View Full Version : Chatter What's Your Favorite Vintage Toy?

11-07-2011, 08:18 PM
With Christmas fast approaching, thoughts turn to toys. Check out this nifty web site with photos & descriptions of vintage toys: http://www.timewarptoys.com/toptoys.htm

My favorite toys from many moons ago were:

Vertibird helicopter (still have it in the box from 1971)
SuperStar freeflight electric cam-steered airplane
HUGE toy robot collection: Horikawa, Cragstan & Remco robots (sold most at yard sales for a quarter)
Mattel Vac-U-Form toy
Kenner Easy Show projector
Erector & Lego Sets
Slot car & train sets
Funtronics electronics set (!)

Later, I got my older brother's hand-me down computer toys: the Think-a-Tron and Digi-Comp 1.

What did you folks have?

Oldbitcollector (Jeff)
11-07-2011, 08:31 PM
Commodore 64
Arcade Machines


11-07-2011, 08:34 PM
Some that I remember are:




Any building sets:



Of course there were the trains, slot cars, etc and all the typical stuff. That was all before the video game craze.... A lot of if was gone through the years but I did pickup a couple nice slot cars sets to use with the kids.


11-07-2011, 08:37 PM
Commodore 64
Arcade Machines


I have a few C-64s and a few arcade games myself: Jungle Queen pinball (Gottlieb 1977, last year of all-mechanical), Battlezone, and Omega Race cocktail table. Previously, I have owned Pole Position 2 and Asteroids Deluxe. Still need to find a good Star Castle, dangit!

Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)
11-07-2011, 08:40 PM
My two brothers and I were into the destructive stuff. One of our favorites was the Junior Dynamite Blaster (http://www.samstoybox.com/toys/JrDynamiteBlaster.html). It used a hand pump crafted like a TNT detonator to pressurize a base that held a plastic hemisphere. Once the pressure reached a critical point, the hemisphere would fly of the base with a loud "pop". It was fun to build things atop the blaster and watch them get destroyed.

Another great toy was an anti-aircraft gun that had a long steel barrel with a very stiff spring. The spring was used to propel a rubber-tipped plastic projectile that could really hurt or damage an eye if hit by it. We used that to demolish models made from the non-Lego plastic bricks we had at the time.

On of our favorite (albeit non-destructive) toys was a battery-powered plastic ladybug with feelers that would cause it to change direction upon encountering an obstacle. The direction change was done entirely mechanically via a gear shift mechanism. (Obviously, our first mission was to disassemble the things to see how they worked.)


11-07-2011, 08:41 PM
Captain Video Space Helmet, membership card, and play-along record.

Tin gas station, with service bay and cars (don't recall the make, but probably Marx)

The early 60s version of Game of Life (with the sculptured game board and Art Linkletter on the money)

Hated: Monopoly

-- Gordon

11-07-2011, 08:53 PM
Being born in 1981 I'm not old enough to remember any real vintage toys; But like OBC, my favourite "vintage toy" is the Commodore 64.


11-07-2011, 08:53 PM
Vintage TV commercials:

Mr. Machine robot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgIm1mJCyRU

Great Garloo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0p0WRhAp9o&NR=1

Marx Shooting Gallery: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGPWnSCdoz8

Classic Toys 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGPWnSCdoz8
2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n56ovXGpSr0
3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7vkc2K6hvw
4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xg98ZYkv4mA

11-07-2011, 08:55 PM
I wanted one of these, maybe because it looked neato, and maybe because I had a crush on Patty Duke:


Notice the first scene with the cars driving themselves. Toys back then could do that, you know. All the commercials showed it.

(And what's wrong with the kid at 0:46?!?! Freaky dude.)

-- Gordon

11-07-2011, 09:09 PM
Lots of "artistic license" taken in those old commercials. For instance:


11-07-2011, 09:15 PM
Remco is probably why they passed all those laws against showing the toy in ways that weren't physically possible.

11-07-2011, 09:44 PM
I work with women who are promoting STEM education to girls. I just passed along that Flying Fox ad - it's hilarious at the end when the excited voiceover says

"_Every_ boy wants Remco toys! (and so do girls)". Oh, yeah, girls. Forgot about them.

Those slightly predate me, but the Marx Shooting Gallery ad is deeply embedded in my brain. I must have seen that one a million times. I could almost recite it word-for-word. "Press the switch, and it's a rapid fire machine gun. Reloads itself, too".

