Retro Toys From the '60s

Written by carlos mano
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Retro Toys From the '60s
Some '60s toys are still around today. (Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

There were no electronic games in the '60s, but people who were kids in the '60s remember the toys fondly. There were some wonderfully wacky toys -- such as Silly Putty, Mr. Potato Head, Etch-a-Sketch, Pick Up Sticks and Slinky -- as well as delightfully destructive toys like BB guns, and there were Barbie dolls. It was a time before political correctness. It was the last generation of reality-based toys -- before play went online.

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Violent Toys

In the early part of the decade, guns and other violent toys were very popular. "Army men" were WWII soldiers with an amazing amount of detail. They had plastic bases that insured they always stood upright, and they were cheap. A bag of 200 cost only £1.30. This meant that enormous battles could be staged inexpensively. Cap guns were a part of every '60s boy's childhood. A paper roll of caps -- dots of firecracker powder -- fit into the gun, and pulling the trigger advanced the roll to the next dot, then tripped the hammer that exploded the cap.

Building Toys

The best -- and most expensive -- of the building toys was the Erector set. These sets included metal girders, pulleys, gears and small motors. A cheaper method of construction for younger kids were Lego blocks. These blocks snap together to build anything you can imagine. Eventually these toys led to amusement parks, where whole towns were made of Legos. Lincoln logs came in a tin that looked like a large oatmeal container. The set consisted of dark brown wooden "logs" that had notches near the ends of both sides. It was easy to assemble Lincoln logs into log cabins.

Artistic Toys

For people of a certain age, nothing brings back childhood like the smell of Crayola crayons. The most common size was a box of eight, but if you were lucky, you could get the 64 box with all the weird colours. The wax crayons were covered with paper that could be peeled back as the crayon wore down. There was also a variety of clay toys, like modelling clay -- with their own distinctive smell -- Play Doh and Silly Putty, which had their own tactile and structural characteristics. The '60s also had an interesting toy consisting of interlocking gears called a Spirograph. This toy allowed you to draw complex interlocking curves that are now practically a fingerprint of the '60s.

Physical Toys

There were a couple of physical toys that were popular in the '60s. One was the hula hoop, a circular tube about 3 feet in diameter that contained a few beads -- so the hula hoop made a swooshing sound when it moved. Kids put the hula hoop around their waists and kept it there by moving their bodies in a hula-like motion. Twister was a game that consisted of a large plastic mat with large, brightly coloured dots. The point of the game was to see how contorted and stretched the players could become while trying to place their hands and feet in the coloured dots that were called out. Silly, but fun.

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