Every toy does something fun, so how do you pick your favorite one?
April 5, 2007 10:13 PM   Subscribe

What was in YOUR childhood toybox? Mr. Potato Head? Colorforms? Viewmaster? Magic 8 Ball? Weebles? G.I. Joe? Betsy Wetsy? Polly Pocket? No matter what generation you're from, The Vintage Toy Encyclopedia and The Big Red Toybox have facts and history on (almost) all of your playthings.
posted by amyms (54 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Mighty Max!
Wicked post.
posted by Count at 10:24 PM on April 5, 2007

The only thing I can find in a search for Star Wars is this blurb under Space Toys.

Vintage space toys can be divided into two chronological sections; before, and after GI Joe. Of course, I am not inlcuding the Star Wars period.

No Star Wars, no thanks.
posted by Dr. Lurker at 10:30 PM on April 5, 2007

Check out toybin.org for exhaustive information about the Transformers toys. 20 years = vintage, right?
posted by aliasless at 10:34 PM on April 5, 2007

I was poor. My friends had the toys.

That's probably why I now have kid's toys that my kid will never be allowed to play with.
posted by Kickstart70 at 10:35 PM on April 5, 2007

Some of my favorite toys were the Fisher Price Little People... I should have included that link (and site) in my original post.
posted by amyms at 10:50 PM on April 5, 2007

Before anyone DARES utter the label, GI Joes are ACTION figures NOT DOLLS.... damnit.
posted by eurasian at 10:51 PM on April 5, 2007

The site does provide some reasonably good background information on the toys they cover, but they're very stingy with the images. Needs more pictures! Some more colorful and snazzy web design is also in order, I'd say: the site looks kinda grim.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:52 PM on April 5, 2007

Before anyone DARES utter the label, GI Joes are ACTION figures NOT DOLLS.... damnit.

eurasian, G.I. Joe IS listed under the "Action Figures" category on the toy encyclopedia site, so your masculinity is secure... lol
posted by amyms at 10:57 PM on April 5, 2007

so your masculinity is secure...

I dunno about that... real men know how to read web pages! ;-)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:02 PM on April 5, 2007

oh heavens, what was the name of the toy with the pegs you pushed into a light box over a piece of black paper? i honestly can't remember but I do remember the scary clown face you could make out of it with the preset drawing. Nightmares were born out of that I'm quite certain.
posted by Holy foxy moxie batman! at 11:32 PM on April 5, 2007

If you really want information on G.I. Joe, go to yojoe.com.
posted by Rangeboy at 11:32 PM on April 5, 2007

oh heavens, what was the name of the toy with the pegs you pushed into a light box over a piece of black paper?

Lite Brite! You can even play with one online.
posted by amyms at 11:40 PM on April 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

Fun post, thanks amyms. The controversial dolls are hilarious.

Gee, Wham-O made great toys. YAYY trolls!

It looks like The Big Red Toybox is related to ToyNfo, the vintage toy encyclopedia, which is also a very good site.
posted by nickyskye at 11:46 PM on April 5, 2007

It looks like The Big Red Toybox is related to ToyNfo, the vintage toy encyclopedia, which is also a very good site.

That link is included in my original post, nickyskye :)

YAYY trolls!

I agree. Yay trolls! (Gawd, how I loved those things!) lol
posted by amyms at 12:01 AM on April 6, 2007

Major Matt Mason. Mattel's Man In Space. Everything else is commentary.
posted by Dizzy at 12:26 AM on April 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 12:28 AM on April 6, 2007

Mmm Plasti Goop. Cooking up plastic insects and plants. And Meccano . I think that was the exact box we had. Huh, apparently it's for *boys*. I did not know that.
posted by Listener at 12:33 AM on April 6, 2007

What? No Mr. Machine?
posted by wendell at 1:06 AM on April 6, 2007

I still have my GI Joe, somewhere. I had the dark haired one (this is circa 1973) and my brother the blonde one. I think I may still have one change of clothing. Jungle and camo.

The viewmaster was a favorite, too, though we didn't often get new reels, and dammit, I think my mother, like mother's everywhere, simply threw it out at some point. My favorite reel was something like "death of the dinosaurs."

Let's see...I loved Matchbox and Corgi cars, of course, and model trains...my dad had a modest N-scale layout which we were allowed to play with.

Wagons, too. I loved my wagon, all the way into my tenth or eleventh year. So much you could so with one.

Thanks for the memories!
posted by maxwelton at 1:23 AM on April 6, 2007

How about the surreal action figure based on real life handless private investigator J.J. Armes? The action figure (certainly not a doll) comes with substitute implements like suction cups, magnet, and machete (and of course, a hook that shoots a gun). Strangely, Armes once appeared as a hook-handed killer on an episode of Hawaii Five-O.
posted by hovercraft at 2:55 AM on April 6, 2007


posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:21 AM on April 6, 2007

GI Joes are ACTION figures NOT DOLLS

I prefer to think of Dusty, Flint, and the gang as male aspiration figures.
posted by drezdn at 6:28 AM on April 6, 2007

amyms, Yes, I did understood that both BigRedToyBox and ToyNfo are linked in your original post, honest, but I was wondering what the relationship between the two sites is. Two names for one site really.

omg, I haven't seen a Mr. Machine in donkey's ages. wow.