I had one of the Easy Show projectors with Huckleberry Hound slides, and an Aurora Model Motoring slot car set, and of course Legos. And I had an Incredible Edibles set, and my friend had Creepy Crawlers. Gobbledy-Goop - I wonder what kinds of chemicals I was eating in that stuff.

Ron Czapala
11-07-2011, 09:55 PM
I had one of these Robots and used it to harass my sisters....


and a neat Baracuda submarine (Christmas 1962).

11-07-2011, 09:56 PM
Big Trak!

For Christmas (or B-Day - only one day between the two) back in the late 70s or early 80s I received a plastic welding kit that had enough parts to build two cars -a funny car and a dragster. It had a battery operated hand held "welder" into which you would place short rods of plastic. It would spin the plastic fast enough to weld when pressed against another piece. The kit consisted of beams and panels of plastic that all had to be welded together. I though it was the coolest thing ever. So did my step dad and our hired hand (grew up on a farm). Wish I knew what it was called - although I have a faint memory that I have brought this up before... a search for "plastic welding" does not find it.

11-07-2011, 10:08 PM
SPINWELDER, Rich. By Mattel, natch... :)

$5 gets you a partial toy: http://www.shopgoodwill.com/viewItem.asp?ItemID=5915849

Or $200-250 on Ebay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Mattel-Spinwelder-Race-Car-Builder-/170684016203

11-07-2011, 10:12 PM
Lincoln Logs, Erector Sets, and Black Powder!

11-07-2011, 10:13 PM
I'm probably not even allowed to show this to you:


11-07-2011, 10:16 PM
Lincoln Logs, Erector Sets, and Black Powder!

50% Saltpeter & 50% Sugar rocks!

50% ground charcoal, 25% sulphur, 25% saltpeter... all good!

Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)
11-07-2011, 10:21 PM
50% Saltpeter & 50% Sugar rocks!
Just don't try to make solid fuel by caramelizing that mixture! ('Nearly singed my eyebrows off as a kid by making that mistake.)

I got my inspiration as a kid for making gunpowder rockets from a book I borrowed from the children's section of the public library. Can you even buy saltpeter from the drugstore any more without at least being quizzed about your intentions?


11-07-2011, 10:34 PM
Can you even buy saltpeter from the drugstore any more without at least being quizzed about your intentions?

If you're over 50 they probably assume the saltpeter is for that *other* famous use.

-- Gordon

11-07-2011, 10:36 PM
I have one of these: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eD3loVZlo08. I love it!


11-07-2011, 10:56 PM
Just don't try to make solid fuel by caramelizing that mixture! ('Nearly singed my eyebrows off as a kid by making that mistake.)

Dude! Melt the sugar first, then carefully add the saltpeter.

Can you even buy saltpeter from the drugstore any more without at least being quizzed about your intentions?

I recently found out that tree stump killer is a potential source!

11-07-2011, 11:38 PM
SPINWELDER, Rich. By Mattel, natch... :)

$5 gets you a partial toy: http://www.shopgoodwill.com/viewItem.asp?ItemID=5915849

Or $200-250 on Ebay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Mattel-Spinwelder-Race-Car-Builder-/170684016203

That's it alright, thanks!

I'll have to keep a watch out for it on eBay, $200 is a bit high.

Looks like I was wrong about it being battery operated, or perhaps the cord leads to a battery box? (nope, it leads to a 6V lantern battery) Either way, I find it amazing that I can remember something from more than 30 years ago like that.


11-07-2011, 11:47 PM
I still have the original mousetrap game with all parts in the box.

But my best toy was a radio controlled metal bus. I was about 10, so 1962. Within a few days I discovered lots of motors, etc, much to the dismay of my parents! I probably had more fun with those motors than anything else, but it would have been cheaper for my parents to just buy me some motors!!!

11-07-2011, 11:52 PM
Okay, how about this one; it was a marble type game somewhat similar to MouseTrap where you would reposition the chutes and "drums" that the marbles would bounce off of. I never owned it but played with it whenever I visited... whoever it was that had it.

And then there's Battsy Baseball. Still have that one.

11-07-2011, 11:58 PM
Bing Bang Boing? :)


Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)
11-08-2011, 12:08 AM
I want one of those! Um, to tease the cat with. Yeah, that's it, for Browser!


11-08-2011, 12:18 AM
Mattel Power Shop... Man, this was a cool toy...


