Toys of the 50s and 60s

From Wi-Fi-enabled video games to sophisticated play sets and lifelike dolls, the toys of today are a far cry from the simple toys and games from the 50s and 60s.

In the early 1950s as families began to have more disposable income and import restrictions were gradually lifted, the demand for toys grew – and as plastics began to be used, toys were cheap and fast to make and in turn more affordable to buy.

Games and toys like Scrabble and Lego  were brought to market in the early 1950s and still enjoy enormous popularity today – proving sometimes new isn’t always best.

Today we’re taking a nostalgic look back at some of the most popular toys of the 50s and 60s – do you recognise any from your childhood?

Muffin the Mule

Muffin the Mule made its debut in the UK in 1946, and enjoyed huge popularity after being featured on television by Annette Mills and later on the children’s programme, Watch with Mother. It’s one of the earliest examples of television creating demand for a toy or product; children around the country bought Muffin toys and novelties for more than a decade.



Scrabble was first invented in the United States by Alfred Butts during the Great Depression of the 1930s. It wasn’t until 1948 that the game took the name and format we know today. JW Spears and Sons released the game in Britain in 1953, and has been enjoyed by families around the country ever since.


Model vehicles were top selling toys in the 1950s. The cars were small, portable, inexpensive and collectable; children from all different backgrounds could play with them and trade them with friends. In 1957, Scalextric caused a sensation when it debuted cars that ran on grooves, picking up an electric current from the groove that would send them racing around the track.

Sindy and Action Man


Small dolls for boys and girls also enjoyed huge popularity in the 50s and 60s, and among the most famous were Sindy – the British alternative to Barbie – and Action Man. Sindy was known as the ‘the doll you love to dress’ and had plenty of costumes, accessories and friends to play with too.


In the 1960s there was a much greater emphasis on well-designed and well-made toys. Psychologists began to believe that toys could be used as educational tools as well as games. The Spirograph is a great example of this; the educational drawing toy aimed to encourage creativity in children and allowed them to create intricate patterns by alternating between small and large pieces.



Space exploration dominated the cultural lexicon in the 1960s, and this is even reflected in the toys children played with. When Thunderbirds launched in 1966, children around the country played with puppets, Thunderbird model planes, water pistols, and toy action figures.

What were your favourite childhood toys? Let us know in the comments below!

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1st Oct 2016
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My father was a joiner and he made a few of our toys at Christmas , my two sisters a blue and pink dolls cot which were so like the real thing , he made me a lovely wooden desk as i loved to draw and read , my brother got a fort for his soldiers so much better than the plastic ones ! we had them for years . He even made toys for a neighbours child.I had a Tressie doll when you pushed her belly button her hair grew and then used a key to turn and make it shorter again ! i also loved my spirograph and making lovely patterns .
26th Jun 2016
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i don.t know if anyone remembers a doll called katy copycat she could hold a pen or pencil in her hand and copy what you wrote or drew .i had one as a child plus choosey susie katy had problems working and we sent her to the dolls hospital which excisted then as it came with the doll there address but we never got my doll back is this just a false memory or were they real dolls
19th Aug 2016
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Hi kitty161 and no, you are not dreaming katy copycat as that was one of the dolls my daughters had growing up ..... just one of the many dolls that were around in those days, another of the same time being tippy tumbles.
28th May 2016
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I had a Sindy and a Tressie doll. I also had a teenage doll which was about 12 inches tall. I remember there were some quite good accessories with Sindy and Tressie, there was a PVC mac and hat, which were the height of fashion in the 60s, it came with a string bag which had tiny oranges in it and, I seem to recall, a small white dog on a lead.

My brothers each had a remote controlled fire engine and police car. Remote meaning it was operated by controls which were joined by a wires to the vehicles so they had to follow their toy car around the floor. It was fantastically advanced back then.

I preferred reading to playing with toys though, I loved Enid Blyton (Famous Five and Secret Seven) and Frank Richards (Billy Bunter) and Richmal Crompton (Just William).

I remember getting six pillow cases full of toys for Christmas. My brothers would sit on my bed, one would hand me a present which I would open and the other would put the wrapping paper into an empty pillow case. Christmas day was always very cold but I remember it was always magical. We had paper decorations across the living room ceiling and an artificial Christmas tree with delicate ornaments on it. I remember there were birds which were on clips so that they sat on the branches. The baubles were so delicate that they'd shatter into a million sharp pieces if you dropped them.

I had a beautiful dolls' house, which came from a local antique shop. The roof came off to reveal the upstairs and the back opened to the whole of the back of the house. It came completely furnished with a family and foliage for the garden. I loved it but never played with it because it had spiders in it and I was terrified of spiders. My brother sprayed the roof silver with a can of spray paint - he was at that experimental age. Eventually my father threw the dolls' house away. I should imagine it might have been valuable had I kept it.

I have nothing left from my childhood except my memories.
24th Mar 2016
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I was the proud owner of a Dan Dare Space Gun )I was a tomboy) that would light bup and emit sparks when the trigger was pressedWe spend half a lifetime searching for the ‘right’ hairdresser, often experiencing many disasters along the way. So, when we find someone that seems to understand our wants and needs, we feel truly happy.
All trades, crafts and professions are capable of making mistakes, even the surgeon who amputates the WRONG leg will in time and after exhaustive ‘investigations’ and professional censure be allowed to return to practice.
Not so the hairdresser who sends you out of the salon looking like a refugee survivor of an encounter with a strimmer. So, what do we do when a haircut goes wrong, do we complain to the salon, do we consult Trading Standards, or do we simply wear a hat for 3 months?
No, we go home and make a clay effigy of the guilty ‘stylist’ and stick pins in it!
We forget all the good cuts and fire those good memories down the torpedo tube of tonsorial history, and go looking for a new hairdresser.
19th Mar 2016
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My own daughter's also had large Sindy collections which , when we emigrated to the USA had to be hand carried onto the plane in their own Sindy cases quite unaware that America had their own Barbi dolls. They soon found Sindy and Barbi clothes and accessories were interchangeable. The girls also liked their full size Paddington Bears, my youngest loved wearing Paddington's Wellies. These bears also had to be hand carried onto the plane. Nowadays we would probably have to buy them their own seats as one was bigger than my youngest who had to have her own seat. I say they had to be carried on because my wife ended up carrying them off, along with her own hand luggage and youngest daughter. I was already loaded down'
19th Mar 2016
Thanks for voting!
Couldn't afford many playable toys, although my parents would argue, so I had to make my own. As I have mentioned before a length of 2x2 wood with 2 nails in it was a rifle. Bikes built from junk parts, puddles to jump in by mother nature. My favorite with, as they call it nowadays, play value was my lego bricks of which a bucket was passed down and added too for my own daughters who played for hours with it and that in turn, grown to a small dustbin full, was passed to my grandchildren. It was kept here so they or any other nieces or nephews who visited would have something to play with. I have no doubt they will again be passed on to great grandchildren after I in my retirement have finished my 2nd childhood playing with them. It's strange to think that in that dustbin full of bricks are some that are over 50 years old.

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