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My top 10 entertainment aids
Favourite Childhood Toys
Member Name: Happyjaw
Favourite Childhood Toys
Advantages: Good old fashioned stimulating play increasing imagination
Disadvantages: None.. maybe adversely affected by weather
I keep reading others reviews on their favourite toys from their childhood and going away and thinking about it, so it's about time I put finger to keyboard.
So, given that my childhood was technically 1976 - 1992 with the emphasis firmly on 1980 - 1988 toys wise, you get an idea of the kind of things available.
1. In first place is Barbie. I loved Barbie, Sindy was a close second and I regarded them as friends. I also had Ken and my Mum's old Paul doll (Sindy's boyfriend) which had been mauled by my Nannan's dog, but I didn't mind. He and Sindy were the real deal.
I had lots of dolls, in glamorous gowns, in shorts and t-shirts, in swimming costumes and with a million and one other accessories besides. I had a huge 3 storey Sindy house and furniture from both Barbie and Sindy to furnish it. They had a jacuzzi pool, a bus, cutlery, shoes, tables and chairs, books, beds, wardrobes and dining sets. I must have spent a good portion of my childhood dressing the dolls and rearranging the furniture endlessly. So engrossed was I in Barbie that my Dad, to my embarrassment, used to call them my plastic friends.
I rather hope my daughters like Barbie too, mostly because of the endless pleasure I had in playing with them, no matter the time of day, the weather outside nor where ever we were on holiday, they were portable and fuss free.
2. I had a swing which I distinctly recall begging for. It was red and blue and I think it may have been branded Bluebird. It arrived in a huge box in the porch one Christmas and I was ecstatic. It took a long time until it could be fixed into the garden but when it was I spent a lot of time on it.
My neighbourhood friends would come and play for hours, swinging on the side bars whilst someone spent vast amounts of energy desperately trying to touch the giant trees at the bottom of the garden, stretching ever muscle and pointing toes like prima ballerinas.
The other desire was the swing right over the top of the bar. In retrospect I have no idea why I would want to do that but ambition is a strange thing in childhood. Anyway, one day I was hellbent on achieving that goal and somehow managed to do some form of damage which left me sailing through the air in what must have been an impressive arc towards the kitchen window. I landed on the grass, chains still in hands and without a scratch. I was more amazed that I wasn't hurt that shocked about the damage to the swing and ran inside to tell my mum what happened and to proudly point out that I wasn't crying.
3. I had roller skates at first, the metal ones which fitted over shoes with the red leather lace up sections and which were adaptable to fit forever. However, once mastered, I wanted roller boots for the absolute in skating. I spent much of various summers skating up and down the path outside the house, or holding onto the back of someone elses bicycle and relying on their pedal power for speed.
I have a scar on my stomach from falling down on a discarded piece of litter, a drinks can and the compacted metal gave me quite a scratch.
4. My bike. I first had Sparky, a blue and yellow kids bike with stabilisers which eventually took me into the world of two wheeled bicycles. Sparky, already named on the cross bar, took on quite a character, a horse, a rocket, KIT from Nightrider, the cars in CHIPS, Maid Marian's horse from Robin of Sherwood and various motorbikes and helicopters. Eventually I inherited my aunts Raleigh and the speed and adventure increased.
5. Swingball. I had a swingball for years and years, in fact I think it's still around. It was an early incarnation with the cumbersome bright yellow rigid bats. It was rather like trying to whack a ball with a carpet beater. I was passionate about rounders for a good while in junior school and I'd imagine swingball helped me improve my aim. Again, the neighbourhood kids were interested so I usually had someone willing to play.
6. Tiny Tears. My parents bought me a Tiny Tears baby doll when I was about 3. I remember it had the facility to wet nappies and when I wasn't allowed to suck my own thumb I would suck the dolls, until eventually it broke, which ended the habit entirely. I couldn't deprive her of another thumb. Tiny Tears was eventually superseded by Emily, a large baby doll with the physique of a 6 month old baby and quite the fashion in 1984, I named her after my favourite play friend of the time, a girl named Emily whose uncle lived on the same road. My own daughters are passionate about Emily now, though her stuffing is somewhat flatter. However, Emily features all her own thumbs!
7. Wendy House. My Wendy House went years, so long in fact that I remember being able to put it all together alone and without any help, correctly fixing all the different angular pieces together with all the different sized poles and throwing the fabric over the top. I also remember building on top of the large board my Dad was using to mix cement on and a spider running out from underneath and up my skirt which was trailing on the floor at the time. How I screamed!
8. Run Rabbit Run and Frustration. My Dad would sit with me for hours on the living room floor playing board games. As an only child I was quite reliant on some parental interaction in the evenings or bad weather. Though the games barely differed I loved playing them for hours. I'm still partial to a game of Frustration at work. ( I work with kids! Honest).
9. Desk and chair. I really wanted a desk I had seen somewhere or another and when it was bought for me as a gift I was very pleased. It had bright red hollow tubular legs and a glossy wooden desktop and seat. There was an inkwell and a slanted top with storage beneath and I kept all my colouring pictures and felt tips in there. Eventually it became my first homework desk, but in the meantime it was a play space as a teacher, an adult working, or some random person in charge. It aided my artistic and creative play and role play.
10. Books. Though they don't count so much as toys or games, I have to mention books. I've spent far more hours reading than playing with any toys and the only reason it comes in at number 10 is because it doesn't entirely fit the criteria. For me, books were endless adventures, new friends, magic, new worlds and dreams come true. Choose Your Own Adventure books kept me enthralled in ending adventures in many many different ways. Though I was also very happy following the Famous Five and Secret Seven and most of Enid Blytons other characters and a million more besides. CS Lewis, Tolkien, Alan Garner, Ursula Le Guin, Margaret Mahy, Robert Westall and many, many more besides. I'm still a voracious reader.
Reflecting on those items shows me how different things are now, much of my play was imagination based and outside.
Summary: The way things used to be and how the government would like us to go back to.