30 Vintage Toys to Share with Your KidsRachel Jonat and Amy Soukup
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Whether you were whipping up tiny treats in an Easy Bake Oven or cuddling a Care Bear, we all have that one toy that stands out in our childhood memories. We’re ready to take a trip down memory lane, rounding up all of our favorite throwback toys. Even better than reliving the past? Purchasing things from it to share with your own kids!
1. Fisher Price Chatter Phone
Real rotary dial phones are now obsolete, but you can still purchase this pull-toy, which went on the market in the 1960s. Use it to show your child how Grandma and Grandpa (or, ahem, even you) made phone calls.
2. Easy Bake Oven
Yes, your kids can still cook with a light bulb, just like you did in the ’80s. There are new cake mixes and the colors of the oven have changed, but the rest is surprisingly the same. Adult supervision needed — along with a healthy dose of faux enthusiasm for the finished product.
A few blockbuster movies have revived this franchise, and now your kids can root for the Autobots to beat the Decepticons … in 3D. Just as you whispered to the family station wagon, your children will whisper to the family minivan, hoping it will transform into an alien robot.
4. Snoopy Sno Cone Machine
For over 30 years children have enjoyed making fluffy frozen treats with the Snoopy Sno Cone machine. Or, more accurately, children have enjoyed asking their parents to finish churning ice cubes into choppy snow cones. Warning: This machine requires more muscle than anyone under ten could give.
5. Tupperware Shape-O Toy
A well-remembered shape-sorter for any child of the ’70s, ’80s, or even today. The best and only change to this toy since your childhood is that it’s now easily available online and in stores. No need to sit through a Tupperware party ever again.
6. Care Bears
The cartoon and stuffed-animal dynasty of the 1980s made a comeback in 2005 with a digitally animated movie and, of course, more toys. Your children can now pretend they are in the land of Care-a-Lot with Grumpy Bear and Share Bear. Show them your best “Care Bear Stare” to boost the household “Caring Meter”!
7. My Little Pony
Did you have a “Flutter Pony” with soft shiny wings or a “Twinkle Eyed Pony” with rhinestones for eyes back in the day? My Little Pony continues to delight girls all over the world and fill many imaginary stables. Except today’s ponies get to zip around in radio-controlled cars and ride ice cream cone-themed Ferris Wheels. A pretty good life for a horse, we’d say.
8. Lincoln Logs
Since 1918 children have been building homes from these miniature interlocking wood beams. Today’s models include sets for building not just mere cabins, but ranches — horses included. Now get junior movin’ and ask for that 5 bed, 3.5 bath you’ve always wanted.
9. Mr. Potato Head
Reincarnated many times over since his debut in 1949, Mr. Potato Head has been miniaturized, cartoon-ized, and stuffed. Have a giggle with your four-year-old as you put his parts away into the allotted storage compartment: his bum.
10. Cabbage Patch Dolls
Each Cabbage Patch Doll came with a unique name and birth certificate from Babyland General Hospital. These hugely popular play pals had parents lining up overnight to buy them as Christmas gifts. Think Elmo-type frenzy. And the kids from the patch are still going strong, with new accessories like Carvel ice cream cones to eat and ponies to ride.
11. Smurf Figurines
Smurf figurines have been hot collectors’ items since first produced in 1959. Over the years these little blue people have been dressed up in Halloween costumes and decked out in police uniforms. The latest figurines are based on the recent Smurf movie (you know, the one with Katy Perry in it) and have fun corresponding play sets like “Escape from New York,” complete with a mini Chrysler building.
Talk about enduring technology: the View-Master mechanism and slide technology is virtually unchanged since being developed almost 100 years ago. While you may have clicked through reels of E.T. or the original Battle Star Galactica, your children can now enjoy reels of Finding Nemo or Dora the Explorer. Unlike your portable DVD player, this thing will never run out of batteries or need a charge.
13. Strawberry Shortcake Dolls
You know what they say: A girl’s hair needs to smell like the dessert she was named after. Oh wait, that was just for the Strawberry Shortcake dolls. Today’s dolls still have the same aromas and sweet monikers but are unfortunately proportioned to oddly with huge heads and tiny little bodies. Luckily, you can purchase the anniversary edition for your little one — it’s just like the original!
