It was a cold, gloomy, and slightly rainy day today in L.A.–a perfect day for cleaning. This afternoon, I helped Shenanny clean out her bedroom. We moved her bed around, moved the furniture a bit, and cleaned out every drawer and the entire closet. I packed away many toys that she has since outgrown, and it made me a little sad.
I was sad not just because my little girl is growing up, but because I grew up. As a child and preteen, I gave away numerous toys and dolls that I thought I no longer wanted. Well, it’s over 30 years later and now I want them. I regret giving away so many of my things, because I miss them like crazy now.
It would have been fun for my daughters to play with them (and I could have cashed in for big bucks on some of them!). But, I can’t get my toys back, so I’ll have to take comfort in my memories. And I can share my memories with you!
So…without further ado, here is my list of the Top 10 Toys I Wish I Hadn’t Been Forced To Get Rid Of (Just joking. My mom knows it’s a joke. I could never be that mean to her.)
10. Small Shots – Mattel, 1972
These little dolls are my first memory of toys I owned. I think I was about three when I had them. They had little wheels on their feet, like skates, and would race down Hot Wheels tracks. I believe I had all of them, including the tracks and break-away wall, but my favorite was the little redhead girl. I think her name was Breezy Bridget. She had a mischievous face and sly smile that I loved. Check out the YouTube video above. It features a very young Jodie Foster!
9. Suntan Tuesday Taylor – Ideal, 1977 or 1978
I owned this doll when I was about nine. Truthfully, she kind of freaked me out. The top of her head would move so you could turn her hair around. She would become a blonde or brunette at the swirl of her scalp. I could never get the dark hair to look as good as the blond, as there would always be an unnatural part on the back of her head.
I liked the sun-tanning version of this doll because she came with little tattoos that you could place on her pale skin before placing her out in the sun. When the tattoo was removed, the shape would show prominently against her orange-tinged suntan. She would darken in about one minute, but it would take almost an hour for her to be pale again.
8. The Waltons Farmhouse – Mego, 1975
Photo credit: collecttoys.net
As a little kid, I loved the Waltons, the CBS television show that aired from 1972 to 1981. I think I liked the show because there were so many brothers and sisters, and I was an only child. It also fueled my love for 1930s vintage pieces.
This farmhouse, a recreation of the house from the TV show, was one of my favorite toys. I played with it daily and I loved it so much. My mom even strung up miniature Christmas lights on the exterior, and bought me a mini Christmas tree for the living room, so I could decorate my own little house for the holidays. I still have all the dolls (Mary Ellen is my favorite) and the little radio, but the house was made of cardboard and it eroded over time. Check out the prices in the ad above. If only toys could cost that now.
7. Star Wars Action Figures – Kenner, 1977 to 1980
Photo credit: planetforce.com
This one is a sore subject for me because I loved my collection. I had over 50 of these figurines at one time. I rarely played with them, but I would collect them. They all stood proudly on their little pedestal display for everyone to see. Unfortunately, lots of people did see. And then they started disappearing. I lost at least five of my action figures to kids who came over to play
with my toys with me at my house. When my mom realized I was missing some, she got so mad that she gave the rest of them away. It was no longer a complete set, so she didn’t want them. I wish I still had them because I think they’d be worth quite a lot of money now.
6. Green Machine – Marx Toys, 1978
I was the only kid in my neighborhood with a Green Machine. Big Wheels were a dime a dozen, but a Green Machine? That was something special. I would race up and down the block for hours with my friends, but the best part was the spin. The crazy arms on the thing would turn the wheels and spin us around in super-fast 360s. We’d fly off or flip over numerous times, but it was a blast.
Love the commercial above. The announcer says it’s for guys, and they only show boys riding it. I guess I was ahead of my time.
5. Dancerella – Mattel, 1978
Photo credit: feelingretro.com
I received my Dancerella doll as a Christmas gift in 1978 and she quickly became my favorite doll. I loved her black hair (almost every other doll was a blonde) and I loved even more that she was a ballerina. I was nine and, at that time, I thought a ballerina was just about the best thing ever. I loved to dance and my favorite little doll would dance with me. With the push of a button in her crown, Dancerella would spin and twirl on the tips of her toes in her little ballet slippers. Every once in a while she would flick her leg in a grand battement. She was so much fun to play with. When I outgrew her, I gave her to my little cousin…and never saw her again.
4. Baby Come Back – Mattel, 1976
Photo credit: dollinfo.com
I had the Big Three of baby dolls in the 1970′s: Remco’s 1976 Baby This-n-That, Mattel’s 1974 Baby That-a-way, and Mattel’s 1976 Baby Come Back. Baby Come Back was my favorite by far. When you pushed both arms down to chest-height, she would begin to toddle away from you. Then she would make a U-turn and head back to you. When she was finished walking, her arms would raise above her head, as if she wanted you to carry her.
I would make her walk in circles around Dancerella as I helped Dancerella twirl around. I would also make her walk around the house, startling both my mom and the various pets we had at the time. The most fun I had, though, was creating buildings of blocks and other items, and having her destroy them–crashing through them like a giant, monster baby. Good times.
3. The Game of Jaws – Ideal, 1975
Photo credit: starwarstoybox.com
First off, the movie Jaws scared the bejeebus out of me. I was six when it came out, and my mom took me to see it…over 20 times. It was her favorite movie.
