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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!


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.

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

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.

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

An interesting experiment regarding gender-specific toys:

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.

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


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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Beau Wed 02-May-18 20:58:16

Child in the sixties - very gender specific - I had 19 dolls and not enough proper beds for all of them - this caused me stress every night as I had to get them all undressed and ready for bed! I also had too many children in the dolls house my Dad made - so I pretended it was an orphanage. Lots of cardboard dolls as well with paper clothes to hook over their shoulders, later Sindy and collecting her trendy clothes when I was aged 10 or so. I had a huge old tricycle bought second hand from Petticoat Lane market and a brand new Silver Cross twin pram, the envy of all my friends. Never allowed a bike though - not ladylike. Read a lot, I think the books must have mainly been second hand as I remember not many of them looking very new, although some were bought new by my Nan, like the set of Noddy
books I loved. I had a golliwog I loved but only one teddy, which I gave to my brother the day he was born - he still has it. The thing I loved most was being the teacher to my dolls and my little sister - I was quite bossy but my sister does admit I taught her to read a bit before she started school.
I loved drawing and stationery, playing 'offices' which seemed glamorous as my dad was a policeman and had no stationery for me to play with.
My daughter was a child in the eighties and she never liked dolls as much as I had, although by that time they were drinking bottles and wetting themselves etc. She had an iron and ironing board, a dolls pram but also a garage with cars. Then My Little Pony came along and the house was full of plastic horses plus their castle and other accoutrements supplied by her paternal grandparents. Nothing was considered inappropriate although I doubt the metal cannons that fired real matches which my brother played with in the sixties were still allowed in the eighties! My daughter also had a chemistry set and various other items which would not have been available in the sixties, like the early computer games on cassette etc. Also dozens of books as that was one thing I would never stint on, despite being a single mum. The main thing I would say is that there were a lot more toys for my daughter than were available to me or my siblings. And now I have a grandson who is not even 18 months old but probably has more toys and books than either of us ever had....

Bathsheba Wed 02-May-18 19:05:26

I don't think the OP is 'thinking of purchasing something for a youngster' Panache - he has said in his opening post that he's a student, so I imagine he is asking us for our memories of toys we had, and those we bought for our DC, to help him with his research.

midgey Wed 02-May-18 18:25:00

My brother and I played Cowboys and Indians a great deal, I remember I had a Roy Rogers cap gun! Living on a farm in the summer we spent a lot of time playing ‘little house’, moving dolls cot and pretend furniture from one empty building to another.

Willow500 Wed 02-May-18 18:21:35

As an only child I had quite a lot of toys although nowhere near as many as my own sons and grandchildren. My dad made me a dolls house only it was a bungalow which the roof lifted off - I spent a lot of time playing with that and arranging the furniture which he would take me to buy from the local toyshop. I also had two small dolls which you could buy clothes for - this was before Sindy or Barbie. My dad made me a tiny wardrobe and chest of drawers for the clothes and painted them pink. I still had the drawers many years later when I married and used to put all the bill money in them each week. I also had a Rosebud doll and a Silver Cross pram. I too loved reading and had a lot of books including the Famous Five books. A lot of the time my friends and I made houses out of the clothes horse (a very early form of a clothes airer), sheets or curtains or draped them over chair backs.

Outdoors I had roller skates which had rubber stopper brakes on the front and a two wheeler bike which had stabiliser wheels on the back until I could ride without them.

My son's grew up in the early 70's and had the usual Action Men, 6 million dollar man dolls, and the eldest had a lot of Matchbox cars. He progressed to computers in the early 80's with a Sinclair Z80 which he learned to program with his dad then onto a Commodore 64 - the hours sitting upstairs 'playing' on them have stood him in good stead as he has always been the go to person for IT in his work life. The youngest was the army mad one and as soon as he was old enough didn't play with toys but spent hours with army memorabilia which he spent all his pocket money on at the local market. Fully expected by everyone to go into the Army Cadets he suddenly changed tack at 13 when his brother bought a set of drums for £10 and he took up music which he has made a career of.

