I Was Milton Bradley’s Love Child–Part 3

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About a year ago, I was at work and BORED out of my gourd and started a conversation with a nearby cubicle mate about toys we grew up with.

We didn’t have much in common, though. She is from the safe, child-friendly “Rainbow Brite” era and I am from the epoch which produced toys that maimed, burned, cut, punctured, scalded and prompted death due to chocking and/or emission of toxic fumes.

We made creepy, plastic bugs with a goop that was produced by the winner of a nasty bidding war between Union Carbide and Dupont. This was stuff that when heated possibly produced the equivalent of Sarin Gas and we breathed it all in as we “played”.

And we weren’t even Kurdish!!

But we’re alive and kicking today, albeit a bit lacking in pulmonary strength, but we’re fine.

In the midst of my trek down Memory Lane lo those many months ago, I decided to look up the toys of my childhood and compiled them in two separate blogposts, entitled “I Was Milton Bradley’s Love Child-Parts One and Two”. I’ve included easy access links to these at the bottom of the page.

Well, would you believe that those two posts have been two of the most popular ones in my entire blog repertoire? We’re talking internationally popular, too. That said, it only seemed fitting that a Part Three become a reality.

So, here you go, adult kiddies. Let’s see what Good Ol’ Enterprising Laurie can dig out of the ass of the Internet in terms of pics and fun facts surrounding long forgotten toys we all grew up with.

Providing you’re over 47.

Let’s begin with my “Big Ticket” gift from Santa; Christmas of 1966.

I’ve been looking for a pic of this toy since forever and finally found it last week. It was called “The Little Hostess Buffet” and it was that indeed–and then some.

It was this white plastic Louis the XIV knockoff of a sideboard with a complete service for four. Four plates, cups and saucers in a mock bone china. Plastic “etched crystal” water goblets and footed sherbet bowls. It came with a “silver” tea service with two candle holders with two pink plastic candles, four green paper napkins, plastic fruit in a “cut glass” bowl, plus a 20 piece place setting of toy flatware.

By the way, the toy knives were serrated thank you very much. And yes…they cut.

Flesh.

Ask my sister, Karol.

Please excuse this photo. Karol was rather hirsute as a young girl.

Anyway, I could only find a photo of the box it came in, but there it is: the pinnacle of my mother’s failed attempt to push me into obsequious female servitude to men and society.

BEHOLD: The Little Hostess Buffet…by Marx.

Remember Spirographs? You actually pinned the “spiros” to your paper with multi-colored push pins. Lawd God that would so NOT fly today.

After I got bored with Spirograph, I moved on to Spirofoil. Just replaced the paper with thin sheets of aluminum that were incredibly sharp. The final result was colorful, though hardly the prettiest things in the world, but boy could they cut and shape wallpaper in a pinch.

Asbestos shingles, too.

Insidiously ugly Troll dolls.

This was a bit before my time, but I remember these things. They were supposed to represent good luck. You’d be bestowed with a butt load of it if you rubbed its neon pink, blue or green hair or something and the best ones (if memory serves) had a horseshoe shape indented in one of it’s stubby little plastic feet.

INTERESTING KENDRICK SIDEBAR STORY: Karol and her friend Julie were Barbie fanatics. They played with them all the time and their stories got a little steamy. Torrid affairs between Ken and Barbie…Midge and Ken; Barbie and Midge. There were drunken brawls at parties, addictions, a few murders–one mutilation if I remember correctly, sensational court trials and of course, several requisite unplanned pregnancies.

We’re talking juicy shit for 11-year-old imaginations.

Karol and Julie would always use a troll doll for one of Barbie’s bastard children with Ken. It was ugly, had a misshapen body with hydrocephali…obvious side effects of the Thalidomide that Babs took during her first trimester, but our heroine loved “Little Gambit” and raised him/it just like her other illegitimate child, Skipper.

Anyone remember Colorforms???

They’re hard to explain, really but I’ll give it my best shot. Colorforms included a cardboard tray of sorts that depicted a scene from a TV sitcom or a popular cartoon of the time and you could remove these thin, plastic colored shapes and place them in and around the scenes.

Here’s what they looked like:

I remember this toy losing it’s appeal fast because there was no adhesive on them per se, the plastic of the shapes stuck to the laminate on the surface of the tray….for a while anyway. On hot and humid days, the Colorforms themselves always curled up and they were a bitch to uncurl.

This item also had that same unmistakably nasty chemical-laden 60′s toy smell.

Speaking of noxious fumes, anyone remember Wham-O’s “Super Elastic Bubble Plastic”? I do.

I couldn’t find a picture of the stuff, but I found a commercial. This is a two-fer. A Superball is included in this ad (I discussed that at length in Part 2).

