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!