Retro Toys: Old Favourites Then And Now

Like if this guide is helpful

Over the decades there have been iconic toys that stood out and remained popular – little gems among the forgettable others. Take a trip down memory lane and look at play days past and how these toys have evolved to keep up with the times. 
Will chalk develop into virtual calcium carbonate?
Link to an eBay page Remove
Add up to 3 more photos
Link to an eBay page
Will chalk develop into virtual calcium carbonate?

Pre-1960s

Chalk and cheese
Chalk is a simple substance – calcium carbonate, or CaCO3 in chemical terms – behind many imaginative outdoor games. Humble chalk was used to draw grids or spirals for hopscotch, to play noughts and crosses on the pavement or to create street art that simply washed away. Chase games like 'hare and hounds', where the 'hare' runs ahead of the chasing pack leaving chalk arrows and other clues to their whereabouts, were firm favourites with generations of kids. The same game has evolved with handheld GPS systems and the addition of GPS and mapping to mobile phones into activities such as geocaching, or organised treasure hunts using GPS. That is not to say that the humble stick of chalk has been dropped. It is still used in street games, to leave clues for chasers and to mark an X where treasure may be buried.
The inspiration for Oculus Rift?
Link to an eBay page Remove
Add up to 3 more photos
Link to an eBay page
The inspiration for Oculus Rift?
View-Master General
Formatted stereoscopic viewers were first produced under the name View-Master in 1939. The viewers, which originally showed photographic postcard views in stereo, were to become retro icons finished in bright red plastic. Inventor Ed Mayer built the company out of a photo-finishing business, but soon saw the View-Master's potential in children's entertainment. Reels for children's cartoons, film favourites and television shows were produced, but also a 3D version, NASA moon landing reels, a 25-volume atlas of human anatomy and a Discovery Channel viewer. Stereoscopic view were among the first 'virtual reality' experiences and their influence can clearly be seen in virtual video glasses today and other viewers, such as the Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard. In fact, look at View-Master's Interactive Vision console game of the 80s, which used VHS and video games, for a direct link between the original and virtual reality systems.
Inspired by the swirly sixties
Link to an eBay page Remove
Add up to 3 more photos
Link to an eBay page
Inspired by the swirly sixties

1960s

Spirograph Whirls
When Spirograph hit the shelves in 1965 it sparked a swirly art revolution in homes around the world. Each set contained two plastic rings, large and small, plus a plastic rod that could be pinned to cardboard backing. A series of smaller gear wheels could then be rotated around the rings or rod (all had gear teeth which meshed together) by placing a pen or pencil in one of many small drawing holes in the wheels. As the wheels turned an intricate pattern was produced and the artist could then use a different colour, hole or wheel size to make another pattern once that was complete. Spirograph required patience and a steady hand to get the best out of it but the results could be spectacular. Modern sets use putty or magnetic pieces instead of pins to fix the pieces in place and embrace innovations such as 3D designs, card-making sets, a string art version and a canvas painting set to create complex masterpieces. 
Is there anyone who hasn't trumped?
Link to an eBay page Remove
Add up to 3 more photos
Link to an eBay page
Is there anyone who hasn't trumped?

Top Trumps
Getting one up on friends and family, or 'one-upmanship', is a guilty pleasure. Top Trumps is a simple card game that celebrates one-upmanship. Originally devised as the card game 'Quartets' by Austrian company Piatnik in the 1960s, other companies then took the concept of using 'trumps' (higher value cards) to take all the other players' cards and developed specially theme cards, such as racing cars and military vehicles, giving each relative strengths based on characteristics like engine size, power or speed. Themes were expanded over the years to include sports, wildlife, comics and entertainment themes such as The Simpsons, Harry Potter and The X Factor, with more categories besides basic statistics and numerical values. Add to that a Top Trumps LIVE online game, a mobile phone app and console games and it is obvious that the original idea has evolved from simple cards into a thriving multimedia game experience.
Rubik's Cube – can you do it?
Link to an eBay page Remove
Add up to 3 more photos
Link to an eBay page
Rubik's Cube – can you do it?