According to Wikipedia, “Super Elastic Bubble Plastic” consisted of a tube of a viscous plastic substance and a thin straw used to blow semi-solid bubbles. A pea-sized amount of liquid plastic was squirted from the tube and made into a tiny ball. One end of the straw was then inserted into the ball, and the user would blow into the other end, inflating the plastic into a bubble. The bubble could then be removed from the straw by pinching the hole closed, sealing the air inside.

The size of each bubble depended on the amount of plastic used. Roughly the consistency of bubblegum, the bubbles it created were much more durable than their soapy counterparts. They could also be gently manipulated to make different shapes, and stacked to make simple figures such as snowmen. Much less durable than actual balloons, however, they could pop easily if overinflated or handled with too much force.

Chemically, the bubbles contained polyvinyl acetate dissolved in acetone, with plastic fortifiers added. The acetone evaporated upon bubble inflation leaving behind a solid plastic film.

Besides the obvious potential for messes when letting children play with liquid plastic, the substance also emitted noxious fumes. The fumes could become concentrated inside the straw, so users had to be careful never to inhale through the straw while inflating their balloons. Because of these problems, Super Elastic Bubble Plastic was eventually taken off the market.

I can only remember the smell.

And the high.

Dude.

I saw an ad for “Sticky Fingers” one Saturday morning and knew immediately I had to have this game. Anyone remember it?

Two players held up these big plastic fingers with suction cups attached at the tips:

You could control the suction by pressing and releasing a trigger at the bottom. See the ball between the two grotesquly large plastic digits? Well, the ball had numbers all over it and you’d catch the ball by adhering to it via suction cups on the fingertips and whatever number that was in the suction cup, was your score.

I think.

I really don’t remember. I had the game for exactly three hours. My neighbor Susan and I were playing with it…or trying to anyway, and right in the middle of a fairly decent volley, the ball fell in the middle of a clump of cacti and deflated.

It wasn’t that much fun. It was hard to get the ball and the finger tip and the suction cup to sync up.

I would imagine this is something close to a very slow version of Jai Alai for young, urban kids in the 60′s.

Ah yes..Balsa Wood Gliders.

You’d buy them for 35-cents at the Dime Store (or Ben Franklin’s in Karnes City Texas, circa 1965). You’d take them home, assemble them in between removing balsa wood splinters from the tips of your fingers and then, you’d let them fly. You could watch them sail for 15 to 20 feet maybe. .

Then, they’d nosedive into the carpet grass and break a wing. We got about 29 cents worth of entertainment out of each glider.

I didn’t play with dolls that much, but I remember my best friend, Cheryl had this doll. I think it was called “Chrissy”.

What I remember about this doll though was something about her hair. I think it was retractable. You could pull it out of her head to get it to adjust to different lengths. Cheryl, if you’re reading this, remind me exactly WHY this doll was “fun”?

Karol also had a Gerber Baby.

If you squeezed it, it squeaked. It had a funky plastic curl on one side of it’s head. Odd.

And my oldest sister, Kathy had a Chatty Cathy.

But not exactly like the one seen above. Kathy wanted a Chatty Cathy alright, but my rather senile grandmother bought her a black one.

I do believe that in 1963, it actually said “Chatty Cathy–Negro Version” right on the box. Can you imagine? I’m glad she didn’t ask for a Jewish Jane Doll. I don’t even want to think what Madison Avenue could’ve done with THAT box!

I used to love the Bob Clampett cartoon known as “Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent”. He was this big, green goofy aquatic plesiosaurus and hung around with this tubby little blond kid named Benny who wore a propeller hat .

I had a talking Cecil hand puppet.

I don’t remember the orange hatted Bob Hoskins looking character, though.

Can’t do a post about nostalgic toys without mentioning the Potato Head family. Here they are:

Katie Carrot

And Pete the Pepper

And the spud who started it all…Mr. Potato Head

I think there might have been an Eddie the Eggplant, but we Kendrick girls just called him “Howie”.

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Check back for “I Was Milton Bradley’s Love Child–Part 4″ soon.

To be dazzled with even more memories and hoot, here’s Part One and Part Two

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21 comments on “I Was Milton Bradley’s Love Child–Part 3

  1. Karol says:

    I had a jingle-jump—a plastic ring you slipped around your ankle with a string and a ball attached to it. When you jumped the the ball would go around and you jumped over it with the other foot. Money spent wisely. I probably saved a mere $1.25 just to buy that thing.

    The romantic scenes Laurie mentioned that went on between mine and my friend Julie’s Barbie and Ken were of course from our imaginations-not from experiences. We were just 10 years old!!!

    I didn’t have too many dolls growing up. I went from my Gerber baby to Barbies to boys.

