Toys, Toys, Toys, and Toys

When I was young, I had the great luxury of having great toys such as legos, gi joes, hot wheels, match box, ninja turtles, and even a power wheels truck:

These are a few toys that I remember from my child hood:


Legos allowed kids to be architects without a degree. Some of the structures that I built were pretty strong. I would always put alot of detail in whatever I built, whether it be a car, truck, house etc. My cousin and I would build trucks, and when we were done building it we would face our two cars towards one another with one of us on one end of the hall way, and the other on the other end. Then we would roll our cars as fast as we could towards the other and hoping they would hit head on. When they hit head on usually one would literally EXPLODE into a billion pieces. Then we would repair them and do it all again. We also built cities like this one below.

Nov 142

The Lego Group began in the workshop of Ole Kirk Christiansen, a carpenter from Billund, Denmark, who began making wooden toys in 1932. In 1934 his company came to be called Lego. It expanded to producing plastic toys in 1940. In 1949 Lego began producing the now famous interlocking bricks, calling them “Automatic Binding Bricks”. These bricks were based largely on the design of Kiddicraft Self-Locking Bricks, which were released in the United Kingdom in 1947. Lego modified the design of the Kiddicraft brick after examining a sample given to it by the British supplier of an injection-moulding machine that the company had purchased. The bricks, manufactured from cellulose acetate, were a development of traditional stackable wooden blocks that locked together by means of several round studs on top and a hollow rectangular bottom. The blocks snapped together, but not so tightly that they required extraordinary effort to be separated.

The company name Lego was coined by Christiansen from the Danish phrase leg godt, which means “play well”. The name could also be interpreted as “I put together” and “I assemble” in Latin, though this would be a somewhat forced application of the general sense “I collect; I gather; I learn”; the word is most used in the derived sense “I read”.

The Lego Group’s motto is kun det bedste er godt nok which means ‘only the best is good enough’. This motto was created by Ole Kirk to encourage his employees never to skimp on quality, a value he believed in strongly. The motto is still used within the company today.

The use of plastic for toy manufacture was not highly regarded by retailers and consumers of the time. Many of the Lego Group’s shipments were returned after poor sales; it was thought that plastic toys could never replace wooden ones.

By 1954 Christiansen’s son Godtfred Kirk Christiansen had become the junior managing director of the Lego Group. It was his conversation with an overseas buyer that struck the idea of a toy system. Godtfred saw the immense potential in Lego bricks to become a system for creative play but the bricks still had some problems from a technical standpoint: their locking ability was limited and they were not very versatile. In 1958 the modern brick design was developed but it took another five years to find the right material for it. The modern Lego brick was patented on January 28, 1958; bricks from that year are still compatible with current bricks.

Now that the LEGO builders all have since grown up, there are “grown up” kits for the kid in all of us, such as this Frank Lloyd Wright inspired kit:

Lego Falling Water

When my parents couldn’t afford LEGOS they would buy me things you could get a longs, and other stores that had cheap toys such as these:

Guillow’s Flying Machine Rubber Band Propeller Airplane


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Classic rubber band powered race car

Wind up the rubber band, pull the car back, and watch it go! Made of lightweight plastic so it can go far and fast!

Lincoln Logs

Lincoln Logs are a toy consisting of notched miniature logs, about ¾ inches (1-2 cm) in diameter. Analogous to real logs used in a log cabin, Lincoln Logs have notches in their ends so that small model log buildings can be built. In addition, a Lincoln Logs set has windows and doors to make the buildings more realistic. More modern sets also come with figures of humans and animals that match the scale of the buildings.

Lincoln Logs were invented in 1916. by John L. Wright, a son of the notable architect Frank Lloyd Wright. In 1918, they were marketed by the Red Square Toy Company and by John Lloyd Wright, Incorporated of Chicago, Illinois. While it is often assumed that the name of the toy relates to President Lincoln, it is also a reference to the inventor’s father, since Frank Lloyd Wright’s given middle name was “Lincoln”. Lincoln Logs originally came with instructions on how to build Uncle Tom’s Cabin as well as Lincoln’s log cabin.