And Major Matt Mason, of course...


Ron Czapala
11-08-2011, 12:19 AM
Found my Barracuda Submarine on eBay for $175 - I should have kept mine!

11-08-2011, 12:35 AM
I'm lovin' your new avatar, Ron!

11-08-2011, 12:36 AM
I had a "Rock Em Sock Em" set of fighting robots.

11-08-2011, 02:42 AM
Half my relatives worked for Marx Toys so I grew up with those toys. I don't recall the name of the toy but I had a robot from Marx that shot suction cup darts from his arm. I also remember my first Propeller, it was an actual beanie cap that launched a plastic propeller straight up :).

11-08-2011, 02:47 AM
Big Loo by Marx? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6iM5K5v6Ck

My friend had one in his basement. Big scary-looking robot, hard to believe kids wanted him!

11-08-2011, 02:57 AM
Just went to http://www.marxmuseum.com/thebigtoys.html and saw Big Loo. I believe that is what I had. What made it scarier was I believe mine was a "factory second". It was a little off color so it was to be scraped but it was rescued and brought home so I could terrorize my little brother with it :) I wish I still had it since it probably would get alot on ebay. My parent's still have my Marx Labyrinth game. It is pretty beat up but still workable.

11-08-2011, 01:42 PM
No question about it!! My top two favorite were my flexible flyer sled and my red wagon!!

11-08-2011, 04:36 PM
My favorite was Big Lou Giant Moon Robot!
Big enough to launch any kid into a robotics career!

As I remember, canon ball launching arm, range finder sight,
electric eyes, voice speech, rocket launch, two dart launcher
in chest, compass, morse code sounder, squirt canon, working
hand gripper, alert whistle, wheel push mobility, degrees of freedom
included rotating head, shoulder, hand and torso. This was the
ultimate robot and defender of your room stuff!


11-08-2011, 10:00 PM
Big Lou

That would be Loo, as in toilet.

I dimly remember it. Had to look it up on Wikipedia, where they say it cost $9.95 in 1963. I think my mother had all of $10 for the seven of us kids that year for Christmas!

-- Gordon

11-08-2011, 10:04 PM
I wish I still had it since it probably would get alot on ebay.

Apparently not. Only $976 on eBay:


Then again, there were no bids. Apparently Erco didn't find this auction in time.

-- Gordon

11-08-2011, 11:01 PM
Not a bad investment, 100x the initial cost in just 50 years.

I'm 50-ish, and I have yet to repay my parents 100x what it cost to raise me.

Maybe they shoulda bought a few Big Loos instead.

11-09-2011, 04:34 PM
Once again, not really vintage. But i used to LOVE Legos. My collection started with a few bricks and soon ballooned into a whole tub(Several feet long by a couple of feet wide and maybe a foot or more tall) FILLED with Legos. At around 18 or so i passed off the collection to my little brother, who has added even more to it. The Star Wars Legos were the best:).... Also, i don't know if you all remember the biggest fad in the Mid 90's, the Tamagotchi. Oh, man. If you didn't have one of those, you were not cool. Or so said the other second graders:)

Thinking back now, the device was really simple. It was just a little monochrome display with very limited graphics capability. You could probably make one with a Propeller.

frank freedman
11-09-2011, 11:05 PM
Legos, plain vanilla, the other (er, stuff) "options" did not exist back then.

Thingmaker!!!!! What else could simultaneously gross out the sisters and clear the house when you overcooked something.....

Erector set of course, I actually have a newer one sold by Costco a couple of years ago.

But the best, never to be seen again at home, let alone in a school even at community college level was the Gilbert chemistry set. That thing had everything that could possibly be banned by now. (would have been about 1964 or so) Parents thought I was ready for it.....

So many things, no time for a second childhood. Given the prices of some stuff on eBay, could not afford to relive it w/o hitting the lottery anyway.....Guess I will have to stick with the prop...

@Ravenkallen, Really dating ourselves there aren't we......

the Mid 90's, the Tamagotchi. Oh, man. If you didn't have one of those, you were not cool. Or so said the other second graders:smile:

Careful, geezerhood just kinda sneaks up on a guy.........


11-09-2011, 11:29 PM
Lionel's HELIOS 21


It was my older brother's but it was a BIG hit one Christmas way back when. We flew it around the living room all day.

