10 Christmas Toys Many Boomers Bought For Their Kids
Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed, which means that the Christmas season is in full swing. It means that the Hallmark channel will deck their airtime with cheesy but (let’s be honest) heartwarming Christmas movies. It means Nativity reenactments at church. It means the Charlie Brown Christmas special on ABC (Woo!). And in the sugarplum-infested minds of millions of children, it means toys.
So, to stir your Christmas spirit, I want you to think back to the toys your now grown-up kids asked for when they were little tikes. Did you wait in line for hours to purchase these special toys? Did you spread Holiday cheer with a few punches? Or were you one of the more cautious ones who picked up what was left in the aftermath? Whatever your shopping style, you will enjoy this list of nostalgic toys from when your kids were still writing letters to the jolly fellow up north.
It was about 3 ‘o clock in the afternoon, and your still pajama-ed son turned the dials to draw a masterpiece. If his little sister didn’t come around and shake erase his work, it would’ve been world-class art like some Etch-a-Sketch prodigies created. One of the holidays most wanted toys in the 1960s, this toy had longevity, its popularity spanning several decades.
- Cabbage Patch Kids
If you want to talk about toy fads, you cannot leave Cabbage Patch Kids out of the conversation. These chubby, dimpled dolls were all the rage 1983 and 1984. According to NBC News, desperate parent pursuits led to fist fights in ‘83. NBC also claims that demand was so high that they were selling on the black market—for 10 times the retail price! There’s nothing shadier than meeting a trench-coated man in a dark alley to buy a Cabbage Patch doll.
- G.I. Joe
“It’s not a doll. I’ll only say this one more time, Mom: it is an action figure.” Your son didn’t want a stupid Ken doll; it was all about the macho, kick-butt warrior named G.I Joe. According to History.com, it was released in the 1960s, fell in and out of style for a decade, but made a resurgence in the 1980s as Star Wars figurines gained popularity. To this day, he still soldiers on—in toy stores, on screens (2009’s G.I. Joe: Rise of The Cobra), and in comic books.
- Easy-Bake Oven
Every little girl wanted to cook just like Mom. Every Mom wanted to protect her house from toddler-incited combustion. The compromise? It’s called the Easy-Bake Oven, a tiny baker’s dream toy of confectionery delight. Cooking with only the energy of a light bulb, the results were…well…not quite like what Mother makes. Oh well! You still have to admire the culinary enthusiasm of an 8-year old. In Time’s List of the 100 Greatest Toys, Townsend writes, “23 million Easy-Bake Ovens have been sold and more than 140 treats have been (at least somewhat) baked.” Yum. Flavorless, sugar goop on Christmas morn.
- Barrel of Monkeys
It is (completely un-sarcastically) more fun than a literal barrel of monkeys. This very simple game of “string the plastic primates together by their arms” was popular in the 1960s, and I—as a 19 year-old—have played with them. It’s such a classic that I’m sure your kids received it at one point or another.
- Lite Brite
You’ve got Easy-Bake Oven for the future chef. You’ve got Lite Brite for the best future artist (and worst future speller). It’s just a couple hundred colored pegs and a plastic pegboard with a light behind it. I’ll let you—or your kids—put that together.
- Stretch Armstrong
Popular in the 70s, Stretch Armstrong didn’t just work on his biceps. As a well-rounded athlete, he also worked on his flexibility. And, boy, did he get results. Children could taffy pull him to 4 times his length according to Time. And if he is anything like the stretchable Mr. Fantastic toy I had, he is full of cornstarch that hardens over time. I had to bathe my action figure in hot water to keep him loose!
They rolled it out with a little plastic rolling pin. They pressed it through various shape-shifting contraptions to make colored noodles of every shape and size—whether angel hair or linguini. But, through all the madness, 2 things were sure: the distinct scent of Play-Doh and a rainbow of gunk under your son or daughter’s fingernails. According to Mental Floss, 2 billion cans have been sold, equivalent to the weight of 2,000 statues of liberty!
- Silly Putty
Stretch it. Bounce it. Or, if Mental Floss is correct, take it on Apollo 8 in 1968 to secure tools in zero gravity! And these are only a few of the many novel uses of Silly Putty. Did any of your kids ever smash it on a Newspaper to lift off the inked words? I know I did when I was little!
- Star Wars Action Figures
I was reluctant to put this one on the list because I knew I would feel obligated to make a serious confession: I haven’t watched all of the Star War’s movies. But before any Star Wars fanatics banish me to the dark side, I would like to say that…well…yeah…I don’t have a good excuse. Sorry y’all! If it is any consolation, I did include the miniature figurines of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and the whole crew in this list. It had to beat out some very fierce competition from Mr. Potato Head, Mrs. Beasley, and Barbie, so be gracious!
And if you are feeling extra gracious (you should be; it’s Christmas time, after all) share this with you kids. Or—if you are the “kid”—share it with your parents. A beautiful time of closeness flurries when memories are shared, and when Christmases past connect with Christmases present.
A warm Merry Christmas from all of us at Seniormark! May God bless you this special season and beyond.
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