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Ghosts Of Christmas’ Past: Toys

Looking for Kitschy crafts to scan I found myself shopping for children’s toys — in 1962′s Today’s Woman Christmas Ideas magazine (1962). So now you do too.

Vintage Toys

Toys… Toys… Toys!
is a six page spread in this very dated publication. Here are a few of my favorite finds.

Up first, infants. And every child, and dog, loves a squeaky rubber toy — but Mittens, by Arrow Rubber, has even more to love. She’s got a sculpted “fluffy” coat (look ma, no pet allergies!), her neck is jointed so she can turn and look at baby while you sleep (baby will forever stay awake with fear — even after she figures out how to close kitty’s eyes), and when pressed gently, she purrs. She originally sold for $2.98; now she’s between $30 – $65 at antique shops online and off. (I imagine the box would sell for more than the sticker said too.)

Mittens Arrow Rubber Toy Ad

For kids aged two to four, we’ve got some ambulatory toys. You know, the kind of toys that get toddlers moving — all the way to the emergency room.

Blaze the bouncy hobby horse whinnies, neighs, and talks too. That’ll scare Joe right off this bucking devil pony. Which is likely the safest thing to do as we all know the bouncy horses were never, as Mattel states here, “untippable.” Blaze was priced at $48 (as hubby and I say, “That’s a lot of money back now!”), however he can be found for free curbside at spring clean-ups. (Just the price of your own elbow grease to remove the rust & blood from Blaze’s springs.)

Old Blaze Hobby Horse by Mattel

Ride ‘Er Wrecker Truck, by Structo, seems a bit safer — that is until you realize that crank winch will be knocked into every leg in the house — from the wooden furniture’s to your own — making mommie one cranky wench. Ah, but it’s 1962… Martini’s are in the fridge. The truck is almost two feet long, so priced at $6.95, that’s almost $3.48 per foot. Now, should you find one, you’ll be hitting the martini’s again — this truck can sell for $50 per foot.

Vintage Rider by Structo

Also found on this page is the classic children’s board game, Candy Land, by Milton Bradley. The game was invented decades earlier, but I still like to look at it. Sold here for 98 cents, this version of the game isn’t likely to be found with the box intact or all of its original pieces. And the game board will likely look old as hell. But then again, so do those of us who were kids in the 60s. If you do luck into this version of the game, give me a holler.

Vintage Candyland Game

For children aged six to eight we have gender stereotypes! (I must admit, this is my favorite!)

This one page has a total of four toys, and only one of them is for girls. To distract us, they’ve put the one girly toy at the top and super-sized it.

While little boys get Jeep Surreys and Magnastix (yes, those were ‘boy toys’ — everyone knows those metal bits just become launched at one another in ‘war’ games, or at annoying female cousins), lucky girls like Susan get to take messages and gripe to their girlfriends, preparing them for their future lives as wives. I assume this is why there is plenty of storage space; Susan knows she’ll need someplace to put her uppers & downers. It’s one holiday gift sure to make mom cry when it’s opened. Who can put a price on self-esteem? Remco can! Originally this desk set sold for $14.95 (plus the cost of batteries); now finding the complete set will likely set you back three times that.

Empress Phone Desk Set

The other nifty kids gifty on this page is the Paper Popper by Daisy. This space-agey looking gun had paper ammo making it a poor weapon in the Fahrenheit 451 war. It sold for $2.98 & now, in a box with ammo, you could be looking at prices that would make your eyes pop.

Retro Paper Popper by Daisy

Then again, I have no idea what would make your eyes pop…

Unless it’s some more of the recommended toys for girls and boys (ages eight to ten).

Once again we have four suggested toys, with three clearly for the boys. But this time they aren’t going to fake it that the girls matter — and why should they? By eight every little girl should be lucky she still has her job taking messages for her male kin — while dodging paper ammo from the Paper Pooper (no, that’s not a typo).

