Toys Invented in the 1960s

Written by david benjamin
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Toys Invented in the 1960s
Toys have captured the imaginations of kids from all eras. (BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Much like politics and cultural events, different generations are often defined by how they choose to spend their leisure time. In particular, toys and games are often reflective of the era in which they are introduced. According to Lone Star College, the 1960s marked a shift from the conservatism of the 1950s and ushered in a more revolutionary cultural identity. This culture was often reflected in the toys of the time.

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G.I. Joe

Hasbro introduced G.I. Joe in 1963 as a way to market an accessory focused doll line to boys. The initials "G.I." were short for "government issue," a common military reference to solders. A huge success, G.I. Joe underwent several incarnations to reflect different roles from different branches of the military. According to Time magazine, despite early success, G.I. Joe's popularity declined due to low public approval for the Vietnam War. Joe was discontinued in the '70s and relaunched in 1982 in response to increased interest in the "action figure" genre of toys.

Twister

One of the most popular party games of all time, Twister capitalised on the sexual revolution of the 1960s to become a cultural phenomenon. With a patent filed in 1969, according to the United States Patent Office, Twister consists of a large mat covered in brightly coloured circles and a dial with corresponding colours. Following a spin of the dial, players must plant a hand or foot on the appropriate circle without losing their balance, resulting in the intertwining of limbs between players. Prior to the 1960s it was considered risqué for males and females to be in such close contact. The sexual revolution of the 60s, however, relaxed some of these social restrictions.

Rock'em Sock'em Robots

Developed by Marx Toy Company in 1964, Rock'em Sock'em robots were a hugely popular toy that remain in production today. The game pits two players against each other, each in control of a small robot in the centre of a boxing style ring. Using hand-held controls, players try to knock the opposing robot's head off, signalling victory. Although Rock'em Sock'em Robots no longer enjoy the popularity they once did, similar fighting games remain very successful in video game format. Nintendo even produced its own version of Rock'em Sock'em Robots, with added characters. Rock'em Sock'em Robots are recognised by Time magazine as one of the 100 greatest toys of all time.

Etch A Sketch

Introduced by the Ohio Art Company in 1960, the Etch a Sketch is a reusable sketch device that requires no pencil or paper. The Etch A Sketch is actually filled with aluminium powder that adheres to the transparent screen. A stylus controlled by two knobs creates the design by scraping aluminium off the screen, which shows up as a black line. Once finished, the design can be erased simply by shaking the Etch A Sketch, which smooths out the layer of aluminium on the screen. The Etch A Sketch is recognised by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as one of the most popular creative toys of recent years.

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