    Thanks for treating me to a trip down memory lane, Lar. I do remember much about our bizarre toy interests.

    Mid Sis

  2. Dear Mid Sis Karol of Sexual Barbie Hijinx,

    A photo of Jingle Jumps can be found in Part two. They are exactly as we both remember them.

    LK

  3. romi41 says:

    My cousin and I would sit in our cardboard playhouse and try to make our Ken and Barbie have sex…we were aged 9 and 7, and we never quite knew what they were supposed to do, but we knew that they were supposed to be naked and that the plastic space between their legs was supposed to inter-lock (since Ken didn’t have a wang)…..so it was basically lesbian sex or something with Ken playing the short-haired flat-chested lesbian…ahhh to be young again :-)

  4. Mamacita says:

    My brother had a stuffed Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent that was five feet long and talked when you pulled the string. The best part was getting my brother to try to say “Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent,” because he couldn’t and we turned it into a sport. Mom said if he didn’t learn to say it right three times in a row before he went to kindergarten, she’d sign him up for (shudder) SPEECH. In less than a week he trained himself to say it right.

    I never told Mom, but I had a hard time saying it myself. But if she’d put me in SPEECH in the sixth grade, I would have stuck my head in the oven.

    I remember all of these toys. But do you have the Beatles “Flip Your Wig” game?

  5. cheryl says:

    I remember your buffet set. I was very jealous you had one and I didn’t!

    I loved playing with Barbies. We (Lajuana, Lisa, Sara and I) would set up our barbie houses in my back yard and play all day. I still have alot of my Barbie stuff. What nice memories.

    I still have my Crissy doll and I also have Velvet! She is blonde with a purple outfit. I think she is Crissys cousin. You could make her hair long or short. To shorten her hair you turned a knob on her back and then if you wanted her to have long hair you pushed a button on the front and her hair grew.

  6. Karol says:

    I got my first Barbie in 1960 when I was 5 years old. She had dark brown hair and it was in a pony tail. She had on a black striped bathing suit and was wearing white plastic shoes. I also got a carrying case for her and a few clothes I managed to beg mother to buy.

    I really didn’t have a Ken doll. He was Andy-Ken’s long lost cousin. I didn’t have Midge-Kathy did but I did have a white haired Skipper. Ah, so many memories.

    Then I graduated to one of those more sophisticated Barbies that had bendable legs. Thanks to you, lil sis, one of her legs got broken and couldn’t be repaired. But that’s ok. I got revenge when I outlined the eyes and brows of one of your dolls with a black magic marker.

  7. Dux says:

    Ouch………Balsa Wood Gliders, I remember buying them for a dime.

  8. christine says:

    Thanks, I remember all those toys, I had my favorite troll doll and troll horse, too. I also had one of the first bubble-hair Barbies and she was a redhead too! Remember the (how do you say or call the two hard balls on string), that we would knock them together, (Knockers)? We used to knock the hell out each other with them! Many black eyes and bumps on the heads!

  9. Deborah says:

    You must have a lot of time on your hands. But then again, here I am pouring over your wonderful pictures. I can’t remember ever thinking that I would ever forget these toys. They just “were”. Leads us perhaps to appreciating what is all around us as tomorrows precious memories. Cell phone with only the internet, camera, phone, text messenger, calculator, picture album? Wow! How unsophisticated!

  10. Debbie says:

    Is there any place to find a Little hostess Buffet I’e been looking for Hostess Buffet? As an only kid it was my perfect anal retentive toy. Candle sticks, fruit bowl. china, and silver. Wer they expensive for the time?

  11. Sherry says:

    Ah! The Hostess Buffet! How much fun I had with that. Like Debbie, I was an only child and mine was in fantastic condition. My ex-husband turned our attic into a fourth bedroom somewhere around 1988 and threw my Hostess Buffet set away. You can’t find them anywhere and they are actually in high demand. That damned thing would have been worth a small fortune right now. Live and learn. I have kept many of my children’s toys that are in good shape. Maybe they can cash in on them someday!

  12. Abbie says:

    I fondly remember my “Hostess Buffet”. I even remember most of the song that went with it. Of course, it’s gone, our house burned when I was in high school. Just looking at the picture of the box made me cry. I can’t wait to show my kids the website. They crack up when I sing the song. I was 7 years old in 1966. Does anyone know how much this cost back then? I would love to know.

  13. Mary Warren says:

    You girls are too funny! I was looking at my old Chatty Cathy “voice box/record” today, along with Baby’s Hungry & Chatty Baby, when I just thought I’d Google the Hostess Buffet. And so it is that I’m here! I actually still have mine (I’m 53….don’t remember exactly which Christmas, but it had to be early 60′s.) I served many dolls and imaginary friends with that doggone thing. I don’t believe I have but a couple of the plates, but I’ve got the buffet itself. This is so funny that there are others with such fond memories of that toy. Maybe I’ll get it out and serve from it tonight!

