I was born in 1958 which made me 2 to 11 years old in the sixties, the perfect age for these Christmas toys. Many homes in America had a Sears catalog with pages that had been dog-eared in hopes of receiving a toy from that very page. Barbie was 1 year old in 1960 and all the girls wanted one. The Ken doll was released by Mattel in 1961.
Speaking of dolls, the 12″ G.I. Joe was introduced on February 2, 1964, and centered on realistic action figures. I certainly had one of those! Teaching kids how to bake at a very young age, the 1963 Easy-Bake Oven utilized two light bulbs and came in two colors — yellow and light blue. Like the G.I Joe, it was made by Hasbro. I remember looking through the Sears catalog and wanting a Dallas Cowboys football helmet and jersey, as well as footballs, baseballs, kickballs, and baseball gloves. I also asked for, and got, an electric football game, the kind where the players vibrate all over the place.
The Chatty Cathy doll was first released in stores and appeared in television commercials beginning in 1960. There was a ring on the back of the doll and when the “chatty ring” was pulled, Chatty Cathy spoke one of eleven phrases at random. The ring was attached to a string connected to a simple low-fidelity phonograph record in the doll’s abdomen driven by a metal coil. The doll said 11 phrases in 1960 such as “I love you” or “Please take me with you.”
Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots is a two-player action toy and game designed by Marvin Glass and Associates and was first manufactured by the Marx toy company in 1964. It features two dueling robot boxers, Red Rocker and Blue Bomber, controlled by two players and the winner had to knock the other ones “block” (head) off!
A spirograph is a geometric drawing device that produces mathematical roulette curves of the variety technically known as hypotrochoids and epitrochoids. The well-known toy version was developed by British engineer Denys Fisher and was first sold in 1965. I enjoyed mine a lot!
I never had one, but Mouse Trap always looked like a lot of fun. It was first published by Ideal in 1963 for two to four players. It is one of the first mass-produced three-dimensional board games. Players at first cooperate to build a working mouse trap in the style of a Rube Goldberg machine. Then, players turn against each other to trap opponents’ mouse-shaped game pieces.
Etch-A-Sketch was created in the mid-50s and began to fly off shelves in 1960 when it was mass-produced by The Ohio Art Co. When Hot Wheels cars came out in 1968 all of us boys wanted them and the tracks. Many automobile manufacturers have since licensed Hot Wheels to make scale models of their cars, allowing the use of original design blueprints and detailing.
Although Hot Wheels were originally intended to be for children and young adults, they have become popular with adult collectors, for whom limited edition models are now made available.
Superball is a toy bouncy ball based on a synthetic rubber invented in 1964 by chemist Norman Stingley. They were one of my all-time favorite toys. When launched in 1967, Lite-Brite was billed in catalogs as “an amazing new toy that lets a child color with light.” It had 16 pre-printed picture sheets to lay on the “magic box.”
The Viewmaster had been around since 1939 but the slides reflected the popular culture of the times including Batman, The Man From UNCLE, Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea, plus the usual worldwide scenes of countries and places around the world.
I love to build and fly model rockets so Estes and Centuri were two of my favorite companies. I always asked for rockets, motors, and building supplies for Christmas. I would put together the kits and design my own rockets to fly. Estes Industries was founded in 1958 by Vern and Gleda Estes and found a home soon after in Penrose, Colorado (the model rocket capital of the world). Lionel Playworld had a whole wall of Estes and Centuri model rockets and was a great place to spend that allowance or any Christmas cash!
- Lego Blocks
- Mr. Potato Head
- James Bond Aston Martin Car
- Tonka Mighty Dump Truck
- Fisher Price’s Snoopy ‘a dog on wheels’
- Batman’s Utility Belt
- Silly String
- Action Man
- Barbie’s Dream House
- Suzy Homemaker
- Flatsy Dolls
- Molded Plastic Playsets (Army Men, Cowboys & Indians, Civil War, Farm, etc.)
- Punch-Me Inflatable Punching Bags
- Portable Phonographs
- Quija Board
- Candy Land