I remember watching most of the movie through finger slots from my hands over my eyes. In fact, I didn’t see the movie without hands over my eyes until I was in my 30s. It scarred me for life and made me forever afraid of the ocean, which is tough when you live in Southern California. Thanks, mom.
But the game, I loved–after I got over the initial fear of it. The game consisted of a plastic shark with a rubberband-rigged jaw. You would place various items in his mouth and then you would have to retrieve them with a fish-hook. The catch was, you had to do it before his mouth randomly chomped shut. It would scare the crud out of me, but it was fun. I don’t recommend placing your hand in his mouth though. His teeth were sharp!
Ahhh, the 70s…when people didn’t care about trivial things like kid safety.
2. Little People Airport and A-Frame Playsets – Fisher Price, 1974-1976
Photo credit: judysvintagefptoys.com
Photo credit: zindo.com
I adored my Little People toys. I owned them ever since I was a pre-schooler, when the people were little wooden pieces. Somewhere along the line in my childhood, the pieces became plastic, but I would mix and match without complaint. I owned many of the playsets available at the time, but my two favorites were the Airport and the “A” Frame House. I put them in a tie for the #2 spot on this list, because I would play with them at the same time.
I would spend countless hours playing with these toys, creating scenarios of family vacations and camping trips. The Airport had a cute luggage tram and miniature luggage for the Little People. The airplane had adorable little pilots. And the house had the cutest little outdoor furniture and bunk beds that could be separated if necessary (you know, for redecorating purposes). I loved the little tables with pictures of food and dishes on top.
1. Barbie Fashion Plaza/Star Traveler Motorhome – Mattel, 1975/1976
Photo credit: etsy.com HeartlandVintageShop
Photo credit: hydroponicsonline.com
I placed both these toys at the top of the list, because they represent all the Barbie accessories and homes I had. I also had the Townhouse, the Friend Ship United Airlines airplane, and a couple of Barbie Corvettes, to name a few. The Star Traveler and the Fashion Plaza were two of my favorites.
I adored the Star Traveler because I always pretended Barbie and her friends were a band. The motorhome was their tour bus and they’d travel around the country performing for their fans. Usually, I’d have someone sunning on the chair on the rooftop, but she’d fall over eventually. That would turn into a very sad day on their touring schedule.
The Fashion Plaza was my absolute favorite toy, as I loved to play store. This toy was the perfect combination of everything I loved: Barbie, shopping, and fancy dresses. Not only did it have a beauty salon and a “working” escalator, it had an upstairs devoted to wedding gowns and evening wear. Ken would wait around in the little cafe under the escalator as Barbie and her friends got their hair done, bought shoes and accessories downstairs, and then made their way to the dresses above. My mom fashioned additional little poles and hooks into my plaza to hang more dresses, purses, and hats for Barbie. Mom even made a dozen or so little paper bags of different sizes, complete with handles, for Barbie to hold all her purchases.
Of all the toys on this list, I wish I had the Fashion Plaza and Star Traveler the most. The memories they bring back to me are some of the best of my childhood.
Growing Up Skipper – Mattel, 1975
Photo credit: fashion-doll-guide.com
Growing Up Skipper was a doll I did not fully appreciate until I grew up. Unfortunately by then, I didn’t have her anymore. In the 70s, I was too young to understand the controversy surrounding her, but I came to learn later that she was a pretty notorious doll.
Skipper was Barbie’s little sister, and in this version of the doll, Skipper would “grow” from a little girl to a teenager with the rotation of her arm. Her arm was like a crank that, when turned, would cause Skipper to hit puberty. In an instant, Skipper would gain an inch in height, her waist would narrow, and she would magically sprout breasts.
Many parents were in an uproar over the doll’s instant puberty, and the toy was shelved less than two years later. It’s a little weird now to think that Mattel would have created a doll that actually hits puberty, and I’m sure toy companies would never think to create this kind of doll again, but it was great while I had it.
Toys I loved so much I kept them:
Superstar Barbie – Mattel, 1977
I love Barbie. I have always felt a kinship with her, because we share almost the same exact birthday. Only she’s ten years older than I am. Superstar Barbie was a Barbie I got when I was eight, and she is my absolute most favorite Barbie ever. That really means something when I’ve owned probably over 300 Barbies in my lifetime (counting both of my daughters’ dolls too).
She was everything I wanted to be: beautiful, sparkly, confident, and famous. After all, she wasn’t called “superstar” for nothing! My favorite part about her, though, was the huge diamond ring you could pop into and out of the hole on her ring finger. Okay, that doesn’t sound attractive, but it was really cool.
My Friend Mandy – Fisher Price, 1977
Photo credit: toyzdollz.com
I played with my Mandy doll for years, because I loved her so much. When I outgrew playing with her, I displayed her in my bedroom. I owned Mandy (the blonde), Jenny (the tan brunette), Becky (the freckled redhead), and Mikey (the only boy). Also, I owned all the clothes that were made for them at the time. I loved the little clogs they wore, and the rain outfit–coat, hat, and rain boots–was my favorite. I shouldn’t say “owned” though, because I still own all of it. My dolls and all their clothes and accessories are packed away for safe keeping…and I will never part with them. They were, to me, what my Shenanny’s American Girl dolls are to her–very special friends.
Do any of these toys spark memories in you? What were some of your favorite toys? Do you still own any? I can’t wait to hear. Tell me in the comments below.