The architecture of the Imperial Hotel basement in Tokyo, designed by John’s father, which used a unique foundation of interlocking beams to make the structure “earthquake proof”, assisted in the designing of the toy logs.

The sets were originally made of 100% wood, with varying colors of roof pieces, but by the 1970s almost all the wood had been replaced by plastic. However, in more recent years, they have reverted to real wood on all their sets.

Erector Set

Erector Set Box

Erector Set by Gilbert

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Erector Set is the trade name of a toy construction set that is popular in the United States. Patented in 1913 , it consists of collections of small metal beams with regular holes for nuts, bolts, screws, and mechanical parts such as pulleys, gears, and small electric motors.

The Erector Set was invented by A.C. Gilbert in 1911, and was manufactured by the A. C. Gilbert Company at the Erector Square factory in New Haven, Connecticut, from 1913 until its bankruptcy in 1967. The Gabriel company of Lancaster, Pennsylvania bought the Erector name, and continued to make nearly-identical sets into the 1970s and 1980s.

Currently sold “Erector” sets are actually Meccano sets manufactured by Meccano S.N. of France, part of the Nikko Group of Japan. They do not have the flanged beams of the original Gilbert Erector Sets. In the U.S., since Jan. 2006, these Erector sets have been distributed by Nikko America.

The Erector Set is believed by many to have been the subject of the first national advertising campaign in America for a toy. Its great success made it part of American folk culture, although its popularity has faded in recent decades in the face of competition from molded plastic construction toys, electronics, and other more “modern” toys.

Scores, perhaps hundreds, of different Erector Set kits have been made over the decades, most famously the “No. 12 1/2” deluxe kit that came with blueprints for the “Mysterious Walking Giant” robot.

Interestingly in 1949, an Erector set was used to build the precursor to the modern artificial heart by Dres. William Sewell and William Glenn of the Yale School of Medicine. The external pump successfully bypassed the heart of a dog for more than an hour.

An extensive collection of Erector sets, model trains, chemistry sets, radioactivity experimentation kits, microscopes, and other A. C. Gilbert Company scientific and educational children’s toys is housed in the Eli Whitney Museum, in Hamden, Connecticut.

Fiddle Stix

Train Whistle

( I think I drove my parents nuts with this one)

Ninja Turtles

( I had almost every one they had out. I still have them)

GI Joes

(I had the small figures.. Kung Fu Grip not included lol)

They also had a big figure, and that was the first edition like this one:

G.I. Joe was introduced by Hasbro at the American International Toy Fair in New York, February 1964. G.I. Joe was “America’s Movable Fighting Man.” This was new territory in imaginative play for boys – G.I. Joe was not a “doll” he was an “action figure.”

Toy designer Stan Weston approached Hasbro in 1963 with the idea of a pose-able military action figure, as a tie-in to The Lieutenant, a a television series produced by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. The TV series failed, but the G.I. Joe action figure was a hit.

Early popularity brought an abundance of additions to the G.I. Joe line. G.I. Joe action figures dressed as soldiers from Canada, Britain, Australia, France, and some “enemies” from Japan, Germany and Russia. 1966 saw the addition of talking G.I. Joe, a “Green Beret” set, and “Action Girl G.I. Nurse,” complete with Red Cross clothing, crutches, medical equipment and a very bad hairdo.

In 1969 Hasbro began to emphasize “adventure,” not battle, in the accessory sets and we were quickly sending G.I. Joe on missions of undersea rescue and into outer space. The “G.I. Joe Adventure Team” soon had “real” hair and “kung-fu grip.”

G.I. Joe Action MarineG.I. Joe Action PilotG.I. Joe Action Sailor

These are items that you may of forgotten all about:

Classic Tiddly Winks in a Tin

The game began as an adult parlour game in Victorian England. Joseph Assheton Fincher filed the original patent application for the game in 1888 and applied for the trademark Tiddledy-Winks in 1889. John Jaques and Son were the exclusive distributors of the game named Tiddledy-Winks. However, competition was quite fierce, and for several years starting in 1888 other game publishers came out with their own versions of the game using other names, including Spoof, Flipperty Flop, Jumpkins, Golfette, Maro, Flutter, and many others. It became one of the most popular crazes during the 1890s, played by adults and children alike. In its earlier years, many different varieties were produced to meet the marketplace demands, including those combining tiddledy-winks principles with tennis, basketball, croquet, golf, and other popular sports and endeavours. Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, the public perception of the game changed.