1970s

Rubik's Puzzler
Hungarian sculptor and architecture professor Erno Rubik could not have guessed the impact his Rubik's Cube puzzle would have on the world when he invented it in 1974. This multicoloured rotating cube has spawned world championships, robots designed to solve the cube in seconds and an ever-growing number of off-shoot games and puzzles based on the original. In the 1970s and 80s it was hard to switch on the television without seeing the latest kid genius who had solved the cube in record time or could one in each hand. As a result more fiendishly difficult puzzles were created (including a dodecahedron version) and variations like the Rubik's Zigzaw puzzle. Erno himself released the Rubik's 360 puzzle in 2009 showing that there was still life in the old dog. 
Big Track... early domestic robot
Link to an eBay page Remove
Add up to 3 more photos
Link to an eBay page
Big Track... early domestic robot
Making Big Tracks
Robots were basic in the 1970s. They either built cars in factories or looked shiny and talked nonsense in science fiction films like Star Wars. So when Milton Bradley devised the programmable Big Trak toy vehicle in 1979 it ushered in an era of domestic robots to do our bidding. Okay, Big Trak was basic too. It was a six-wheeled space-age tank with a keypad for inputting 16 movement commands that it would then complete in sequence. Add to that a trailer to carry things and dump them out on command and the experience was complete. This cult toy was reintroduced in 2010 with shiny new LEDs and electronics and now updated versions for use with smartphones, computers and tablets are in the pipeline. 
Nice pants, He-Man
Link to an eBay page Remove
Add up to 3 more photos
Link to an eBay page
Nice pants, He-Man

1980s

He-Man Rules
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, to give it its full grand title, was an American animated series broadcast in 1983 featuring the adventures of Prince Adam. When Adam drew his sword and called on the power of Grayskull – his fortress – he transformed into the mighty He-Man, defending his realm from the evil Skeletor. An entire toy franchise evolved out of the show's characters, including a female version and series: She-Ra, Princess of Power. Figures and accessories have been updated along with newer versions of the show over the years and it continues to be popular with young children. In 2012 DC Comics started publishing a digital comic series exploring the story of He-Man and his exploits, expanding the original and exploring the characters in more depth.
Yep, it changed the word 'game' forever
Link to an eBay page Remove
Add up to 3 more photos
Link to an eBay page
Yep, it changed the word 'game' forever

Gameboys and Girls
Atari may have ruled the 1970s in console terms, but the 80s and 90s belonged to Japanese company Nintendo. Gameboy changed the way people approached consoles forever for one reason: it brought electronic gaming into the palm of your hand. When it was released in 1989 the Gameboy console was paired with iconic and ultra-addictive puzzle game Tetris in a double whammy of gameplay deliciousness. Despite having a monochrome LCD screen only 160 x 144 pixels in size, the Gameboy sold in unbelievable numbers due to its ability to fit in a bag or backpack easily and its range of cartridge games. Nintendo's subsequent Gameboy releases included the Light, the Advance and the Colour. Since then the company has turned to its DS and 3DS to build on that legacy and improve both the quality and variety of gameplaying options, but the Gameboy remains a classic.
Is it an egg? A watch? A pet?
Link to an eBay page Remove
Add up to 3 more photos
Link to an eBay page
Is it an egg? A watch? A pet?

1990s

Tamagotchi Pets
Digital pets were all the rage in 1996 when Bandai first launched the Tamagotchi. The name itself was a combination of the Japanese words for egg (tamago) and watch (uotchi), which perfectly described these little handheld oval games. Each one contained a virtual pet that the owner would raise and interact with, going through distinct life cycles, before laying an egg and dying. Later models introduced infrared connectivity, the ability to make friends, mate and have families. Spin-offs and updates have happened regularly since including figurines, films and animations, console games and, in 2013, Android and Apple Tamagotchi for smartphone and tablet. Raising an electronic pet appears to be an enduring attraction.
It talks, talks, and talks...
Link to an eBay page Remove
Add up to 3 more photos
Link to an eBay page
It talks, talks, and talks...

Furby Friends
On the theme of electronic pets, a must-have toy of the 1990s was a small furry robot with the ability to speak and learn language, called the Furby. Big ears, cute eyes and a plastic beak, the Furby was a runaway success on its launch. In the first three years more than 40 million were sold. People became attached because of their speaking abilities, in-built games and reaction to touch – they speak more when petted. Limited edition Furbies over the years have become collectors items. In 2005 a new 'emoto-tronic' version was released with voice recognition built in, followed by a 2012 version with Android and iOS apps that adapted its personality to owner behaviour. Then in 2013 the Furby BOOM was introduced with new colours, games and personalities, proving the original was no flash in the pan. Furby looks like it may be here to stay.
Have something to share, create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides