The 1960’s was a time of freedom, technology, and lots of fun! Electric toys were novel and board games and dolls came flashier with more color and pizazz. So many of these popular toys developed in the 60’s stuck around until today. Some are even so iconic that they have been popular in every decade since! Kiddos of the sixties can appreciate a time before the XBOX when games needed actual players. A time when toys were used over and over again. Strap in for a trip down memory lane to see which great toys made a debut in your home growing up.
Etch A Sketch
Who can forget the etch a sketch? Comprised of magnetic powder and two knobs, this toy made every kid feel like Picasso! It was such a hit in 1960 that the factory actually stayed open to meet the production demand of stores on Christmas eve that year. In the late 80’s they came out with the etch a sketch animator. This toy featured simulated games and a low-res computer screen. The updated version never garnered the same popularity of the classic etch a sketch. The etch a sketch was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame. This guy even made an appearance in Disney and Pixar’s “Toy Story”.
Slip ‘n Slide
In 1961 the slip ‘n slide redefined summer fun! That tell-tale yellow plastic runway was the best way to cool off in the summer heat. Kids lined up to “Run, Jump, and Slide”. This meant an afternoon of splashing and sliding your way down the yard. The best part was, all you needed was a little dish soap and a hose to get the ball rolling. And even if you scraped up a knee or two in the process, it was well worth the battle wounds! The slip ‘n slide is still in production today (with a couple of extra bells and whistles of course).
Hasbro introduced the ultimate alpha male action figures in 1964. Where Ken was a “doll”, G.I. Joe’s came in all branches of the military. He was well equipped with all kinds of weaponry and uniforms. The line eventually branched into a comic book and television series. Finally in 2009, G.I. Joe made his way to the big screen in a debut film. The action figures transitioned from a 12-inch soldier to 3.75 inches in size. On the 30th anniversary of G.I. Joe, the 12-inch figurines were relaunched into production.
Everybody was a chef with Kenner’s easy bake oven. The kitschy device heated by light bulbs would cook a small cake with just the addition of water. Simple and brilliant this toy managed to evolve through the decades. The originally easy bake resembled a conventional oven. The models were reintroduced in colors and styles like the popular ovens of that time. Easy bake ovens look most like a microwave oven and can fit up to 2 pans in its trays. And yet, there was something incredibly satisfying about pushing the miniature pan through one end and receiving it ready on the mini counter top when it was done.
For all the little boys of 1963 who didn’t play with the easy bake oven, you’ve got to remember creepy crawlers! A little goo and some plastic molds made some gross and rubbery life-like bugs. Sticky, slimy, and stretchy, the machine definitely created some creepy crawlers!
Rock’em Sock’em Robots
The most iconic toy of its time! Rock’em Sock’em was the ultimate battle of strength and perseverance. Thumb dexterity and pure determination were key to the strategy of Rock’em Sock’em. With a little rage thrown in for good measure, speed and force determined the fate of your boxing career. The red and blue robots mounted on a stark yellow platform remain to be a pop culture icon even today.
By the same creators of the ever popular slip ‘n slide, comes the bounciest ball of its time. Accidentally produced by a chemist in ’64, the ball was brought to Wham-O, the toy company. He wanted to know if they had any interest in purchasing and manufacturing the product. At its height of popularity, Wham-O was manufacturing over 170,000 balls every day. Fun fact: The super popular super ball inspired the name of the NFL championship game, the Super Bowl. Even president Johnson’s staff were bouncing these buggers around the white house!
Barrel of Monkeys
The prototype to this timeless game of precision and balance was called chimp to chimp. It was inspired by the extra replacement links for snow tires. The creator of a barrel of monkeys caught himself bored and waiting for a meeting. He distracted himself during that time with catching and balancing a tray of chain links. He started with the first link on top and used it to collect the remaining links without their collapse. This was translated into monkeys with “S” shaped arms that were stored and sold in a barrel.
Flashy and fast is the name of the game! In the late 1960’s, Hot Wheels became the shining star of the toy model car industry. Matchbox cars, depicted as real life cars, could not compete with the excitement of Hot Wheels. Hot Wheels produced exciting and colorful muscle cars. The kinds of cars meant for racing! Along with the attachable racetrack pieces, Hot Wheels boomed. Nothing was more cool or sleek than the Original Sweet 16 with its red striped tire. The race tracks have gotten so elaborate with a multitude of supercharged car tracks. These pieces shoot your car forward in the race. Over 20 Hot Wheels video games have been created for gaming consoles.
Barbie’s Dream House
Barbie was the toy that had it all! A pink convertible car and a hunky boyfriend. Not to mention, every outfit imaginable and all kinds of cool accessories. But in the 1960’s Barbie got herself a dream home as well! The dream home started out as a cardboard fold out with colorful printed backgrounds. Barbie had furniture and a closet that could be placed against the backdrop. The house folded up conveniently into a carrying case with a handle on top. Over the next couple of decades, the dream house would evolve into a mansion of epic proportions. Barbie would get a swimming pool, an intercom, and loads of fully furnished rooms. But nothing could beat the original fold up cardboard dream house.