The birth of the modern game can be traced to a group of Cambridge University undergraduates meeting in Christ’s College on January 16, 1955. Their aim was to devise a sport at which they could represent the university. Within three years the Oxford University Tiddlywinks Society was formed; although the two universities had been playing matches since 1946. The English Tiddlywinks Association (ETwA) was founded in 1958. In the same year, an article appeared in The Spectator entitled “Does Prince Philip cheat at tiddlywinks?” Sensing a good publicity opportunity the Cambridge University Tiddlywinks Club (CUTwC) challenged Prince Philip (later to become Chancellor of the University in 1976) to a tiddlywinks match to defend his honour. The Duke of Edinburgh appointed The Goons as his Royal champions. The Duke presented a trophy, the Silver Wink, for the British Universities Championship. During the 1960s as many as 37 universities were playing the game in Britain.

In 1962, the Oxford team toured the United States for several weeks under the sponsorship of Guinness. They were undefeated against teams from the New York Giants and various American colleges and newspapers. A very prominent article appeared in Life magazine in October 1962 with coverage of the Harvard team. In the next couple of years, Harvard and other colleges continued to play, though at a low ebb.

The North American Tiddlywinks Association (NATwA) was formed on February 27, 1966 with founders from both American (Harvard University and Harvard Medical School) and Canadian (University of Waterloo and Waterloo Lutheran University) teams.

In the meantime, in the Fall of 1965, Severin Drix started a team at Cornell, and challenged his friend Ferd Wulkan of MIT to start a tiddlywinks team. MIT and Cornell played in NATwA’s tiddlywinks tournaments starting in February 1967, and became dominant. The Harvard and Waterloo teams disappeared from the scene by 1968. The game took particularly strong root at MIT, and the early development of most American players can still be traced to MIT today.

While the basic elements of the adult game were devised by CUTwC in its early years, the rules have continued to be modified under the auspices of the various national tiddlywinks associations. ETwA coordinated the game throughout the boom period of the 1960s when winks flourished. A decline in interest within the UK in 1969-1970 led to the establishment of the three national competitions which have been contested to date, namely the National Singles, National Pairs, and the Teams of Four. There are also annual Open Competitions, notably in Oxford, Cambridge and London.

The first serious trans-Atlantic contact was established in 1972, when a team from MIT toured the UK. The success of the Americans shocked complacent Britons. Competition started at the highest level, the World Singles, in 1973. A challenge system was agreed between ETwA and NATwA. The supreme ruling body in world contests is the International Federation of Tiddlywinks Associations (IFTwA). To challenge at the world level, a player must win one of the national titles, or finish as the highest placed home player behind a foreign winner. There have been over 60 World Singles contests to date. The Americans dominated all the early matches, and it was not until the 22nd contest when a Briton won for the first time. Since then the top Britons and Americans have been closely matched. After the establishment of the World Singles, a World Pairs event followed, and there have now been over 35 World Pairs contests. International matches have been played since 1972.

During its history, winks has enjoyed variable levels of interest. The game has never taken a strong hold outside the UK and North America. The focus of British tiddlywinks is still at Cambridge, and CUTwC’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2005 were well attended. The Oxford University Tiddlywinks Society has recently fallen out of existence. Despite this there has recently been some resurgence in the game, with new clubs having been formed recently in the University of York and in Shrewsbury School. In America, there has been a tradition of tiddlywinks in Washington DC, Boston, Eastern Ohio, and Ithaca, and a renewal of winks through the MIT Tiddlywinks Association. National competitions are well attended, with a group of enthusiastic young players joining the stock of veteran players who have proved themselves at the highest level in world competition. In the USA, the game has a firm footing in certain high schools, since the children of many of the players who took up the game in the late 1960s and early 1970s are now of high school age. These players are now looking to revive university tiddlywinks in the USA.

