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What toys did you play with as a child?

(43 Posts)
Coffee4life Wed 02-May-18 14:05:14

Good afternoon everyone, I was hoping I could get some insight from some of you about what kind of toys you were given by your parents, or you gave to your children? Wether there were any toys you thought were inappropriate for children?

Also I would like to know what the attitude towards gender specific toys was like when you were growing up?

I am a student and I would really appreciate some comments, thank you!


Kittye Wed 02-May-18 22:24:57

Good grief!! Dolls houses, dolls prams,scooters,bikes etc.
You lucky lot! We got an annual at Christmas and maybe snakes and ladders or ludo game. Crayons and colouring books for birthdays. I did get a dolls house eventually..a 50th birthday present from my OH.

Chewbacca Wed 02-May-18 22:43:06

Child of the 50s here.... I too had the little post office set and I remember that I played with that a lot. Also a little miniature sweet shop that had tiny little jars of sweets--very quickly emptied--, a little till and some plastic toy money. My sister and I were bought a toy ironing board, a toy Hoover cleaner and a toy washing machine for washing dolls clothes in that we had to share. There was a handle at the back of the washing machine to turn to agitate the clothes and water. I only had 1 doll and she had a rubber body but a pot head that promptly collapsed when I washed her blonde hair! I remember that she was taken to the dolls hospital to be mended but when she came back she had brown hair and brown eyes and I didn't like her any more.

Coffee4life Wed 02-May-18 23:42:12

Thank you all ever so much for your fascinating stories, i’ve really enjoyed reading your responses, they have all been really interesting. Plenty for me to be inspired by! Thanks again, Ben.

Eloethan Wed 02-May-18 23:46:45

I can't remember playing with toys much, although I suppose I must have done.

I had several pets which I spent a lot of time looking after.

I did a lot of drawing, painting and reading.

I remember I liked Mr Potato Head, plasticine, hula hoop, yo ho etc. No bike but a biggish wooden scooter.

NanaNancy Thu 03-May-18 04:19:42

In my family toys were very gender specific, and I have always been sad when I have no ability to catch a ball and other "sporty" things as I was told to go an play with my dolls while Dad played ball with my brother.
I had a very special baby doll from a very young age, who I named David but insisted was a girl (likely as I had a cousin baby David around the same time). She was well loved, patched by Granny and loved some more. I still have her probably because I did not allow my girls to play with her.
My girls played playmobile endlessly. Loved all the little people and sets. Some of the little people lost limbs over time and our corner toy shop owner offered to take them and replace them with new ones, but my youngest refused saying they were "handicapped" and part of her family.

TwiceAsNice Thu 03-May-18 09:29:39

I had a silver cross pram and 2 dolls bought for me by my Nana when my brother was born. She knitted the dolls clothes to dress them and made bedding and quilt for the pram. She and my grandfather had a bit more money than my parents and I was an only grandchild for 7 years so was spoilt by them. My dad was good with his hands and made me a dolls house and dolls cot with the side going up and down like a real cot it was bright pink and I loved it. He had a huge love of books and an early memory is sitting in a big armchair and him putting a huge beautifully illustrated book of stories and poems into my newly washed hands. You weren't allowed to touch a book until you washed your hands my father would go mad if you turned down a page or crushed a spine but he was the most easy going man ever over everything else. I learnt to skip, play hopscotch, and two balls against the wall and loved to play marbles and jackstones in the street, and paper dolls which you bought as books and cut out and dressed. I was a child in the 50's and a teenager in the 60's.

