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