On March 1, 2008, there was a Royal Match in Cambridge to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the original Royal Match played against The Goons in 1958 (see above). CUTwC players took on HRH Prince Philip’s Royal Champions, the Savage Club, with members of the original 1958 CUTwC team in attendance. Cambridge repeated their victory from 1958 by winning the match 24-18.

Pot Holder Maker Kit

Warbling Bird Whistle

Classic Potato Gun

Original Magic Rocks

Amazing Sea Monkeys Ocean Zoo

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Sea Monkeys were marketed in 1957 by Harold von Braunhut as Instant Life, though Braunhut changed the name to “Sea-Monkeys” on May 10, 1962. The name “Sea-Monkeys” was chosen because of their supposed playful monkey-like behaviour. Braunhut is also the inventor of X-Ray glasses. They were known for their exaggerated advertisements and packaging, which featured smiling anthropomorphic creatures which were strictly for marketing (originally drawn by Joe Orlando) and bore little resemblance to their true appearance. Sea Monkeys were bred for their larger size and longer lifespan than the original breed of brine shrimp. A patent granted in 1972 describes this as “hatching brine shrimp or similar crustaceans in tap water to give the appearance of instantaneous hatching.” As of 2008, Sea Monkeys are a division of Transcience.

Other companies have distributed pets along the Sea-Monkey model, including one by Wham-O, and “The Swarm”, a product from Dr. Jordan’s formulae. In the late 1970s to early 1980s, sachets of “Sea Monsters” were sold in 25-cent gumball machines at A&P supermarkets. When added to water, the packet’s contents provided the eggs, salt and nutrients to hatch the brine shrimp.

More recently, an Australian company, Little Aussie Products, has marketed “Itsy Bitsy Sea Dragons”, with a different brine shrimp species, Parartemia zietziana, and other tank creatures to coexist with the Sea-Monkeys.

Original Classic Magic 8 Ball

Sock Monkey Plush Toy

Ant Farm



Oh Nooooooo Mr. Bill!


Ouija Board Game

Original Silly Putty bounces, molds and stretches

If you smashed it onto a news paper you could also copy news paper prints with this too! The ink would be copies onto the putty (I did that all the time)

Die Cast Western Cap Gun

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Model Kits

1926 Ford Model T Roadster Pickup Cover

Drinking Happy Bird!

The drinking bird was invented by Miles V. Sullivan in 1945 and patented in 1946. He was a Ph.D. inventor-scientist at Bell labs in Murray Hill, NJ

A drinking bird consists of two glass bulbs joined by a glass tube (the bird’s neck). The tube extends nearly all the way into the bottom bulb, and attaches to the top bulb but does not extend into it. The space inside the bird contains a fluid, usually colored. The fluid is typically dichloromethane, also known as methylene chloride.

Air is removed from the apparatus during manufacture, so the space inside the body is filled by vapor evaporated from the fluid. The upper bulb has a “beak” attached which, along with the head, is covered in a felt-like material. The bird is typically decorated with paper eyes, a plastic top hat, and one or more tail feathers. The whole setup pivots on an adjustable crosspiece attached to the neck.

Despite the drinking bird’s appearance and classification as a toy, some safety considerations apply. Early models were often filled with highly flammable substances. The fluid in later versions is nonflammable. Dichloromethane can irritate the skin on contact, and the lungs if inhaled; it is a mutagen and teratogen, and potentially a carcinogen. The intact toy is leakproof and completely safe, but if broken hazardous dichloromethane is released. Dichloromethane evaporates quickly; good ventilation after a spill will dilute and disperse the vapor.

I am sure I did not mention all of the toys that were popular in your childhood, although if I did this post would be 100 pages long. I really like the way that most of the toys I had forced me to use my imagination. Kids today have no imagination due to the computer. Everything is prefabricated instead of them making up their own world. If you would like to buy some of these vintage / retro toys you can check out

I am and forever will be young at heart.

My Grandma and I. (My dad's mother) She was the one that worked as a Rosie the Riveter. She is one of the inspirations for me to continue to write this blog.

Thanks for reading,


Published in: on April 8, 2010 at 10:42 PM  Leave a Comment  
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