Yikes, the Voodoo game. Don't know that Dippity-Do is exactly a toy or McDonald's coffee stirrers but maybe for some.

For anyone going down nostalgia lane in the kids' science direction, singing science records and the general music department, the amazing KiddieRecords (both sites with music online).
posted by nickyskye at 7:27 AM on April 6, 2007

Yay! The Sunshine Family! I remember they came with instructions on how to make them furniture out of recycled milk cartons and spools.

I am in the middle of scanning the Christmas pictures from my childhood (70s/80s) that have toys in them. I am going to make image maps out of them, and these two sites will give me lots of info to link to.
posted by Biblio at 8:12 AM on April 6, 2007

Baby Boomers had fewer toys and fewer to choose from so they were more important to us. Which is why, I can after 40 years, damnit, recall each toy and each location.

I remember so clearly loooooong, boring car trips playing with my pathetic colorforms in the back seat or the hours spent in my girlfriend's closet playing with her illegal Barbie. Playing Cooties over at the baby sitter's house or lite brite over in my friend's garage. The magic 8 ball I lusted for and never got. All the Polly Pockets owned by my enemy. The hours and hours spent with my brother playing the Mousetrap game on our kitchen table or playing with the neighbors in their den because they had Life.

I swear my childhood toy memories are clearer then my memories of my twenties.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:25 AM on April 6, 2007

The Lite Brite jingle will still pop into my head occasionally, 20 years later.

"Lite Brite making things with light

What a sight

Making things with Lite Brite"
posted by vronsky at 8:55 AM on April 6, 2007

My aunt always referred to "Little People" as "Poor Souls", I think because my little cousin liked to drown them in the tub, the poor souls.

I liked the compressed-air water rockets, myself.
posted by everichon at 8:59 AM on April 6, 2007

And, man, did I like my Micronauts
posted by everichon at 9:00 AM on April 6, 2007

vronsky, dammit, I gotta work here! :o) Time to get some Merle Haggard streaming on the headphones....

I was amazed to see the GAF Viewmaster has made it well into the Internet / videogame age. (At least, Wikipedia seems to think they've lasted longer than the linked article has.) Of my childhood, my friends' kids and my kid's friends, I can't remember seeing anybody playing with one much past about 1972 or so.

I wonder if anybody ever thought about producing porn discs for 'em? Hmmm. If you had one with an electric motor that would advance the disc at the push of a button, so you could hold it and use it one-handed...
posted by pax digita at 9:10 AM on April 6, 2007

Meccano, heres the wiki and some some links . There is of course the other Mecano.
posted by adamvasco at 9:13 AM on April 6, 2007

Now I've got that damned Monchhichi jingle stuck in my head, and Monchhichis aren't listed on those pages and I never knew anyone who had one. Just a spontaneous recurrence of an old infection. I never knew it was spelled that way until I tried to google for Monchichi, though. How weird - that must have gone over well in the elementary schools.

Our next earworm will be "My Buddy".

Does anyone else get sad and depressed looking at these things?
posted by dilettante at 9:21 AM on April 6, 2007

posted by DuckFOO at 9:42 AM on April 6, 2007

I had small plastic monchhichi.

*off to go start a go-bot wiki, including my extensive fan-fic where the rock lords fight KISS*
posted by drezdn at 9:54 AM on April 6, 2007

Hmph. No Breyer horses? They were what the TRUE horse-obsessed girls played with...not those lousy My Little Ponies.

I still have some of mine, though my nephew broke one. Kids today...grumble....
posted by emjaybee at 10:15 AM on April 6, 2007

No Girder and Panel Building Set? Meh.

aw, here ya go, vronsky.

on closer thread inspection: Whoah! Plasti Goop! Inherited the set but not the goop. And anyway that shit freaked me out.
posted by dreamsign at 10:44 AM on April 6, 2007

In an old, brown, latch-locked suitcase my grandfather used on business trips in his prime, sitting dusty on the top shelf of a rarely opened closet at home, rests much of my childhood G.I. Joe collection. I'm referring to the small, Kenner-sized action figures - both with or without the heralded 'kung-fu grip.'

They're all there, inadvertently mingling in permanent inaction with a ziploc bag of green Army Men and a Tron notched-plastic-ribbon-activated lightcycle or two: Zartan, the chameleon swamp-dwelling mercenary of C.O.B.R.A., along with his cardboard dossier stating he's a schizophrenic (before they reissued him without that diagnosis), Snake Eyes, Wild Bill and his helicopter, Lady Jane, and many others.

