Favourite Presents Of My Childhood

Christmas is coming on fast. Too fast.
That got me thinking about Christmas presents of my youth, and the fond memories I still have of them.

I was luckier than most. As an only child I got more than my fair share, and on birthdays too.

Sometimes, I even got a present ‘just because’.
I might have won a prize at school, helped out at home, or recovered from an illness.

Thanks once again to the Internet, I can find images of the identical toys that I received.

Fuzzy Felt was a wonderful toy, if you had the imagination to make the best of it. Pre-cut felt shapes could be stuck to the base, creating anything from a flower, to a wild animal.

My Dad made me a wooden castle when I was very young. When it got broken, I got a new plastic one for Christmas.
The great thing about such toys was that you would get the ‘extras’ to use to play with them.
I accumulated a large collection of Knights in Armour, and weapons like medieval catapults that actually fired stones.
The drawbridge and portcullis both went up and down too!

Around the same time, I also got a Farm Set for my birthday.
Within a few months, I had farm animals, tractors, and even a combine harvester!
(The camels and elephant seem rather out of place in this set though)

Along the same lines, there was a Wild West Fort.
This became home to US Cavalry soldiers and cowboys.
They fought great battles against marauding tribes of Indians on horseback.

Being a boy in the late 1950s meant I was given guns as presents.
I loved my ‘Davy Crockett’ pistol.
This was given to me for being ‘brave at the dentist’!
As well as ‘defending The Alamo’, this was also used when I wanted to be a Pirate, or Highwayman.

I later ‘upgraded’, to a Colt 45 Peacemaker that fired caps.
This was give to me in a cowboy holster, and I used to practice my ‘fast draw’.

Summer holidays meant playing outside, and along came the ‘Spud Gun’
Push the end into an ordinary potato, and you could fire a small plug of the vegetable at anyone.
We had some legendary Spud Gun battles, using large baking potatoes ‘borrowed’ from home.
(This image is American, but my one was identical)

Electronics arrived in the form of a Train Set connected to a transformer.
This was my first set, which was added to over time.
I had more track, a turntable, signal box, and a small station too.
Trouble was, my Dad used to take it over, and I ended up watching him.

The racing-car game Scalextric was a real luxury. My set was like the one shown, with contemporary Vanwall cars.
Extras were numerous, including a Pit Lane with buildings, and a Grandstand full of miniature spectators.
Sadly, as with the train set, my Dad usually ended up commandeering both cars!

Over the years, I had hundreds of toy soldiers. But my favourites were the sets of tiny soldiers sold by Airfix.
They were cheap to buy, so I could even add to them with my pocket money.
I think I must have had every set they sold, including US Civil War, Romans and Greeks, and French Foreign Legion and Arabs.
But when I got the Desert Rats and Afrika Corps duo, I built a sandpit in my bedroom, to recreate the battles of the 1940s.

Let me now about your favourite toys, in the comments.