My children at various times in the 70's and 80's loved Lego, brio train set, playmobil) which is loved at the moment by 9year old grandchildren so fashions ..come round again and Lego has never gone out of favour) , sylvanian families,fuzzy felts, paints, jigsaws, (3 D ones at one point) Ludo/snakes and ladders which I also had. We all loved books and read from an early age and still read extensively now.

annodomini Thu 03-May-18 09:39:59

In wartime, toys were mainly handmade, second-hand or hand-me-downs from older relatives. Dolls came from cousins and a dolls' cot was 'acquired' but used as a bus when one of the boys we knew came round to play. But my very best possession was a big black tricycle. My parents kept their ears to the ground and when they heard it was available, they went at once to buy it. I loved it and rode it up and down the road which, in those days of petrol rationing, was virtually traffic-free.

mostlyharmless Thu 03-May-18 09:50:59

I had a dolls’ house which I hardly ever played with, but my sister and I played for hours with the paper dolls from Bunty magazine as others have said. I read a lot too. We also often played outside with skipping ropes, balls, cricket and tennis bats. Swimming took over - every day at the Lido the idyllic summer that I was twelve.
My brother was born thirteen years after me and he had Lego, Lego and more Lego.

gardenoma Fri 25-May-18 19:09:39

We mostly learned to ride a bike at about 4 on our mothers bikes with her pushing and us standing on the pedals, then when you were sort of confident, quite a feat on those big things! you graduated to your own bike with wooden blocks on the pedals which cld be removed once you'd grown a bit. But I do remember having a very heavy wooden scooter with a metal seat which felt like cast iron, we had no hills or any gradients in holland so never went unstoppably fast, much to my annoyance I remember and of course the heavy metal tricycle before that.
Sledging in winter and ice skating on the lakes and the canals with 3 jumpers on and a layer of newspapers under to stop the wind getting through. My grandfather taught me to skate on the canal behind their house in Amsterdam with me pushing an old kitchen chair, they found me a pair of my father's old skates, the wooden ones with the curly thing at the front which you tied on over your shoes. Unfortunately they were so old that they fell apart quite soon and I got a new pair for Sinterklaas (christmas) which were virtually identical minus the curly bit at the front, technology eh.. I must have been about 3 then.
The usual spinning tops, skipping ropes, games of marbles which we had to hide from the nuns as they saw it as gambling.
As many books as I cld lay my sticky hands on, I virtually lived in our library.
I remember getting a miniature cooker which actually worked with tealights, my mum used to make batter for us and my friend and I cooked pancakes and fried eggs, or bits of them! in the mini frying pans,
Loved climbing trees and having secret dens up there where I went to read my book as nobody could ever get up there.
Great thread brings back so many memories.

rockgran Fri 25-May-18 20:13:21

As a child in the 50s I wasn't mad about dolls or girly things (preferred cowboys!) but my dad made me a doll's house out of a big drawer and furnished it. It was lovely. He was always making things. I also had lots of craft type toys, plasticene, chalkboard, crayons, paints, plaster modelling, printing set, tiny sewing machine. I love crafts now and am glad I was always encouraged to create things. I also remember lots of outdoor toys - scooter, bike, etc. but loved making go-carts and dens. Also I was forever digging holes! I suppose the toy cigarettes we had were inappropriate but didn't seem so then.

Belgravian Fri 25-May-18 20:35:07

Born in 1966. Every child my age road a bicycle as soon as they were able. In the 1970s we went out on our bikes and could leave them outside shops or put them down over the park to go gallivanting and build a den or look for newts in a pond etc without any fear the bicycle would be stolen! Bicycle helmets and locks didn't exist in those days!

The girls had normal bikes but some of the boys rode Choppers when they came out. I never saw a girl ride one.

We also had Space Hoppers and pogo sticks although my father wouldn't let me have a pogo stick!

During school breaks we played Jacks and Elastics and did French skipping with a friend.

We also did handstands anywhere there was grass! Knives, Forks and cut it! - That was the chant before you did the handstand.

A funny story from when I was little - my mother told me not to do handstands when wearing a dress as the boys could see my knickers! Instead of changing into shorts or trousers as she obviously intended for me to do, innocent me came home still wearing a dress and told her that it was ok as I'd taken my knickers off! grin

Indoors we loved books, annuals were very popular and my favourite were my Rupert the Bear ones.

Spirograph was hugely popular.

Girls had dolls and boys had guns.

In the early 1970s there was a short craze for Klackers/Clackers which were swiftly banned for being dangerous. Mother spotted the danger immediately and I wasn't allowed them!

The best thing as a child that we had was our freedom and we were all independent from a very young age.

