Family

Remember these classic toys? They're still around!

By: Melissa Martz

©iStockphoto.com/empire331 Author: Canadian Living Credits: ©iStockphoto.com/empire331

Family

Remember these classic toys? They're still around!

By: Melissa Martz
It's hard to believe, but many of the classic toys you loved as a child have actually been around for 60 to 80 years – and they're still popular with your own kids today! Let's look back at some of our favourites; they're sure to bring back memories.

1. Crayola Crayons
Right up there with the lightbulb, telephone, automobile and computer, Crayola Crayons are one of the most influential inventions ever, especially for the kiddie set. We've all coloured with Crayola Crayons at some point in our childhoods, and maybe even continue to do so with our own kids.

Fun facts:
• The Crayola Company was founded in 1885 and began by producing industrial pigments for barn paint and car tires.
• By 1900 Crayola was producing slate school pencils and dustless chalk, and in 1903 the company produced its first boxes of eight coloured crayons.
• Each decade Crayola introduced more colours, starting from the original eight colours in 1903 climbing to the current array of 120 colours.
 
2. 3-D View-Master
Did you know the 3-D View-Master has been around since 1939? It's still as popular as ever as a children's toy, even though it was first marketed as an alternative to purchasing postcards as mementos at tourist attractions.

Fun facts:
• There have been 25 different models of View-Masters

• There are approximately 1.5 billion View-Master picture disks in existence, and each holds 14 images featuring everything from animals and sports to TV shows and movies.
 
3. Monopoly
The game of Monopoly dates back to 1904, when it was invented by Elizabeth Magie Phillips to illustrate the negative aspects of concentrating land in private monopolies. Little did Phillips know she would be entertaining families for years to come.

Fun facts:
• If you thought special themed editions of Monopoly – such as The Simpsons Monopoly or Nintendo Monopoly – are a recent creation, you're wrong. The first special edition Monopoly game board was produced in 1941 for Allied prisoners of war in the Second World War. The special editions were distributed by fake charity groups and hid maps, compasses, real money and other items to assist the prisoners to escape.
• Today Monopoly makes special editions for specific restaurants, cities, TV shows and movies. 
 
4. Play-Doh
Kids today love this preschool and kindergarten modeling compound – and craft staple – as much as we did growing up.

Fun facts:
• Play-Doh's base of flour, salt, boric acid and mineral oil was first manufactured as wallpaper cleaner in the 1930s.
• In 1958, Play-Doh's sales reached $3 million, and their product line at this time included the three-pack of red, yellow and blue that you can still get today.
• In 2003, the Toy Industry Association named Play-Doh to its “Century of Toys” list.
5. Slinky
There's nothing quite like the sound and sight of a Slinky making its way down a set of stairs to remind you of when you were a kid, right?

Fun facts:
• The Slinky was invented and developed by Richard James, a naval engineer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. When it was first showcased at a Philadelphia department store in November 1945, the entire inventory flew off the shelves with 400 units sold within 90 minutes.
• Before long came the Slinky Dog (who you may remember more recently from the movie Toy Story) as well as Suzie, the Slinky Worm.  

• The Slinky has since been used in the classroom as a teaching tool, in war times as a radio antenna and even in physics experiments with NASA.
• The Slinky has been inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame and is Pennsylvania's official state toy.
 
6. LEGO
Did you know that the word LEGO is an abbreviation of "leg godt," the Danish words for "play well"? How fitting!  The plastic toys we know as LEGO today were first created in the 1940s – and they continue to inspire our kids' imaginations today.

Fun facts:
• The first LEGO toys were actually wooden ducks made in 1935. 
• In 1958, the company patented the plastic interlocking stud-and-tube bricks that are still in play today.
• Since the inception of LEGO, thousands of sets have been produced with every theme imaginable.
• One of the biggest sets ever produced by LEGO was 2007's Star Wars Millennium Falcon, which had 5,195 pieces. 
 
7. Frisbee
Kids, adults and canines of all ages have played with the Frisbee for the past 50 years. A more recent twist is the high-speed throwing game Ultimate Frisbee.

Fun facts:
• The flying disc was invented by carpenter Walter Morrison, who called it the Pluto Platter. He later sold it to the company Wham-O.
• “The change to Frisbee came from the pastime of throwing the Frisbee Baking Company's pie tins, which was referred to as frisbying/frisbeeing/frisbeying,” says a Wham-O spokesperson. "Wham-O was not fond of the name Frisbee, but decided if you can't beat 'em, join 'em," she says.

8. Scrabble
Scrabble is a much-adored board game, especially among word lovers. It was created by unemployed architect Alfred M. Butts during the Depression.

Fun facts:
• At its inception Butts called his invention Lexico, but later changed it to Criss-Cross Words.
• Criss-Cross Words didn't take off, so in 1947 Butts redesigned the game and partnered with James Brunot, who renamed it Scrabble. Perseverance paid off and in 1952 the game became an overnight phenomenon.
• By the mid-1950s millions of Scrabble games had been sold. 
• Die-hard Scrabble fans can now even play the game on their cellphones with an iPhone app.

9. Mr. Potato Head 
Mr. Potato Head looks amazing for a 60-year old. His popularity began in 1952 and since then he hasn't yet stopped winning the hearts of preschoolers.

Fun facts:
• Mr. Potato Head was the first toy to be advertised on television. 
• The toy originally used a real potato (supplied by the consumer), and inventor George Lerner supplied the push pin eyes, mouths, ears and other facial features such as glasses, and mustaches. 
• In 1953 Mr. Potato Head met the love of his life and married Mrs. Potato Head. They are at the cusp of their 60th wedding anniversary. Shortly thereafter, their offspring, "small fries" followed and the family has expanded to have 30 members altogether. 
• Mr. Potato Head has been a part of the Toronto Santa Claus Parade since 2009.

Melissa Martz is a freelance writer in Kitchener, Ontario. Her work has appeared in Fire Fighting in Canada, Abilities, Edmonton's Senior Guide, Edmonton Women's Journal, Today's Bride and ParentsCanada, among other publications. 

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Remember these classic toys? They're still around!

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