80 thoughts on “Favourite Presents Of My Childhood

  1. I recognise a lot of these toys, Pete. I was always a dolly girl. I was talking to my dad just last night about a corncob doll making kit he got me for my birthday one year. I loved that kit and spent hours making the various dolls. Another highlight gift from me was my rag doll, which I still have, with four new ones and, of course, my Cindy dolls.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well Pete some memories there. My dad too built a wooden castle which was a big favorite but my Dinki and Corgi cars were the go to on a rainy day every time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This was a wonderful trip down memory lane, Pete! I loved Barbie dolls and my giant stuffed teddy bear, and my record player. I remember my sister’s chemistry set – no thank you. There were no Legos back then, but my husband fondly remembers similar building bricks and his beloved metal Erector set.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I wish I could remember any of these toys, as I was fighting cancer and on heavy medication in my childhood, I barely remembered my name forget toys. When I started school I used to forget so much stuff, even my name. Sorry, I don’t remember anything but it was good to see you have fun remembering old memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I too have fond memories of Christmas with my family, with one sister we enjoyed a variety of dolls, barbies, and dress up! I also remember an awesome train set which my Dad enjoyed as much as my sister and I! Great post Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I remember having fuzzy felt and a spud gun. My favourite Christmas present ever (apart from books) was a pair of roller skates. I loved them. I think I wrote a guest blog about them last year – maybe for Sally’s blog. I was never much interested in dolls but I did spend hours playing with a cardboard cutout girl and lots of paper clothes that fitted on with little tabs. I think they came with girls’ comics like the Bunty.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My cousin had those Bunty cut-out dolls. She played with them for hours. πŸ™‚
      I also had roller skates. They were ‘Jacko-Skates’, and they fixed over my normal shoes with straps. πŸ™‚
      Thanks, Mary.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Fuzzy felt, jigsaws, a garden set from Woolies with flower beds you could ‘plant’ in with a tiny spade tool. I loved that as I could buy packets of flowers with my pocket money. Lego so I could build a house to go with the garden. A real China dolls tea set, a small suitcase, and when very small a washing machine that actually washed my dolls clothes! No stereotyping going on then! Hah! My favourite was probably the bike I got when I was six. Followed by the record player when I was 12, oh and the typewriter on which I typed many poems πŸ˜…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Fuzzy felt, yes, I loved my Britains plastic farm animals, but adored even more the plastic horses, not as good as having a real horse of course. Bu my favourite was Britains miniature garden and I can still remember the Xmas morning I unwrapped it, further additions followed. I have only ever met one person, a bloke a few years younger than me, who had this toy. Following your example I looked it up and in two seconds was reading all about it. A short life in the sixties. I gave the set to my sister who still has it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s great you have such fond memories. We didn’t have the felt toys, but something similar in plastic, so the shapes and clothing etc. were cut out of plastic and could be put on the background scene and easily peeled off and moved. I forget the name right now, but perhaps someone will know–I also loved the backwards yoyo, with the halves put together facing apart instead of facing each other. I guess it was called the butterfly style and was easy for me to use for some reason, whereas a regular one was too difficult for me to handle.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Some real nostalgia there, Pete. I was never really into soldiers, although I did have a ‘Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ gun which caused some consternation when I produced it at a Sunday School ‘awayday’ I was forced (I use the word advisedly!) to go on! I think my favourite was definitely the Scalextric though. Looking back, I wonder how my Dad afforded it, as he was a single parent for a few years. Cheers, Jon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was aware that many of my presents were bought from catalogues, using the weekly payments system. It wasn’t until I was much older that I discovered how much interest payment that meant for my parents.
      Thanks, Jon.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. One of my favorite memories of Christmas growing up was each of us being given money to buy presents for each other ( there were 5 kids back then) and going to the dime store to see what we could find. The gifts were simple but fun to buy and wrap. As for me there were dolls including the ones that talked when you pulled the string and later the Barbie doll types.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. The most practical present was a “banana bike” (it got a lot of use!) and the least a 1913 quarter eagle in uncirculated condition. I don’t know what happened to the bike, but during my first marriage I had to sell the gold coin (and the rest of my coin collection) to help us stay afloat.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. “The coin was a departure from other examples of American coinage because it had no raised edges, instead featuring a design sunk into the planchet. Unfortunately, the public had much distaste for the experimental and unusual design.” (Wikipedia)
        I had an extensive coin collection that even included an 1857 Flying Eagle Penny. The quarter eagle was my favorite of all, though. It still hurts that I had to sell it. I’m pretty sure the coin dealer who bought it from me took advantage of my desperation. That coin is still out there…somewhere!

        Liked by 1 person

  13. My brothers, in Canada, had many of the same toys! I always asked for books, a stamp book, and stamps for it. One of my favourite gifts was a suitcase, which my daughter now has. I was amused at the comment that your father got more enjoyment out of the train set and later the race car set than you did. Proof that as parents we often buy our kids things we would like.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Hi Pete. We were 3 kids and, shall we say, on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. I was the oldest so I usually got the new clothes! I remember cap guns, a cowboy outfit with chaps and hat, an erector set with a small motor to build stuff and a “Space Cadet” base camp on Mars. The fv show was popular at the time with kids. As I got older Mom and dad bought me a complete encyclopedia for my use rather than have to walk to the library for homework assignments. They sacrificed for it and my mom carried it home in a cardboard box all the way from Manhattan to Brooklyn on the subway. I treasured those books. Best regards.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I had Fuzzy Felt, and hornby trains, and scalextric πŸ™‚ and lots of different Corgi cars- the Batmobile being a notable one. Also a complete red Dalek suit, (that was one of my favourite as I could wear it and run up and down our street terminating the neighbours πŸ˜€ ) and Sindy & Tressy dolls and accessories, and a Tiny Tears doll which cried when you upended her, and you could give it a bottle too. I preferred playing with cars though πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  16. We also used to have fuzzy felt and cowboy cap guns, and my brother had Scalextrix. We also had LEGO (just basic bricks and windows at the time), but my favorite thing was books

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was a little too old for Lego, but enjoyed playing with it when younger relatives got sets as gifts. πŸ™‚
      I had books too of course.
      But I had mentioned many early book gifts previously here, so left them out this time.
      Thanks, Marina.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  17. I still have my favorite toy Piano when I was a kid. It was a favorite gift from my aunt. I also remember a toy I wished I had back when I was a child and I managed to track it on ebay and bought it even if it costs 50 euros including shipping. It was the Vintage 1970’s Kameny Dollhouse bedroom Set. My friend was laughing at me for spending that amount for an old toy but she’ll never know how badly I wanted it when I was young. Hahaha!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I got lots of military toys….everyone in my family fought in WW2 so they passed on the war mongering to me…..later I got science stuff….microscope, chemistry set and a dissection kit and of course books….lots of books…my favorite book back then was a World Almanac and I still get one every year……chuq

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I got a Meccano crane set one year. But like the Airfix construction models, I think my Dad just bought it for himself. I had to sit and watch him one Sunday afternoon as he bolted the crane together, then showed me how it worked. After that, it sat on a shelf in my bedroom, with strict instructions not to take it apart.
      I didn’t have a chemistry set. Probably why I was never any good at chemistry at school. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  19. Well now all I can say is – lucky bu**er. Being born well after war ended you did well😎
    Us ‘war babies’ were given what was available – often recycled. I do remember when I was a little older and things were easier books were my favourite gifts.

    Liked by 2 people

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