Toys & Games


In the years after Star Wars (1977), anything involving outer space, zippy interstellar craft and dangerous battles was golden. Into this arena of sci-fi fantasy came Atari’s Asteroids, one of the most enduring hits in video game history. Atari’s recipe for addiction consisted of the following: one screen, five buttons, one ship, a few UFO’s, and(…)



Californian Nolan Bushnell created a game called Pong in 1971. The following year –  with $250 of his own money and a matching investment from partner Ted Dabney –  Bushnell created Pong’s parent company. He called it Atari, a term used in the Japanese strategy game GO to politely warn an opponent that he is about to(…)


This early Atari title wasn’t exactly the black-and-white equivalent of a Swiss Alps nightmare, but it was the closest a video game could come in 1978. At the top of the screen were several rows of rocks, which could drop at any second. Your task was to manoeuvre your paddles underneath the rocks, catching them(…)


In a 1950s West German tabloid comic strip, there lived a buxom blonde character named ‘Lili’. She was very popular in two dimensions, so it figured that three dimensions – especially given those hip/waist/chest measurements – would suit her as well. Thus Lili stepped off the page and became a small doll, but with her(…)


Barney & Friends was an inane PBS children’s television show about a stuffed purple dinosaur who grows and comes to life. The series quickly developed a devoted following among pre-schoolers, who of course petitioned their parents for stuffed purple dinosaurs of their own. By the end of 1993, over three hundred million dollars in Barney merchandise(…)

Barrel of Monkeys

Lakeside Toys first introduced Barrel of Monkeys in 1966. It only took seconds to learn, but the challenge could keep players hooked for hours. Inside that plastic barrel were twelve little plastic monkeys, their little arms and hands extended so they could easily hook onto each other. The game began with the players emptying the(…)


“B-11”. “nah!” “A-3” “D’oh . . . You sunk my battleship!”. In this “classic naval combat game” the open seas were cluttered with ships of war, five on each side. But unlike real war, these nautical enemies decided to play fair, standing perfectly still and taking turns firing missiles at each other. Battleship was a(…)

Battling Tops

Battling Tops was as close to watching gladiatorial combat as most kids got (except those kids whose dads took them to illegal cockfights!). Once you sent that top into the arena of battle, all you could do was watch, cheer, and hope your little spinner was the last top standing. It was a brutal sport(…)




One of the most frustrating things about almost every pinball game is the gap between the two flippers. No matter how good players are, they will always run into a frustrating situation where all they can do is look on helplessly while the pinball shoots right between the flippers to end the turn. In 1966,(…)

Beano, The

Anxious to repeat the success of their comic, The Dandy, Scottish publishing house DC Thomson introduced The Beano just 35 weeks later. It was practically a replica of the first comic and, again, proved a great success. The front cover presented Big Eggo drawn by Dudley Dexter Watkins, who also drew The Beano’s first star, Lord Snooty, of Bunkerton Castle.(…)

Betta Bilda

Betta Bilda was made by Airfix in the 1960s and 70s Plastic bricks with stud and socket connection between rows, very similar to Lego, but with thin roof tiles connecting together by a stud and hole arrangement. Bricks came in red or white in various lengths but always one stud wide. Special wall parts include(…)

Big Jim

Big Jim was a poor cousin of GI Joe, so kids could still afford him on a newspaper delivery boy’s salary. The 9.1/2 inch Jim had a button in his back that, when you pressed it, made his arm karate chop. He also had very well crafted thigh muscles. Multiple accessories included the Big Jim Ambulance, Big(…)

Big Trak

Big Trak, the brainchild of an electronically minded Milton Bradley Company (who released Simon and Microvision during the same period), looked like a toy version of the futuristic armoured RV from Damnation Alley (1977). The squat, low and sturdy appearance of the truck had an almost militaristic feel, which was heartily reinforced by Big Trak’s ability(…)

Big Wheel

There was nothing more glorious than getting a brand new Big Wheel. And nothing as inglorious as our mothers’ mandates that we not ride in the street with the neighbourhood kids – that we were confined to the dreaded and boring back yard. But it’s not like we didn’t have a plan . . .(…)

Page 2 of 1812345...Last »