aim and direct them!!" Carol Barnes 14/02/2018

"Do you have vintage playground balls from the sixties in mint condition?" Liz knapp 15/08/2018

"One of my favourite toys in the 1960s was the Britains Minature Garden. There were many sets available to buy so the garden became more intricate. Little walls, rockeries, stripey lawns, greenhouse, lawnmower,trees, pretty flowers and many more items to put together. Hours of entertainment, all thanks to Gem in Nottingham that sold the kits." Catherine Tinley 09/07/2019

"Remembers a favourite toy of the late 50s comprising a tin plate small Sabena helicopter. Maybe 6 or 7 inches long with three rotor blades of an early nylon type flexible material. A long wire of thirty inches or so came from the side body of the helicopter to a handset with a winding handle. The wire was wrapped around with a continuous thinner shiny wire. This turned, rotating to take the motion into the chopper body. Tilting the wire from the box made the body move about and the varying rotor speed altered the lift component. Very effective within a domestic room, enabling hover, landings etc. An amazing toy for the time and sadly, long missing. R/C today is all too easy!" Adrian G4LED 11/09/2019

"Does anyone remember a game where you have 2 face's that faced each other with mouth's that you had to shoot discs into, one of the girls I work with had it but she can't remember the name" joe 19/10/2019

"I am trying to remember the name of a toy I played with in the 70s/80s and I hope someone can help. It was a blue flat plastic hoop with a handle you held. The idea was to put a ball on the inner edge and by swinging and rotating your arm the ball would rotate Around the hoop. I was fascinated how the ball stayed on the hoop whilst upside down and didn't fall out!" sue 27/05/2020

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Retrowow - vintage, retro and social history

20th Century History ★ Antiques & Collectibles

Retrowow - vintage, retro and social history

★ 20th Century History ★ Antiques & Collectibles ★