Today the kids may be adding iPads and gamestations to their Christmas lists but what did the kids of the sixties hope to find under the christmas tree on Christmas morning?
What were the presents that were guaranteed to put a smile on your children’s faces on Christmas Day? Searching for those must-have toys left many parents in a cold sweat over the years as they searched to get them in time for Christmas.
In the swinging sixties Christmas lists were, (just like today,) filled with the latest toys of the day and many new and must have games came onto the UK market place, names that even today you will find on many letters to Santa.
1960 Lego was seen at the Brighton Toy Fair for the first time in 1960, the blocks took Britain by storm, massively outselling the Loopyloop (?) which the pundits had thought was going to be the hit of the year. Everyone went bouncing mad when Space Hoppers appeared on the scene.
1961 saw the arrival of blue-eyed boy Ken, a partner for Barbie and measured exactly 1/2″ taller than Barbie. Makers Mattel faced dilemma – should Ken be anatomically correct below the waist? A pair of unremovable ‘perma-pants’ solved their problem. Scalextric, took off and enjoyed a boom year in 1961 when it was the third best selling toy, just behind Noddy.
1962 Mice everywhere were running scared, as 1962 saw the arrival of Mousetrap with its catchphrase ‘It’s fun to build this comical wonder, but woe to the mouse who gets caught under’. Kit modelling became really popular and Airfix was one of 1962’s top toys
1963 saw this girl next door hit the UK public as the Sindy doll arrived – advertised as ‘the doll you love to dress’ she just flew off the shelves for Christmas. Diplomacy, a board game,that required cunning and skill proved to be a top selling game and Matchbox opened their car doors
1964 Mr potato head lost his potato body and the Potato went plastic with a precision moulded man-made spud. Beatlemania continued with the arrival of the Fab Four dolls – (I personally had a Paul version, he was my favourite because like me he’s left handed) which flew off the shelves.
1965 the James Bond Aston Martin Car became the first ever Toy of the Year, Maths became fun with the arrival of plastic circles and shapes with ridged edges (like gears) that created intricate designs when a pen traced the line of the plastic insert as it rolled round the outer guide, aka Spirograph . With it’s bright yellow paint this tough truck was a must have for everyone who had to be a Tonka Mighty Dump Truck kid.
1966 was the year that Action Man caused a sensation as the first doll in the UK for boys and Tiny Tears, the first drink and wet doll hit the UK market, with her rockabye eyes she was a huge success. Top board game of ’66 had to be Twister, a great game for all ages, and one of my own particular favourites.
1967 saw launch of Etch-a-Sketch, game fans loved the new KerPlunk and classic naval warfare game Battleships was also top of many Christmas lists
1968 Sindy won Toy of the Year (again in 1970), Fisher Price’s Snoopy ‘a dog on wheels’ was a massive hit with toddlers who loved his plastic lead and his bark. Batman’s Utility Belt which came with handcuffs and a super gun saw fans emulate the caped crusader and kids hopped along on a Spacehopper.
1969 Hot Wheels cars were built for speed and when paired with the Hot Wheels track system – a kit of loops, curves, and ramps (that parents had to put together) it was possible to build speedways that make rollercoasters look tame. Silly String found it’s way onto the UK market and as we all know it’s nothing like string. This sticky top-secret weapon loved by all kids (the young and not so young variety) is great, good clean fun and always around at Christmas parties.
What was your favourite sixties toy? Do some of these vintage toys still appear on your kids Christmas lists or have they past their sell by date in favour of tablets and gamestations?
Take part in our Bygone Christmas’ by getting in touch below and telling us your all time favourite toy.