Should you think your little girl deserves another present, then she’s probably one of those smart career gals. Or just really pretty so she’s got you wrapped around her finger. Either way, perhaps she’d make an excellent stewardess, like this Annette doll. What am I saying?! Of course it matters if she’s pretty or smart! Airlines don’t hire the ugly girls, you know. Annette, by Goldberger, is 11 inches tall, “but she is a grown-up, jointed doll with rooted hair and full formed body.” If that sounds like daddy’s little girl, then, shame on you. Annette sold for $4.98 — the doll, that is. I have no idea what these dolls — or Annette — would sell for now.

Retro Stewardess Doll by Goldberger

Ah, now we travel from the battle of the sexes to the cold war with this Code Broadcaster Kit by General Electric. Perfect for geeks, this kit allows youngsters to transmit code over a one-transistor electric circuit. This, and other smart-toy-sets by GE, sold for $3.98 each; and they fit together to create the “grand science experiment console”. So neat, I’d actually like to get me one of these. I’d at least like to see one… They do not exist — never have — according to Google.

Code Broadcaster Kit by GE

On the last page, we find gifts for kids over ten years of age. Sadly, not even one toy is ‘girly’ — I can only imagine that all female souls have sensibly withered away or taken to pilfering her men-folk’s stash of toys while he’s out playing team sports.

Vintage Toy Ads

My favorite toy here is the awesome & ironic electric greenhouse by Westinghouse. Gifts from Westinghouse always scream, “Let’s have fun!” to me anyway, but when someone says there’s a heating circuit embedded in the plastic foam base, well, How-dy!

Retro Electric Greenhouse Toy

It looks so much like those steam set roller sets; just add water, plug it in and let those drops sizzle on your skin when you open the lid.

Clairol Instant 20 Rollers

That’s $12.95 of melty joy, sure to make the Easy Bake Oven look like a sissy. Another toy which Google denies the existence of, but let’s face it, this baby was doomed for so many reasons. Heating seeds to the point of sterility, The Little Garden has become the secret garden no one will ever make into a musical production.

Well, if I had one, I might. The theme song would be “Toys… Toys… Toys!” and I would dedicate it to Today’s Woman of 1962.


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Val Ubell Boy, how did kids ever make it through alive? All sorts of risks! And no wonder that generation of women became teachers, nurses or stewardesses (stewardi?) Nowadays, boys and girls can blast people away in their video games and use "violent' action figures too! December 10th, 2007 at 9:59 AM

Charlotte And no wonder that generation of women became teachers, nurses or stewardesses (stewardi?) Nowadays, boys and girls can blast people away in their video games and use “violent’ action figures too!" What exactly are you talking about? The girls the got Empress desks were younger than Hillary Rodham, for example. I got an empress desk for Christmas 1962. I was ten. By the time I graduated from high school in 1970, the idea of housewifery was already much in question and most girls with good grades were making alternate preparations, though many were still saying "i won't bother with taking that class because I'll just get married." Ten years later, married or divorced, many were taking "that class." The generation born in the 40s and 50s were the "crazy feminists" everybody hates now. Comments like yours' make me know why. How quickly they forget. March 4th, 2008 at 12:11 PM

angela Well, here I am, 50 years old, a high school teacher, and my old buddy "Blaze" is right here next to me in the extra bedroom of my house. He is the only toy to survive my childhood. To this kid growing up in NYC, Blaze was certainly the closest I would ever get to riding the range. And ride we did, every day until I was too big to do so. He actually was untippable as, even at the horse's most forward rocking position,the stand would never move. I never hurt myself on Blaze and neither did the next generation of would-be cow punchers. He's actually rather decorative, now, and in perfect shape. Thankfully, my understanding husband realizes that I can never give up the only horse I'll ever have. September 18th, 2010 at 5:33 PM

Joe Pazourek Wow the memories that flood back. I never had any of the ones listed here. My older sister had the curler kit tho. My favorite toy was The Erector Set. I wanted one so so badly...and for Christmas 1966 I got one...each time I touched I cried..stating I can't believe I got it. My siblings and I still laugh about it. One toy I had was SNAPIX..hard plastic 4x4 mesh squares with multicolored pieces shaped similar to the shapes in TETRIS. Could make all sorts of designs and picture by SNAPpin the small pieces into place. I think Mom got them from The Jewel Tea man. Any know or remember this one? February 15th, 2011 at 12:01 AM

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