Every year at this time the top 10 Christmas toy list is compiled, and looking at it I thought how bland these toys seemed – no spark to set off any imagination and they seem very flimsy. So naturally I thought back to my childhood in the 1950s. Now readers, I know you are interested in this era, but what, I imagine you are saying has it got to do with weddings.
Well, read on. If you are going to recreate the true retro look then all those little extra’s scattered around the wonderful marquees and venues and on tables to keep all those children amused need to be authentic. So I have got some wonderful little treats for you (and the groom of course) and your younger guests and indeed all your older nostalgic guests . Lets just say we all like a bit of fun.
Toys in the 1950s were a treat. You didn’t have many – you didn’t need many – it was all about using your toys to create an adventure, get your imagination skills going. So when my brothers played with Dinky Cars, they created whole streets around them. I built the houses with my Bayko building sets. My pride and joy – whatever happened to Bayko?
The boys equivalent was Meccano, an amazing metal building set with screws and nuts. You could build all sorts of things and we all spent hours constructing cranes and odd contraptions all used in our game playing stories.
Meccano, as mentioned, was a model construction system comprising re-usable metal strips, plates, angle girders, wheels, axles and gears, with nuts and bolts to connect the pieces. It enabled the building of working models and mechanical devices.
Then there were the Airfix kits. These they used as fighter planes, and I remember strange sounds coming from my two brothers as they launched their attacks.
The brand name Airfix was selected to be the first alphabetically in any toy catalogue. In 1947, Airfix introduced injection moulding, initially producing pocket combs. In 1949, it was commissioned to create a promotional model of a Ferguson TE20 tractor. The model was initially moulded in cellulose acetate plastic and hand assembled for distribution to Ferguson sales representatives. To increase sales and lower productions costs, the model was sold in kit form by Woolworth’s retail stores.
A few years later in 1954, Woolworth buyer Jim Russon suggested to Airfix that they produce a model kit of Sir Francis Drake’s Golden Hind, then being sold in North America as a ‘ship-in-a-bottle’. The kit would be made in the more stable polystyrene plastic. In order to meet Woolworth’s retail price of 2 shillings, Airfix changed the packaging from a cardboard box to a plastic bag with a paper header which also included the instructions. It was a huge success and led the company to produce new kit designs. The first aircraft kit was released in 1955, a model of the Supermarine Spitfire, in 1/72 scale.
Forts & toy soldiers formed battle lines and my brother Jonathan would literally spend all day lost in a world of knights and medieval life. He became a Writer and Actor, good training you might say.
A present at Christmas was a real big deal. However, you didn’t need expensive gifts. I spent many happy hours playing with paper dolls and creating dresses for them made out of old wallpaper books.
Marbles, Hoola Hoops and skipping ropes were to be found in all the school playgrounds too.
So here are my suggestions, a top ten list for you to keep your guests amused at your wedding – could be lots of fun?
Mr Potato Head, Jacks, Playdoh, spinning tops, yoyos, kaleidoscopes, Tiddly Winks, slinkys, comics and fifties quiz cards.
Selma x ♥