Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Toys I Pestered My Parents For

So, shock horror, I have been spending a little time reminiscing about my childhood days (where chocolate bars were bigger, the TV was better, summer's were hot and long and I still had the ability to cartwheel without falling on my face) and I starting thinking about the games/toys I used to play with....and more to the point the ones which I wished I had, but usually belonged to the girl down the road (who I suspect was paying off Father Christmas on the sly).

Now, this was me in the 80's.....

I know ain't I a innocent little cutie....and totally pulling off the dungarees/cardigan ensemble I might add. And I was no girlie girl either....why spend your time fiddle farting around with dolls whilst being all neat and tidy in pink frills when there was much more adventurous activities (usually involving trees and crawling around in the mud) to be had....nope, not me....Tomboy all the way.

That being said the first toy I wanted would probably be considered 'girlie'....but, the advert was strangely memorable......'Wake up Daddy, breakfast's ready'

Blue Bird's A La Carte Kitchen....where 'breakfast' apparently consists of a strawberry swiss roll with cold baked beans....Mmmmmmm. I'm not sure why I figured that plastic utensils and cardboard 'food' stuffs would equal hours of fun but as a 6 year old messing about in the kitchen is always fun....'mess being the operative word. Personally, I blame the lack of the A La Carte Kitchen in my life directly responsible for my completely dire cooking ability in adulthood.....I did as a child have a play bank and post office set and have never had any trouble counting money stamps on stuff so it must be true.

Next....Big Trak....
So, what was so cool about Big Trak...well there was this key pad thingy and you could enter in instructions which it would then carry out on it's own....Ooooooo, seems lame nowadays, but at the time it was quite possibly the most amazing concept....a toy which followed you every long as said commands were accurate and you didn't command it to careen into furniture...not that the Big Trak 'careened'....more, snailed.

I had plenty of board games as a kid....for the rare occasions in the summer holidays where the weather decided to re-green the lawn....but obviously we couldn't have them all....there were a few which I craved to own.....

Pop-up Pirate.....similar to Buckaroo or Perfection (neither of which I owned) where you continued to place swords into the barrel until the pirate...well, er.....popped. It's appeal....the drama, the was like Russian Roulette (minus the gun) for kids.....I fear the parentals choose to keep this particular game from my 7 year old grasp due to the 'poking eye out' potential....not necessarily mine.

Mousetrap....What a genius up the trap and then let rip a well engineered chain of events to 'trap the mouse'....that is of course if all the pieces are lined up correctly and indeed aren't stuck down sofa/eaten by pet/eaten by child (delete as applicable). To be honest had I owned the game I may have spent more time just setting up and releasing the trap than actually playing the game itself....years after craving this the parentals did purchase Screwball Scramble, which was all the fun without the boring game play.

Space Attack....Quite possibly the best game EVER.....similar to air hockey one player would wind up then release a spinning top (aka alien invader) and battle would was was furious.....and invariably the 'alien' would at some point launch clear off the board a disappear under the dresser or 3-seat sofa.

As mentioned, I was (and still am) a Tom parents and various relatives attempted to point me in the direction of girlie dolls and Sindy (the poor mans Barbie) and I do remember picking them up on occasion (quite possibly to launch across the room during a tantrum) but Action Man was what I was really after....especially since playing with Action Man gave me the excuse to crawl around in the shrubs and across the rockery commando style. He did look a little creepy especially with the lever in the back of his head which allowed you to move his eyes from side to side.

The Millennium Falcon.....find me a child of the 80's who didn't want anything to do with Star Wars related merchandise and the above was definitely the golden ticket to popularity amongst peers in junior school....though I don't think anyone in my class had this, the girl down the road however.....

I've always been fascinated by the large domino interest fueled by Roy Castle and Record minute they're just little pieces of plastic standing in a row, then a toppling to reveal flags of the world, the Queen's head, Statue of Liberty etc etc....course it was always just as funny when things went a little wrong....two domino's slightly too far apart and viewers are treated to half of the Union Jack or Paul, John and George but no Ringo. I would imagine the lack of this toy in my childhood was mainly due to the 'mess' potential (cleaning up after myself has never been my strong point)....I tried to compensate by finding alternate uses for my collection of Enid Blyton books.

