Friday, October 28, 2005

Favorite Things

A comment by Joe on my previous post got me to thinking about my favorite toys as a child. One of the very best had to be the Thingmaker, for making Creepy Crawlers. This very dangerous toy made you feel like some sort of mad scientist. It allowed you to cook up delightfully frightening creatures to leave around the house in unexpected places for mom to find. Unfortunately, they were literally cooked, in an open "oven." I remember the cord extending from the kitchen table as I baked the little plastic critters. The potential for disaster was great, but it was never fulfilled (by sheer good luck, errrr, because I was a responsible and careful child, that's right). Same with the home chemistry set I had.

A few games come to mind as favorites, including the inevitable CandyLand, Uncle Wiggly, Operation, Masterpiece, Password and Concentration. My ultimate favorite was a game called Voice of the Mummy. I loved that game, and I wish I had kept it. The game board was terraced, allowing you to make your way up the levels to the mummy. You collected pretty scarabs along the way. The coolest part of the game was getting to activate the miniature built-in record player that provided the mummy's voice (yes folks, this was before microchips). Our parents must have chuckled secretly over Feeley Meeley as a name for a kid's game. Hours were spent playing Booby Trap (more laughs, I'm sure), always waiting for the spring to snap that bar and send the game pieces flying.

I had Liddle Kiddles, a Crissy Doll in a bright orange lace go-go dress, Dancerina, and Baby Go Bye-Bye (complete with a pink battery-powered buggy with flower-power decals. I loved my Herman Munster talking handpuppet. When you pulled the string he said wonderfully comforting things like, "Cheer up, it's bound to get worse." Here are the priceless things he said (taken from the ebay listing in the link above):

He says:
"I'm Herman Munster, How do you do."
"My father was such a friendly monster."
"When I was a kid I was homely."
"Cheer up it's bound to get worse."
"Those late late woobies scare me." (Think this should say movies instead of woobies.)
"I eat spinach for my complexion."
"I'm just a green blooded american boy."
"Let's have a picnic in the graveyard."
"Oh you look nice, just like me."
"Hi there I'm your new babysitter."

I'm surprised that I wasn't scarred for life by playing with this toy in my formative years. Seriously, I'd love to have Herman back, too! He was strangely comforting, perhaps because the TV character was so harmless and loveable.

I had a talking parrot named Crackers who delivered the truly original line (via pull string) of, "Awp, Polly want a cracker?" It was hard to get this thing, with it's hard rubber molded feet, to stay on its unbalanced stand. Speaking of which, I had a Dawn Doll with a fashion model stage. The stage actually moved so that Dawn could model her outfits. But Dawn mostly took nose-dives from said stage. Very frustrating for the budding designer, and probably the reason that I'm fashion-challenged as an adult.

Pull strings were big in my day. I had (and still have, though not in great shape) a Charmin' Chatty with records that could be changed, allowing her to be well-versed on a number of topics. I think there was a Barbie with a pull-string, too. And I had a Francie with a flip hairdo and bendable legs. Of course, one leg promptly broke!

I wasn't allowed to have some of my favorite toys because I was a girl, and they were exclusively for little boys. These included Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots and matchbox cars. Somehow I managed to score an Air Blaster Gun, and I had great fun shooting down all of the neighborhood boys.

I can't forget my Hostess Buffet; it had doors that opened to store play dishes, cups, etc. It stood about 2 feet tall or so, and made for some great tea parties, along with my working toy oven (still have it) but it wasn't an Easy Bake Oven. I still have my little sewing machine, too. It actually worked (sort of). Probably still would. All of the domestic things they gave little girls then to mold us virtuously into the little women we were supposed to become. Oddly enough, I don't sew, I rarely bake, and I prefer to throw the kind of parties that call for paper goods rather than the fine china! Guess the social engineering of those toys failed miserably.

I keep remembering more and more things as I Google vintage toys.


My childhood is vintage now.

Heck, let's face it, I'm vintage now!

What were your favorite things as a child?


Zelda Parker said...

Wow, this takes me back. How about chatty Cathy dolls, Monopoly games, battleship and chess. My brother would die rather than let me beat him.....Oh, there are pictures of a black faced doll made of fabric from England that I treasured. My Mom's name for it, I cannot repeat as it is a derogatory term these days. That black faced doll and Chatty Cathy were the favorites of a five year old. One of ourt mutual friends child turned seven yesterday. What do you remember about being seven? That was the year that we moved away from Gran and Gramps to come to the Garden State. WOW! Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

Virginia Gal said...

What a neat list!

My sister and I were addicted to My Little Ponies - we must have had like a 100 of them, funny really considering that neither of us are big animal people.

Random Kath said...

My favorite toy when I was really small was a hideous stuffed monkey named Leroy. Dragged him everywhere. My Grandpa gave him to me when I was three and I still have him today.

I also loved my little Fisher Price town . . . it opened up into a streetscape and had a gas station and garage and barber shop and little apartments upstairs . . . I would take my "little people" and play with it for hours and hours, stealing furniture from my sister's doll house to help furnish the rooms.

You could tell that I was destined to always be a city girlfrom that . . .

PaxRomano said...

Dear god, Creepy Crawlers RULED!!! I used to make fake spiders and roaches and hide them in my sister's bed and wait until she found them under her pillow ... Operation was the best game in the world, and you had a Herman Munster puppet!!! (I had Granpa').

Is this part of that mid-life crisis I keep hearing about?

Merci said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Merci said...

Age 7, hmm, I think that was the year my brother came home from the Army (Germany, thank God, not Vietnam). I seem to remember that he gave me a bracelet for my b-day, and I have a vague remembrance of telling him all about how much I loved licorice.

Funny, the things that draw us in as children! I am not violent, but I liked cap guns and playing cops 'n' robbers.

In the long run, the best games/toys were the ones that engaged our minds. Sometimes a blanket over a couple of chairs could become a house, and the story would grow from there!

And even though I'm more or less a country girl, I like to stay in the city sometimes, too!

Wow, would love to see the granpa puppet! I'll have to Google it.

This might be part of mid-life, but it's not a crisis. Just lots of fond memories.

Joe Tornatore said...

if you can bring in the sewing machine, my wife has never seen one. lol. i am working on a childhood post now and I am using the View-Master in the story. i was just researching it on-line then read your blog. too ironic.

Merci said...

View Master - too cool! Another favorite of mine as a kid. I had a red one.

That sewing machine is in great shape because it saw very little use :-)