Classic Christmas Gifts for Big Kids
Everyone has a favourite toy they remember from their youth, something which made their eyes light up on Christmas morning and filled their days with fun. While we all have to grow up sometime, there's nothing wrong with a trip down memory lane, so here's a look at some great nostalgic toys from years gone by which may be perfect gifts for big kids this Christmas.
Scalextric (JD Williams Autumn/Winter 1974-75; page 255 item 11)
Scalextric first hit the shelves in the 1950s, and quickly became a favourite toy for generation after generation of young children looking for some 1:32 scale motoring mayhem. Although the track could be a pain to assemble, the transformer was often unreliable and keeping the cars on the track required a degree of self-control most kids don't possess, still we persevered time after time.
Spirograph (JD Williams Autumn/Winter 1974-75; page 258 item 5)
The brilliance of Spirograph was that it subtly combined drawing and maths; the result being intricate attractive drawings which anyone could do. Despite the precise nature of the drawing technique, Spirograph still allowed you to experiment by using different colours in the patterns - the ambitious even tried to use the machine to create their own shapes, although the results were never quite the same.
Viewmaster (JD Williams Autumn/Winter 1974-75; page 258 item 3)
Nowadays, kids have access to a virtually unlimited picture library courtesy of the internet, but in years gone by it wasn't so easy. The Viewmaster and its picture reels brought exotic places and interesting people into kids' rooms, while the style of the device made it feel like their own private viewing - a sneaky insight into another world.
Action Man (JD Williams Autumn/Winter 1974-75; page 256 item 1)
Kids love a good hero - they're at the heart of every good story. Action Man has been allowing kids to live out their heroic fantasies and be the famous war hero for nearly 50 years, transforming from one era of warfare to the next. It also made it OK for boys to play with dolls, opening up the action figure market for all kinds of different characters.
Generation Game (Oxendales Autumn/Winter 1977-78; p244 item 8)
In the 70s and 80s, gameshows were regular family viewing, and the Generation Game was perhaps the top of the pile. It had the audience in stiches as family members made a rather bad fist of various unusual games, and the board game version had a similar impact in households up and down the land. It was also a great way for the kids to get one over on mum and dad!
Tiny Sewing Machine (Oxendales Autumn/Winter 1977-78; p242 item 6)
Another on-going toy theme has been the need for kids to feel grown up by imitating adult activities, playing doctors and nurses, shopkeepers and so on. This also extending to more mundane activities, such as sewing; this tiny sewing machine allowed youngsters to join in with the tedious activity of mending hems and taking in trousers.
Talking Batmobile (Oxendales Autumn/Winter 1977-78; p241 item 11)
Before Tim Burton and then Christopher Nolan took the Batman character to a darker place, the popular image of the Caped Crusader was that of Adam West in the classic TV series. This image was the standard, and kids toys imitated it for years to come. Having a Batmobile which produced phrases such as 'Holy punctures Robin' and 'Step on it Batman' made you the envy of your friends.
Nintendo game watches (JD Williams Autumn/Winter 1992; page 292 item 7)
When Nintendo introduced characters such as Mario and Zelda to the world in the 1980s, kids were soon hooked in these worlds of hero plumbers and elf-like warriors. The Game Boy soon allowed kids to take these games mobile, but they were pricey. At the budget end of the scale was the Nintendo games watch, meaning you always had your virtual friends close to hand.
Subbuteo (JD Williams Autumn/Winter 1992; page 293 item 20)
Before video games came along, Subbuteo was top dog when it came to indoor football games. For people of a certain age you only have to mention the name to instantly create misty-eyed nostalgia; finding the Red Star Belgrade team in your local shop, gluing much fun as playing it.
Thunderbird outfit (JD Williams Autumn/Winter 1992; page 295 item 14)
Kids love dressing up as their favourite heroes, and whereas nowadays that might be Batman or Ben 10, it was once Scott or Virgil Tracy that they aspired to be. The Thunderbirds outfit actually looks like an air hostess's uniform with a Miss World sash, but for decades it was the costume for kids to wear when out on back-garden adventures.