I'd completely forgotten the existence of this particular toy until a programme which was shown at Christmas involving Top Gear presenter James May and the toys of his sisters which had irritated him immensely growing up. This one was fabulous fun for ickle people....but perhaps not so much for the adults within earshot of the scratchety mono-tones, even when you were hitting the right buttons. My memory is vague, but there were cards which you inserted over the keypad and you could then play such enchanting tunes as 'Baa Baa Black Sheep' and 'Three Blind Mice'.

Mr Frosty....Ah, another attempt to introduce some domestic talent to my young life....My best friend had one of these and the thought of creating your own cool refreshment on one of those balmy summer days of my youth was definitely appealing....Of course the same result could be obtained by crushing ice cubes with a rolling pin and adding fruit juice.....but at such an impressionable age it's all about the packaging. Slush Puppies came along a few years later and I discovered it was just as easy to buy a ready made icy treat than to faff around doing you own.

The BMX.....E.T. has much to answer for with this one....Oh, how I craved and begged for a BMX bike. Owning one obviously meant that I would automatically have the skills to skid to a stop, career over hills and ditches and jump cars. And they looked pretty darn cool too....especially when you had added stickers, reflectors and spokey dokeys from packets of Frosties breakfast cereal....alas it was not to be....when I did get to choose my very own first bike it was a red Raleigh with a basket on the front and stabilisers....and the one time I attempted something 'cool' involving a ditch on a later bike it didn't go quite as planned....let's just say there was blood, bent spokey dokeys and a few shed tears....and it was all my sisters fault.

The Speak and Spell...who'd have thought an educational toy would be so sort after....again the fault of Steven Spielberg, Drew Barrymore and a Prune shaped alien with Emphysema. I think I found this interesting because my only other experience of learning to spell was from cards given to us at school to learn at home....which were kept in tobacco tins.....I used to sniff the cards while at school....yep, healthy. The Speak and Spell then vastly more interesting and less likely to encourage addiction to nicotine.

Skip-It....a later 80's craze. The 80's was great for re-inventing the 'wheel', so to speak, and the Skip-it was no exception, but immensely fun....until the kid using it kicks out to high and gives the one standing next to them concussion.....I seem to remember this was banned in the playground after one to many injuries.
And lastly....Tomytronic:

The computer game era was firmly taking hold but much of it was beyond my price range....pocket money was great for penny sweets and comics, not so much for the advances in gaming technology. Now I did have a viewmaster....which consisted of a plastic viewfinder in which you could insert wheels of pretty pictures which then appeared 3-D....Tomytronic was the next step...and would allow players into an almost virtual reality game in 3-D...think I only ever met one person with one of these things (for once it wasn't the girl down the road) but it was the toy I craved after the most during my formative years....we got instead a Commodore 64.....Nuff said.


Firefly mom said...

OMG, did this bring back some memories! I'll admit I don't recognize everything - obviously you guys had different toys in Britain than we had here in the states ;)

Speak and Spell - had it
Skip it - had it (acutally, something similar shaped like a large lemon - don't ask)
Mr. Frosty - wanted it (or the Snoopy version)
BMX - ask for one for *years* - never got it
Domino Rally - had it
Mouse Trap - wanted it

Millenium Falcon - STILL HAVE IT!!! In the box, even (and my Star Wars action figures, t-shirts, buttons, notebooks, books, pencils, posters, ...)

Emma said...

You weren't the girl up the raod were ya? *eyes suspiciously*

I did have a lot of toys growing up....alas nothing Star War related...shame coz i bet it's worth a fortune now. He-man was the action hero my sis and I played with.....and we had a ridiculous amount of toy cars too....Oh and original Tranformers...those thing were great...ahh, the memories

Malcolm said...

I always wanted Mouse Trap. They made it look so fun on the commercial, which of course was the point. That Big Trak looks awfully familiar. I'm not sure if I'm confusing it with something else. I do remember reading about Skip-It being banned on some playgrounds. It reminded me of another toy I had in the 80s... The Yo Ball.

A few weeks ago I did a post on the same subject. Here is the link if you are interested:

Ewfr said...

Mr Frosty!!!! I used to have a Mr Frosty. It was so awesome but being a boy... I never used it for ice :D Mud was the main ingrediant for MYYY cups of sludge!