My friend Alison and I at the age of six could walk on our own into town a distance of a couple of miles and to the train station, buy our ticket and travel by train in the old slam door compartment and travel several stops before getting off in Southend on Sea and mooching around the shops and buying a bag of chips! Then we got the train home and walked back home. This was perfectly normal back then. There would be a massive manhunt if two six year olds even attempted to do this nowadays!

I miss the old days!

Belgravian Fri 25-May-18 20:35:27


stella1949 Sat 26-May-18 02:22:27

I was born in 1949. I had one large doll ( which I still got !) , Rosebud brand, she said "Mama" when I bent her over. My mother made various outfits for her, and at one stage I got a beautiful miniature Silver Cross pram for her. Many birthday gifts consisted of a new outfit for her, or a pram rug etc.

I also had a lot of books, and a lovely fountain pen that my Dad bought for me once.

I never much thought about whether toys were "gender-specific" when I was a child, though I suppose they were. I didn't have brothers but I know that boys of my generation played with toy guns, or sticks which they pretended were guns.

I don't think it was wrong that we had gender-specific toys, since we were simply playing with things which interested us.

We spent a lot of time outside, playing with whatever was around, climbing and digging in the mud ( we lived near a lake) , investigating bombed houses ( there were still plenty of them since we got bombed a lot in WW2.) Gender was irrelevant when we were all out playing.

By the time I had my children it was the 1970's and I was fairly affluent. I bought them things that they liked - some were certainly gender-specific ! Cabbage Patch dolls , Barbies, girly dress-ups for my daughter. Army dress-ups, guns, books and puzzles for my son. I don't think I forced gender roles onto them, they just got what they wanted. Neither of them seems to have been badly affected by those toys - my son didn't become aggressive and my daughter is a very well-balanced person .

I'm not convinced that gender-specific toys have any affect of children at all - they play with whatever they like and if they enjoy their childhood, good for them.

Bathsheba Sat 26-May-18 18:09:03

An interesting experiment regarding gender-specific toys:

Grandma70s Sat 26-May-18 19:41:07


Your post implies that books and puzzles are for boys! Surely you don't mean they aren’t for girls?

I was born towards the start of the war, and my brother and I didn't have many toys, but we certainly both had books and puzzles. Otherwise I suppose our toys were fairly gender specific. I was given dolls, a doll’s house, a dolls’s pram and cot. In fact I was not very interested in them. I much preferred soft toys, some made by my mother, books and real kittens.

My brother had transport-related toys like cars and trains, but any guns were water pistols and I think he had a cap gun. There wasn’t anything that looked really warlike. After all, my parents had lived through the first world war as children and were now in the middle of another one. The last things anyone wanted were weapon-related toys.

My sons were born in the first half of the 70s, and I suppose their toys were much like my brothers. No guns or military stuff, lots of cars and trains. They did not pretend sticks were guns. They just weren't interested in fighting. Because I had no daughters, I also made sure the boys had a toy house (not a doll’s house) and they did have a soft toy boy doll as well as the usual teddies.

Serkeen Mon 04-Jun-18 14:52:47

lovely question smile for me it was Katie kopykat and walking talking doll for my brother it was johnny 7

M0nica Mon 04-Jun-18 17:03:59

I was born during the war and had few toys, what we had were generally gender specific, but from quite a young age, my present list consisted of one item - books, information books, not stories -, my parents also bought a mix of comics, Dandy and Beano, as well as Girl - and my favourite, The Children's Newspaper, that I read avidly

We were a family of three girls and I agree with Stella that gender specific toys on their own do not condition children. There was little or no gender conditioning in my family. My parents were keen on us getting educated, going to university, having careers, not just jobs. One of my sisters enjoyed taking things like clocks apart and trying to put them together again and no-one discouraged her. I studied economics at university when that was almost exclusively a male subject

My own children had toys for their interests. DD loved dolls - and trains so she had lots of dolls and was the one with the electric train set. DS never showed any interest in construction equipment, so apart from Lego, which was a shared resource, and mainly played with by DD, didn't have any. Like me, from a young age all he wanted was books. In his case, on history and archaeology, so that is what he got.