I don't take them out anymore. Many of the pieces are likely lost or permanently corroded from misuse (peanut butter was a great quicksand!). But I can't seem to throw them away...I keep thinking someday, maybe, I'll have a boy of my own and I'll watch him create his own fantastic battle scenes and miniature dramas on the couch cushions and backyard oaks.
posted by NationalKato at 10:45 AM on April 6, 2007

Colorforms smelled funny but I ate them anyway.
(and... no raggedy ann? what the hell is wrong with these people?)
posted by merelyglib at 10:52 AM on April 6, 2007

Oh wow! A family has started a girder-and-panel-building-set business in their home, recreating and selling kits! That's about as die-hard as you can get.

The site's up and running, so maybe they're doing alright. Was going to try to pick up an authentic set at some point on Ebay but this would be cool. Nice to support the effort. Weird blue girders, though.
posted by dreamsign at 11:13 AM on April 6, 2007

Girder and panel? You mean Erector Sets? I never liked mine as much as I liked lego, for some reason.

emjaybee, my wife still has 50 or so Breyer horses. She was one obsessed horse girl, had a pony, even (the pony had to be put down in November, age 38).
posted by maxwelton at 11:29 AM on April 6, 2007

No Girder and Panel Building Set? Meh.
x2. No, x50.
Here's a page for those of you too young...
posted by Thorzdad at 11:39 AM on April 6, 2007

Big Red Toy Box didn't have anything specifically about Incredible Edibles, but Sam's Toy Box to the rescue. These little mold-cooking things -- I wonder if they were ever abused for cooking heroin? -- were generally known as Thingmakers for which you'd use Plastigoop or the edible Gobble-de-Goop. Many a rainy winter afternoon cooking and overcooking goop (or melting crayons) with these beauties -- especially the Cartoon Maker set with the Peanuts molds.

("Incredible Edibles" has probably already been a band name somewhere at least once. I bet "Plastigoop" hasn't, though.)
posted by pax digita at 12:30 PM on April 6, 2007

pax digita, I don't remember Incredible Edibles at all (looks like fun though), but I do remember some of the kids in my neighborhood having the Thingmakers/Creepy Crawlers sets... Now I have the cree-ee-ee-py crawwwlers jingle stuck in my head.
posted by amyms at 12:52 PM on April 6, 2007

All of these comments bring back wonderful memories, but the truly bestest toy ever was a big cardboard box, like the kind refrigerators came in, and me and my dad making the cooliest fort out of it.
And then destroying it.
Don't forget the destroying it part.
posted by Dizzy at 1:02 PM on April 6, 2007

I have hated Mr. Potato Head with the heat of a thousand white-hot suns since I was five years old, when, running to greet my grandfather -- who had just arrived at our home in Chicago for the first time, ever -- I *impaled* my bare foot on a pointy-backed plastic potato part lost in the side-yard by my older brother.

Come to think of it, perhaps I should hate my brother with the heat of a thousand white-hot suns, instead.
posted by deCadmus at 1:41 PM on April 6, 2007

Oh. And Wooly Willy rocked too!
posted by Dizzy at 2:59 PM on April 6, 2007

The biggest problem with Incredible Edibles was when you ran out of goop, you had to politick the 'rents to make that trip to the toy store for more. If they had more.

And yeah, second on the refrigerator cardboard cartons.
posted by pax digita at 4:18 PM on April 6, 2007

Before anyone DARES utter the label, GI Joes are ACTION figures NOT DOLLS.

(If you make them wear barbie dresses, are they action transvestites? You know, like Eddie Izzard?)

I won a 2XL in a crossword competition when I was about 8. It was worth about NZ$100 and was the most expensive thing I owned by an order of magnitude at the time. I still have it on my shelf - but its tapes have all unspooled and I lost the power cable. But its still cute (even if prior flatmates have hated its cheerful seventies squareness and wouldn't have it in the living room unless I put ears, whiskers and a tail on it and a sign saying 'don't hate me coz I'm beautiful').
posted by Sparx at 4:55 PM on April 6, 2007

Either *did understand or *understood, but not did understood. yikes.

ach, got to make up for my typos: Barbitch Dolls. Definitely not vintage. And nsfw.
posted by nickyskye at 6:28 PM on April 6, 2007

This going to date me, but the Whee-Lo was one of my favorite favorite toys!

posted by rmmcclay at 8:36 PM on April 6, 2007

Ah, it was Incredible Edibles, too. I remember that weird big oven face.

As for girder and panel, I rescued it once from the trash when my mom decided, oh, 20 years ago, that it was "too old" to keep around, but I wasn't around for the subsequent housecleaning. That's a great page, Thorzdad.
posted by dreamsign at 10:45 PM on April 6, 2007

I always preferred Trojan-Enz Lubricated myself.
posted by davy at 11:56 PM on April 6, 2007

The Evil Kenevil stunt cycle.
posted by Arthur at 9:07 AM on April 7, 2007

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