Panache Wed 02-May-18 18:03:15

Again remembering it was war time and the years just after,plus foster parents whom were elderly and suffered health issues, so money was tight, meaning toys as such were very thin on the ground.
The one item that sticks out in my memory and holds a very special space in my heart to this day is this Teddy Bear, all some 3' tall ........that had been "rescued" from the skip of what was locally known as The Big House in those days.
It was in good state of repair and it was well loved, developing a very soggy black nose from all my kisses!!
Christmas meant some fruit and always a book, as I was such an avid reader . Then there were all manner of small items which fed my love of writing at an early age.
I loved the Rupert Bear books,and Little Women was read through so many times it fell apart!
Whilst at some stage I was given a rather lovely baby doll,though very feminine and pretty, it was the old Teddy that stole my heart!

During school years my friend and I spent hours .......sometimes conversing to one another in our chosen language .....French....not allowing either of us to supplement the chat with anything english .....or welsh,our mother tongue.The other half we loved playing make believe house.This house we created was in the base of a very old oak tree on our front garden hedge.We would tour the area for all oddments such as broken pieces of china,old lamps,oddments of anything that we could turn
into a make believe home.It gave us endless pleasure,cost nothing but played on our imagination.Perhaps this is what has fuelled my love of home decor and comforts!

In later years I did have a bicycle and living in the countryside where my friends lived miles away,this became much loved and a great form of escapism to me.

I look on in absolute awe and wonder at the bedroom stash some children have today,......and often that stash spreads out to every room in the home..... and I have to wonder if it gives them any more pleasure than my teddy for instance.
I have witnessed several instances where these children go on very quickly to abandon said lovely toy, but have great pleasure in turning the box it came in into something that was more useful to them.
With such a vast array on offer today personally I think it wise to buy those things that teach a young child,and broadens the mind..........far more useful than the load of tat that sells under the name of a toy.

But each to their own of course, and if you are thinking of purchasing something for a youngster Coffeeforlife, I would certainly think long and hard about it .......taking the child`s age into account of course.......but buying something that could teach and benefit them in years to come is surely the best way can also add something more trivial alongside,but my guess is the one item that teaches will enthral the child.......and you may then find you have helped in a small way to create a genius!!

Maggiemaybe Wed 02-May-18 17:59:50

I'd forgotten about Airfix kits. My dad and I would get one from Woolworths on our usual Saturday jaunts to town. They were usually ships or planes, but I remember my favourites being Henry VIII and at least one of his six wives.

Bathsheba Wed 02-May-18 17:35:47

I remember so many outdoor toys: a triang scooter, roller skates, balls, skipping ropes, a kite, a hula hoop, bicycle. We did play outdoors a lot when I was growing up, and when we weren't playing with any of those things, we were building dens, climbing trees, making rope swings, fishing for tiddlers, frogspawn and newts. I was a bit of a tomboy!
Indoor play was things like cut-out 'dressing up' dolls, which I absolutely loved - I cut out and saved all the little paper dolls and outfits from the back of my Bunty comic each week! I remember a post office set, a glitter painting set, a stencil set, recorder, playing cards, dolls. I had a baby doll that a friend of my mother gave me together with a bag of fabric offcuts and I would spend hours sewing dolls clothes. I also remember a little farmyard set that I had, which had green (grass) bases and little drystone walls that fixed together, and fences, lots of animals, a tractor, and the farm buildings and farmer and wife.
There were also my brother's toys, things like meccano and bayko building sets, which I would play with too (though I don't recall that he was particularly interested in playing with my dolls wink)
We didn't own a lot of books, except for those that were bought for us at Christmas and birthdays, but I was an avid reader and visited the library weekly.

callgirl1 Wed 02-May-18 17:29:54

My favourite occupation as a child (and now) was reading, but I liked dolls, particularly the cardboard ones that had stacks of paper clothes, I`d spend hours dressing and undressing them. I also loved the "seasons", whip and top season, skipping season, marbles season, etc. We drew lovely patterns in chalk on our wooden tops, and I always replaced the leather thong on the whip with string, it worked better than the leather.
There was a large celluloid baby doll that I think must have belonged to my mother as a child. We weren`t allowed to play with it, just handle it once every blue moon.
I had one of those little red and yellow trikes with a blue set, then progressed to a large 3 wheeler, but was never allowed a 2 wheeled bike "because they`re dangerous", and to this day (I`m nearly 75) I still can`t ride a bike.