Last week I was in my local Tesco. Usually I’m straight in and straight out again hurrying around getting food and other bits but this time I had a bit longer to wander about. I had a look at the books, magazines and at the stationery. Now I’m a bit of a stationery freak and I love buying pretty notebooks and snazzy pens. I’ll never get through using them all. Then I ended up looking at the toys. I don’t know why I was drawn to the toys, my two children are grown up and their toy stage is long gone. I had been thinking about a present to buy for my baby niece’s first birthday and came away with a little something that I’m saving for when I go over to visit her in Canada in September.
Looking at the array of toys around nowadays made me all nostalgic to my own children’s toys and also back to mine. My children were lucky in that when we first moved into our house our dining room was their playroom. We had a table in the kitchen to eat at but our dining room table ended up being used as the base for a Barbie house for a while. It was handy when friends came round because we could sit round the table with our cups of tea whilst the kids played. They could paint or play with playdough as the floor was a wooden one. Although it ended up being a right mess when my daughter’s Hama beads spilt over the floor and some of them went through the cracks between the floorboards. My daughter wasn’t really into dolls even though she had Barbies and a Baby Annabel. She even ended up with a pregnant Barbie with a fake bump and tiny new born baby. It made me laugh at how once Barbie had given birth her stomach was flat and her boobs were the same size!
But my daughter’s favourite toy was definitely a wooden stable with toy horses, though and played with that for ages. That love of horses has stayed with her into adulthood. My son was obsessed with Thomas The Tank Engine and loved Bob the Builder and his Lego. He had all the Bob the Builder machines and used to push them around on the floor. He used to build his train track on the floor and make all the engines crash with one another. The big obsession was the Lego, though. It started when he was 4 when he got a pirate ship for Christmas. He still has his Lego but it’s all up in the loft. I can’t bear him to part with it even though I used to curse if I stepped on a Lego brick in bare feet- ouch!
Barbie wasn’t really as popular then, when I was little. I loved my Sindy dolls. The first time I saw a Sindy doll was when I was about 4 going to visit Santa in the Co-op store on Parliament Street in Nottingham. We walked through the toy department and I saw this beautiful Sindy house on display with everything in it, even down to a swimming pool on the roof. It was all I could think of. I think my mum thought I was too young for Sindy then but on my 6th birthday I remember getting a Sindy with blonde hair and a red dress. I didn’t end up with a Sindy house but I had a few things like her bedroom furniture which was white with turquoise bed covers.
My mum’s cousin who was only a few years older than me passed down a few bits like an orange bath (you can tell it was the 1970s!) Both my nanas used to make me clothes for my Sindy dolls. Before Sindy I had had a Tiny Tears doll and a pram to go with it which I used to push up and down my road and down to the shops. Though one horrible boy who lived down our road decided to play a trick on me and put some dog poo inside my doll’s pram when he saw it outside in our front garden! Apart from dolls I used to love Lego (I still do, and keep meaning to buy myself one of those really big sets to make up!) and remember my parents getting us a Lego set which created a whole village. It was free with some Weetabix tokens, I think. It took a while to build but it was fantastic when it was finished.
My brother also loved his Lego and he had Action Man but the toys I remember him having the most was a Hornby Railway model railway set which was up in the loft. He had an Intercity 125 and a Flying Scotsman on his track layout. My dad had boarded out the loft so my brother could have his Scalextric set up there, too. He had two Mini Coopers which were red and yellow. I was rubbish at Scalextric and my car used to fall off the track all the time. Later on, my brother got into Subbuteo and he had it laid out on a large board in his bedroom. When he was about 9 I recall buying him the Subbuteo team figures for Nottingham Forest, his favourite team at the time.
Looking back, it is great to see that some toys are the same as what we have but now of course there are more electronic devices. Kids end up playing on ipads as well these days but lots stay the same. Kids still love their bikes, just as me and my younger brother did as well as my own two children. Some favourite TV characters are still around, such as Thomas The Tank Engine but new ones have come along. Through teaching in nurseries I have been introduced to the delights of Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol!
What were your favourite childhood toys?