11-09-2011, 11:51 PM

Dang, how could I forget Johnny Astro... probably because I wanted one but never got one. THE holy grail of 1960 toys...



11-10-2011, 12:34 AM
My sister had one of these...http://www.spookshows.com/toys/ogg/oddogg.htm

11-10-2011, 03:05 AM
Hope she kept it! $400 on Ebay


User Name
11-10-2011, 04:12 AM
A mere two dollars at Kmart bought my favorite toy - a Spirograph. I still have it.

11-20-2011, 03:12 AM

A classic toy. Must... resist... bidding...

Oldbitcollector (Jeff)
11-20-2011, 03:30 AM
Just fixed an NES-001 (Nintendo Entertainment System) with a new 72 pin replacement.

.... Now it's the wife's favorite vintage toy... She took over the machine during testing.. :)


11-20-2011, 10:00 AM
Goodness... So many toys, so little space! Three really come to mind as favorites though. All offerings from the Gilbert company...

One of the first was my erector set. Started a lifelong hobby of tinkering.

Next was the 80x reflector telescope. Another hobby that has followed me through the years.

Last, but certainly not least was my chemistry set. This one just got totally out of hand and there was more than one odd explosion in the neighborhood. The chemistry hobby hasn't stuck with me although I do find myself lingering, looking at the lab glassware at the nearby Frys. ;-)


11-20-2011, 10:08 AM
Dude! Melt the sugar first, then carefully add the saltpeter.

I recently found out that tree stump killer is a potential source!

From our friends at Wikipedia...


Loopy Byteloose
11-20-2011, 10:20 AM
Flexible Flyer, (aka Flexi-Flyer) the wheeled version that parents considered a death trap for very good reasons.

It was fast, it was fun. And with a low center of gravity it could really corner - but autos could never see you coming.



The chemistry set was fun and I was quite surprised that the corner drug store was willing to sell me additional sulfur and additional potassium nitrate without adult supervision.

Eventually, we found better safety in mounting the front and back ends of a steel roller skate to a 2X4 and using it as an early skateboard. Though those steel wheels didn't hold well into the corners. (Theme from M*A*S*H in the background).

http://www.flexy-racer.com/ <==== Here's a better explaination

Jorge P
11-20-2011, 10:26 AM
For me, vintage is around 1986. I was 9, i think, and Christmas was about a month away. I had a habit of trying to find out what gifts my parents bought for me so I would try and peek as my mom was wrapping gifts. I was horrified when I saw her write on the to/from card "From Santa". Right then I ran to my room and cried, I just found out that Santa wasn't real. About 20 minutes later, I heard this beeping sound, a motor, and something rolling across the floor getting closer to my bedroom door. This R2D2 like robot had, on a tray, some milk and cookies and was coming at me upon its own power. It stopped in front of my bed and asked "Would you like some Milk and Cookies?"

My eyes lit up and I was completely stunned. Mom came walking in and asked if I liked him, and of course I said yes forgetting completely about Santa. I asked what his name was and she said" OMNIBOT.

OMNIBOT is the vintage toy that sparked my interest in robotics, electronics, and programming. Every Christmas I still wish I had it.

11-20-2011, 12:02 PM
Right then I ran to my room and cried, I just found out that Santa wasn't real.

What's all this nonsense about Santa not being real?

Jorge P, don't ruin this for me!!! :P

11-20-2011, 01:22 PM

I have been thinking about entering my 20-22nd childhood (lost count) and getting one of these off ebay.

One of my favorites from early teens I guess. I thought it came out in the 70's but everything list it as an 80's toy.

Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)
11-20-2011, 03:57 PM
I had one of those Gilbert telescopes, too! Seeing the moons of Jupiter with it, and the rings around Saturn was quite a thrill. Trying to ease them into view with that rickety ball-joint mount and to keep them there long enough for others to share in my excitement was quite a challenge.


Huh. The post I was commenting on got deleted, apparently. Here's the link that was posted with it:

http://www.etsy.com/listing/48009564/vintage-space-telescope-1960-gilbert-80x Oops, never mind; it's on the previous page.

11-20-2011, 05:24 PM
I thought it came out in the 70's but everything list it as an 80's toy.


11-20-2011, 09:38 PM
Thank you for the link. That will make hacking a Big Trak a lot easier.

11-20-2011, 09:59 PM
Forget about old toys. This year's hot new item comes in a little red can. I hear it's all the rage.


