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5 Awesome Old School Kids Toys

by Guest Author

5 Awesome Old-School Children’s Toys that Are Still Classics Today

These five toys just go to show that classics are classics for a reason. Decades (in some cases) after they first appeared, all five of these toys are still immensely popular today.

1. Play Doh

Why it was awesome then:

Originally, of all things, a wallpaper cleaner, Play Doh’s been around since the mid-1950’s. For several generations, and probably many more to come, the smell of play-doh instantly transports them back to their childhood. Whether you made play-doh pizzas, cut play-doh hair, or simply squished all the colours together until it was one big swirly-coloured ball (yes, I’m looking at you, younger sibling) Play-Doh was a ridiculous amount of fun. Also? Messy!

Why it’s still awesome:

Have you played with it? It’s brilliant! You can make pizzas!! Not very effective for encouraging kids to not eat things they shouldn’t, but hey…  they’re learning to cook. Sort of. Plus, squishing the extruder lever thing and creating “spaghetti” or making “hair” grow out of a plastic figure’s head is oh, so satisfying.

2. Sylvanian Families

Why they were awesome then:

These tiny, furry, cute little animals first appeared on the toy scene in 1985. With an entire world of houses, furniture, accessories, clothes and vehicles, they very quickly became collectibles. They won toy of the year three years in a row. But in the late 1990s, they began to decline in popularity and were discontinued in the UK. However, going to show that you can’t keep tiny fuzzy animals down, they have now been relaunched and are as popular as ever.

Why they’re still awesome:

Cute! And tiny! And cute! In all seriousness, since their comeback, Sylvanian Families have really branched out.  No longer just woodland creatures, there are now all sorts of animals from all over the world. They’re immensely popular in the US & Canada (where they’re known as Calico Critters), Japan and Australia. And vintage and second hand Sylvanian Families figures are incredibly collectible. Probably because they’re cute.

3. Lego

Why it was awesome then:

Although the Lego company has existed since 1934, it was only in 1949 that the now famous plastic bricks first appeared.  Lego – the company name is taken from the Danish for “play well” – consists of an array of colourful plastic bricks, gears, figures and other assorted bits and pieces, all of which are terrifically painful to step on in your bare feet.

Houses, cars, pirate ships, machines… the list of things you could build was endless. The traditional Lego brick was the foundation of the brand. And according to the Lego website, “there are actually more than 900 million different ways of combining six eight-stud bricks”!

Why it’s still awesome:

The beauty of Lego was that you could make pretty much anything, and you still can.

Many incarnations (Technic, Duplo, Fabuland, Belville, Bionicle…), dozens of film franchises (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter…) and four theme parks later, Lego is still going strong. And with three new theme parks scheduled to open over the next year, it doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down any time soon.

4. Mr Potato Head

Why he was awesome then:

He was born in 1952, got married in 1953, quit smoking in 1986, and made his film debut in 1995. He’s been a mermaid, a rockstar, a pirate and a chef. Oh, and he was the first toy ever to be advertised to kids on television. We all know how hard kids are to please, so if that isn’t a sign of awesomeness, I don’t know what is.

The premise of Mr Potato Head is wonderfully simple. He’s a plastic potato with holes in, to which you can attach a load of different body parts (originally intended to be stuck into a real potato, until government regulations intervened – sharp pointy things and small children don’t mix, after all). And he’s never been out of production in nearly 60 years.

Why he’s still awesome:

Have you seen Toy Story? 2? 3? If not, then go away and sort your life out. If you have, then you’ll know why Mr Potato Head is awesome.  Say no more.

5. Spirograph

Why it was awesome then:

Because it made even the most artistically challenged child into a design genius? Okay, maybe not, but it was a heck of a lot of fun. And it’s a toy based on rather complicated maths. That’s pretty cool…

Another three-time Toy of the Year winner, Spirograph first appeared in 1965, and was invented by a man named Denys Fisher. He originally meant it to be a draftsman’s tool, but decided that it was too much fun and should be a toy instead. The swirly twirly designs it could create were wildly popular in the Swinging Sixties, and it quickly caught on.

Spirograph is a series of small cogs, wheels and racks. You pinned a wheel or rack to some paper on a cardboard base, then lined up one of the cogs with it and used a coloured pen to turn the cog, producing the pattern.  Thousands of patterns were possible, and it appealed to adults and children alike.

Why it’s still awesome:

It’s online! (http://wordsmith.org/~anu/java/spirograph.html) But that’s not all. It’s got different shaped pieces so you can draw even MORE patterns. Hundreds and hundreds of them. It’s even got a couple of Facebook pages devoted to it. It encourages children to draw and improves hand-eye co-ordination.

But mostly, it’s just really cool.


Author Bio: Helen Laird writes for Sylvanian Heaven, who specialise in new and second hand Sylvanian Families. They also restore and decorate Sylvanian Families houses to order, and offer delivery worldwide.

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