14. Polly Pockets
Is that a compact mirror? No, it’s the home of a mini doll with her comfy chair and a book. The Polly Pockets of the ’80s and ’90s were tucked away into carry cases that looked like compacts or snap-open purses. The newer dolls are larger than the originals — and thus less likely to get sucked up by the vacuum.
15. Magna Doodle
This drawing tool was endless enjoyment for young minds in the ’80s. It was a marvel that you could draw with a magnet … and then easily erase the board and start again. Even in the face of the more advanced iPad, these tablets are still winning fans today. Except now they come with accessories like reading lights so kids can doodle in the dark. Now say “doodle in the dark” five times fast.
16. Fisher Price Little People Play Sets
The Little People were pretty boring, but their homes and work places rocked. The castle had a winding drawbridge, the garage had a working elevator, and the barn had its own grain silo. Today’s sets still hold the same charm as their 1980s counterparts, with some big additions like a two-foot high wheelies ramp way for the Little Speed Demons.
17. Lite Brite
This classic toy was ideal for budding designers and artists to sketch out ideas in colored light pegs. Your kids can express themselves just like you did with the latest flat-screen (of course) Lite Brite. One thing hasn’t changed: the pegs still really hurt if you step on them.
18. Etch A Sketch
Now that we’ve entered the age of iPads, it’s kind of hard not to be amused by this 1950s toy calling itself “magic.” Still, it’s pretty amazing the artwork that can be created using just a couple of dials and a bunch of gray lines!
19. Magic 8 Ball
Originally called the “Syco-Seer” in the late 1940s, this device changed to the Magic 8 Ball form we all know and love in the early 50s. It has been sharing its wisdom ever since by answering kids’ most burning questions with replies like “all signs point to yes” and “ask again later.”
20. See ‘N Say
Toy makers released this educational toy in the mid 1960s that allowed kids to point an arrow to the sound they wanted to hear when they pulling a string or lever. You might be familiar with their greatest hit — farm noises!
21. Pogo Ball
This thing became the frustration of uncoordinated ’80s kids everywhere, unless you were one of the few who happened to be blessed with pogo ball skills (like the video of kids who could bounce it down a flight of stairs — wha?).
Another ’80s toy that required a certain amount of foot-eye coordination, this apparatus was meant to be spun around the ankle as many times as possible without tripping. It also came with an electronic recorder to prove your skip-it greatness to the neighborhood kids.
23. Glo Worm
Who would have thought that a glowing insect would be the inspiration for this pajama-clad, plush toy? First released in 1982, the Glo Worm was a stuffed toy and nightlight in one — lighting up and playing a soothing lullaby whenever squeezed.
24. Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots
The “Red Rocker” and “Blue Bomber” have been dueling for decades, but nothing beats the nostalgia of this original 1960s version.
Nothing says fun like a creepy mechanical clown figure jumping out at you without warning! This is a really vintage toy, since its origins can be traced back as far as the middle ages. It’s pretty much a rite of passage to be scared by this thing at least once in your childhood.
Another toy that has survived the ages, the yo-yo dates back to 500 BC when it was made from discs of fired clay, but the modern version first came to the U.S. in 1866. Despite 3-D video games and HD movies, kids today are still “walking the dog” and going “round the world.”
27. Jacob’s Ladder
First created in the late 1800s, this simple toy of wooden blocks held together with strings or ribbons was an optical illusion that could enthrall us for hours as young kids. Ah, the good old days…
28. Paddle Ball
Okay, let’s face it: This classic toy dating back to colonial America has probably been used one too many times to try and hit someone else in the face, but at least it’s nearly impossible for kids to lose the ball!
These little guys first became popular in the 1960s but made several comebacks over the next few decades. Their faces are a little creepy, and they’re often sans clothes, but we do have to admit they have the coolest hair ever.
Can you believe this game was once played with animal bones over 2000 years ago? Although kids certainly aren’t calling out “onesies” or “twosies” on the playground as much as they did 5 or 6 decades ago, we still have a soft spot for this beloved schoolyard toy.