11-20-2011, 11:28 PM
Somebody mentioned the SPINWELDER! I loved that thing, and it was actually useful. That one should be re-created with some of the cool plastics possible today. Back then, I actually fixed some plastic enclosures with the toy. Weld it back together, sand, primer, paint. Excellent! Now I kind of want to make one... Good call. That's in the top 5 for sure.

Being born in the late 60's, I remember:

The Atari VCS. Still have one, love it. Get a copy of KABOOM! and when you are hooked on it for life, thank me later. That game gets you to "the zone" or "trance" state quickly. It's like a zen moment, clearing the mind, all washes away and there are just bombs and buckets. This toy is iconic, and it's severe hardware limits influenced gaming, due to every title needing to run at frame for frame speed. Crisp, simple, abstract gaming.

Atari 400 / 800 computers. http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/1979toys.html Two words: "Star Raiders" I still play it today, and want to port this to Propeller...

*Any* older tube AM radio. Loved 'em as a kid, had lots of them, sold them, regret it big. To me, these were great toys, particularly when they would tune some band other than medium wave commercial, known as "AM" in the US. Hearing the BBC, Radio Moscow, and so many other global broadcasts then was incredible. Honestly, I still play with AM radios today too. Love 'em. The very first technology that appear as "magic" to me, and it connected people too. Can't beat that!

Erector Set, lego (which I still play with and have a small, fun set for my desk at work), lincoln logs. (no fun now, but I liked 'em then)

Casio Keyboards 'n Game Watches Casio made a bunch of great, cheap, "bendable" stuff. Had the calculator watch for many years. It's ugly now, but damn cool back then.

I never owned one, but a friend did: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PXL-2000

That thing was insane fun, and it needs an update too. We should be able to stuff a better image onto a good cassette... Anyway, loved that one. It's in the top 5 for sure. Rare and collectable now, or I would get one.

"Star Trek" Walkie Talkie base station. Can't seem to find a picture

Speak and Spell http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/1979toys.html (scroll down) "Bending" this thing happened way before it was trendy. A good friend and I wired all manner of pots and caps to what we called "Franken Spell", and it was awesome.

Apple ][ computers. Scored one of those just before Jobs died. Glad I did. Spent way too much time playing "Ultima" as of late. Mine is going to get a Propeller card in it at some point. Just because.

Polaroid cameras (these are still a fine idea, and I'm happy to see efforts to keep them going)

Big Wheel trikes. Oh man, wore out tire after tire. The best!

"Radio Flyer" wagons. I never understood "Radio", but that intrigue bonded me to the simple wagon instantly. Today I still wonder, but I don't want to know either. (no spoilers please, let's leave the magic in the box --thanks)

Cassette Recorders. Great fun!

A great chemistry set given to me by my Grandfather. Yes, that one included gunpowder as one of the projects. I ended up not being good with chemicals, but I loved that set, the great books, and the fun results.

Radio Shack 200 in one electronics kits. The spring wire connects were genius. Built lots of stuff, and I can admit now, I kept it for LONG after I should have, just because I could use it for circuit bending / tweaks / and just for fun.

Rubic's Cube They hit my school by storm! Got to a point where I could solve in under 2 minutes. Great toy, and I have one of those on my desk too, and no I can't even come close to that solve time anymore. But, I still like it.

11-20-2011, 11:30 PM
Re: Santa.

Well, all I can tell you is my peers who have denied Santa don't get the special "Santa" present any more. You know, the really cool, unwrapped one, with just the bow on it? The one you know is YOURS without even thinking. Yeah, Santa is a great guy. :)

He's been solid for me. I still get "Santa" presents. And I still know they are mine, and I still love them, and often they are goofy little toys.

11-20-2011, 11:43 PM
I had a chemistry set with all those dangerous ingrediaents, plus many I bought from the chemistry shop in Sydney center. A book I had desicribed how to make hydrogen, and I followed it to the letter (in my bedroom one evening). It said... put the metal in a glass bottle, add hydrochloric acid, cover the top for a short time, then uncover and light a match over the bottle and you should see a tiny explosion. I had the black soot marks on my ceiling for ages! How dangerous was that!!! Its a wonder the bottle didnt explode. Amazing I didnt get hurt! The chemistry set became an outside toy after that.

11-21-2011, 12:22 AM
Forget about old toys. This year's hot new item comes in a little red can. I hear it's all the rage.


That red Can O'Fun ain't no Silly String!