10 FAVORITE VINTAGE TOYS OF THE 1960’S, 70’S & 80’S
1. Barbie’s Dream House
Vintage Toys? What little girl in the 1960’s didn’t have Barbie’s Dream House on her Christmas list? Barbie’s cute little house made of paper and cardboard came in a folding suitcase. Its design was mid-century decor, and it came complete with its very own set of matching furniture. The items, including Barbie, could be easily packed away and folded up for storage convenience. In 1962, when the first Dream House appeared on the market, it sold for a whopping $8.00! Over the past 60 years there have been 20+ Dream Houses.
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2. Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots – Vintage Toy
More Vintage Toys? In the early 1960’s a pair of red and blue plastic mechanical boxing robots topped most young boys’ Christmas lists. In 1964, the Marx Toy Company developed what could be seen as a forerunner of the video game controller in this innovative toy. The robots stood in a boxing ring, and were manipulated by hand controllers worked by the players who directed the robots to throw punches at their opponent. When a player was able to hook their opponent under the chin their opponent’s head would pop off, thus ending the round. A simple game that brought hours of fun!
3. Chatty Cathy
In 1959 the Mattel Toy Company came out with the second most popular doll on the market, right behind Barbie. This was the Chatty Cathy doll. Cathy was a cute blonde haired, blue eyed little girl. She was a sizable doll which stood 20” tall. She had a string that hung from her back with a ring on the end of it, and when you pulled it she would talk. Chatty Cathy had 11 different phrases she would say including, “I love you”. In 1959 Chatty Cathy was priced under $10. Today, an original doll in good condition would go for approximately $300. An original African American Chatty Cathy doll could go for anywhere from $300-$1500. That’s some incredible Vintage Toy!
4. G.I. Joe – Vintage Toy
More Vintage Toys: In 1963 Hasbro released a military doll named G.I. Joe. Of course, the company never referred to the toy as a doll. G.I. Joe was meant to be a compilation of the generic American soldier. Though the creator, Hasbro’s VP Don Levine, originally modeled the toy after the sleek design of the Barbie doll, Hasbro knew if they were going to try and market this toy to boys they would be hearing from parents everywhere who would be saying, “No boy of mine is gonna play with a doll!” Hasbro knew dolls were for girls, and a doll for a boy was going to be a tough sell. So, they adopted the name of “action figure”, and from then on, all “dolls” of sorts marketed for boys were to be known as such.
5. Lite Brite – Vintage Toy
Marvin Glass and Associates created a little known wonder in the mid 1960’s. A plastic box, a 25 watt lightbulb, a black sheet of paper, a peg board, and some brightly colored pegs made up this childhood dream. Lite Brite, released by Milton Bradley in 1967, is still topping Holiday lists today. The idea was simple yet genius and clearly way ahead of its time. A small light bulb lit up a black sheet of paper with a design on it which rested in front of a metal peg board. Children would place colorful pegs into the designs on the paper which would then go through the holes in the peg board and, Oiala! A Classic Vintage Toy!
The picture would light up in beautiful colors. One of the most innovative marketing schemes of the time was used for this toy. Lite Brite was the first toy of its kind to incorporate real television characters into the game. The designs included characters such as Mickey Mouse, Scooby Doo, and My Little Pony. In this way, Lite Brite’s marketing approach paved the way to a merging of television and toys for years to come.
6. Stretch Armstrong – Retro Toy
In the mid 1970’s a developer by the name of Bill Armasmith created a little rubber man which he filled with a jellied corn syrup material. The toy was malleable and could be stretched an incredible distance and twisted in different directions without breaking. Armasmith knew this simple toy would be a hit with kids everywhere. He just had to decide on a name for the little bendable guy. While he was working on him he called him Tension Man.
Eventually he started calling him Stretch Man. Then Armasmith shortened the name to Stretch. Ultimately, just before he sold the idea to Kenner Toys he decided on Stretch Armstrong because Neil Armstrong had just landed on the moon a few years earlier. Kenner rolled out production on Stretch Armstrong in 1976, and he’s still a hit to this day
7. Rubik’s Cube
The Rubik’s Cube was created by an Hungarian teacher named Erno Rubik. Mr. Rubik was trying to build a structure that he could use to teach his students about three dimensional design. At the time he called the structure “The Magic Cube” and it was held together by magnets. Initially, it took Rubik 2 weeks to solve his own puzzle. Once he had solved it he knew it would be a big hit if he were able to get it on the market. He sold the idea to The Ideal Toy Company who rolled out production in 1980. As of the year 2020, 450 million cubes had been sold worldwide. It is said that 5.8% of the population can solve the cube.
“Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down”. This was the incredibly catchy jingle in 1969 when Hasbro’s Playskool Division came out with their little egg shaped family who rivaled Fisher Price’s Little People series. The egg shaped people had weights in the bottom so that anytime they were tipped over they would immediately bounce right back up again. A simple idea but a hit with any child 4-10 years old. Originally Weebles came as a nuclear family with a mom, dad, brother, sister, baby and family dog. Eventually, they grew into their own family house. Instead of stairs they had a “Weebles friendly” slide so they could topple all the way down to the bottom floor. Ultimately, Weebles became a full fledged town and community of its own.
Clackers, sometimes referred to as Clankers or Kerbangers, were first introduced in the late 1960’s. This controversial toy consisted of two solid balls about one inch in diameter attached to two short ropes, approximately 8 inches each. The ropes met together at the top with a large ring. The idea behind this toy was that if you could learn to manipulate the ropes you would be able to do all kinds of tricks including crashing the balls back and forth against each other or rotating the balls around in a circle. Clackers were quite the craze when they were first introduced. Kids could be seen everywhere carrying their Clackers with them and swinging them around in all different kinds of ways. This is where the controversy begins.
When Clackers first came out in 1968 they were made out of tempered glass. When kids would start swinging them about and crashing them together at times they broke and shattered into pieces. The shards flew everywhere and caused terrible accidents. So, almost as quickly as they were here they were gone again. However, since they had been such a hit with children everywhere, in the early 1970’s they were brought back. This time they were made out of hard plastic, and manufacturers marketed them as “safer”.
Unfortunately, as popular as they were, it wasn’t long before they were once again taken off the market, this time for good. The reason they were pulled was because parents kept complaining that kids were becoming too wild with them and hitting other children.
In the early 1960’s Marvin Glass & Associates created the game Mousetrap. They tried to sell it to Milton Bradley who didn’t want it because they thought it was “junk”. It was a board game with many contraptions and moveable parts. The object of the game was for players to set up a trap to capture the other players.
They are able to set up all the many different parts of the board in any way they want. These parts included gears that turned, levers that moved, a bucket that tipped over, a ball that rolled, even a see saw and a tiny cage that was made to trap players. The parts don’t always move the same way every time. This was part of the fun of the game. If the players were to make it all the way through the entire board without being trapped they were then allowed to go on for another round. What Milton Bradley originally viewed as “junk”, millions of children saw as endless hours of fun!
The Easy Bake Oven was first introduced in 1963 by Kenner Products. It was a simple toy oven that allowed children to bake small cakes and cookies with the use of a light bulb. The oven came with cake and cookie mixes that were specifically designed for it.
Children would mix the batter, place it in a small pan, and then put it in the oven to bake. The oven would only reach temperatures of around 350 degrees Fahrenheit, which was not hot enough to burn or start a fire.
The Easy Bake Oven was an immediate success and became one of the most popular toys of the 1960s. It was a great way for kids to learn how to bake and be creative in the kitchen. Today, the Easy Bake Oven is still sold but has been updated and improved to include more features and modern technologies.