  14. Crash says:

    Captain Horatio Huffenpuff was the name of the guy in the orange hat on the Beany and Cecil comic. Dishonest John is the guy in the water.
    I had the beany propeller hat that was also a bubble gum dispenser.

  15. Donna says:

    Laurie, I love your site.

    My mother is stage 4 and won’t be with us much longer, so this Christmas was very emotional and very special. We were sitting this Christmas knowing it would be our last together and remembering all of the 50 Christmases we have had together. I asked her which one was her favorite and she said “the one when I bought you the Hostess Buffet”. My brother and I usually got one gift from Santa, but it was always the most special and most wished for gift. How I wish I still has that Hostess Buffet, just to be able to see her face. Her joy was always seeing our little faces light up. It was an amazing gift that I played with everyday. It was the prettiest piece of furniture in our house back then, ha ha. Everyday I served my Mom and I meals on the plates by candlelight and even put real fruit in the fruit bowl on the top of my buffet and then made dessert with my Easy Bake Oven. (Oh, when I think of how many of those cakes she ate and had to make believe were delicious (with the exception of the Devil’s Food one, which was really ok). I guess it was one of my favorite Christmases with my Mom too, along with the other 49. Thank God for the memories we are left with. Just seeing the picture of the box made my day. Thank you. Laurie, If there is anyway you can, please, please send me just the picture of the box. I would like to put it in a card to give to her this week I can’t seem to print it from my screen Thank you, Donna-Maria

  16. Denise says:

    I had every one of the toys you mention (with the exception of Chrissy), but the Little Hostess Buffett was my all-time favorite! Santa had left it for me at my grandparents’ house on Christmas (Pop always insisted on getting the most wished-for gift) … then we had to shlep it home with a family of five in a 1963 Ford Galaxie! Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

  17. Barbara says:

    I can’t believe how you were able to sum up my childhood so perfectly….through the years I have used ebay as a way to walk down memory lane….just seeing certain images brings back all of the memories. By far the Little Hostess Buffet was my strongest memory….I have a memory of the commercial that ran on television with some little girls strolling through some white sheer curtains on a black set and finding the buffet…..not sure if anyone any else remembers that! So great….

  18. Carol Knauer says:

    Somebody find me the You Tube version of the Hostess Buffet commercial!!!! I can’t find it anywhere!! Send to kettlek2@gmail.com
    Thanks.

  19. PatBudd says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! The buffet was my favorite all time gift and NO ONE I know remembers it. I am so glad to have found your site!

  20. Aunt Anne says:

    Little Hostess Buffet meant my yard was the place to “play house”. I would proudly drag that thing out, and, of course, I would get to be the mother of the family! This must be when I began my life-long love of dishes, china, etc. Thanks for the stirring my memories! Aunt Anne

    (and the song went “Little Hostess…Buffet” !)

  21. T Rouge says:

    Wow, I really remember that “Little Hostess Buffet,” both the item and the jingle. My most disappointing Christmas ever: apparently the company paid for the advertising well in advance, but the actual toy had already been sold out for weeks (at least in our city). I never did get one, nor did a dozen of my school mates, but (insultingly) one girl in our neighborhood DID actually get one. I also never owned a Barbie: my Dad thought they were too expensive, and from age 7 on, he decided I was too old for dolls and wouldn’t let me have any. Probably because of my mom, though, I did have a Tressy doll (one of the original ones). She was a kind of Barbie knock-off that came with a plain face, white (retractable/extendable) hair, a doll make-up kit so you could make up her face yourself, and hair dye markers you could use to make her white hair either blonde, brunette, or red. I also had a creeple people set, and my brother had creepy crawlers. Does anyone else remember when they introduced edible goop? And boy, did I have troll dolls! (My dad didn’t consider those dolls, though I’ve never known why.) They came naked, so I made clothes for them. Balsa wood gliders? Loved those things! And I can’t even remember how many tubes of “Super Elastic Bubble Plastic” we went through as kids. Now I’m REALLY dating myself here: the original “Mr. Potato Head” didn’t come with the now iconic plastic spud. The original was a set of features (eyes, lips, etc.) with VERY SHARP, POINTY plastic spikes that you stuck into an actual potato. I got one of those (probably not from my parents). Even with the sharp spikes, as a pre-schooler, it could be a challenge to get the parts stabbed into relatively correct spots on the potato. My Mom hated it, not because of the sharp parts, but because she thought it promoted wasting perfectly good food. She insisted I re-use the same potato over & over until I’d pretty much stabbed it into goo. But the toy I really wish I’d kept from my childhood: my Green Ghost game!

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