Toys & Games

Captain Action

With a change of clothes and mask, Captain Action could alter his identity into some of the mightiest heroes on the planet. The basic 1966 Captain Action figure came with a form-fitting captain’s outfit, a sword, and a ray gun, making Captain Action ready to fight both ancient Romans and futuristic aliens. Alone, the Captain(…)


Battery-powered thing from Matchbox which launched ball-bearings onto 3 bouncy drums in succession and then onto a scoring receptacle at the other end. The ball would then (in theory) return to the electric elevator via a 3-foot plastic track . Inevitably ‘went wrong’ eventually – The bounce went ‘off’ for some reason and you’d lose the ball(…)


Young boys have always been fascinated with war toys, but most were just that: toys. No matter how fancy that cap gun got, it still only shot caps. BB guns and air rifles were a step up for kids who were allowed to play with them, but even these were mere kid-sized copies of the(…)

Chatty Cathy

Dolls were always good for lending a listening ear after a tough day at preschool, but Chatty Cathy actually talked back. Tired of having to carry on the entire conversation by yourself at tea parties? Let Chatty Cathy take some of the social weight off your shoulders. Of course, the conversation would end up something(…)


The board game’s inventor was a British law clerk named Anthony Pratt, who dreamt it up circa 1947, while walking his beat as a wartime fire warden in Leeds. When the bombs weren’t dropping, social sets used to gather in one another’s homes for a parlour game called “Murder”, in which guests would creep around(…)

Colorform Aliens

In 1968, the Colorform company made a bold attempt at cracking the action figure market with a set of seven bendable rubber “Outer Space Men,” each named after a different planet in Earth’s solar system. Although the toy line was not initially successful, the innovative and fantastical design made lasting impressions on those children who(…)


In the early 1950s, a company called Colorforms hit the educational toy market with their eponymous products. The original sets contained basic shapes or letter and number decals, all in bright prime colours. The decals were made of paper-thin plastic, easy to press onto the Colorform playboard that came in the box, and just as(…)

Computer Space

The history of coin-operated video arcade games began not with a whimper, but with several explosive bangs, rendered in simple black-and-white graphics by a young tech whiz named Nolan Bushnell. Introfuced in 1971, Computer Space was the first of its kind, a stand-alone computer console dedicated to a single purpose: game playing. Inspired by the(…)


Conkers are the hard fruit of the Horse Chestnut tree. These are collected in autumn (we used to throw sticks up the trees to knock down the Horse Chestnuts), removed from their spiky casing and left to mature. A hole is then drilled in the conker (we used to use the tool on the pen(…)


Designed for pre-schoolers, Cootie (or Beetle as it was known in the UK, where the word “Cootie” has no meaning whatsoever) hit its mark with fun play, colourful parts, and bugs! Each Cootie/Beetle box came with enough parts to make 4 complete bugs. A roll of the die was the only way to build your(…)

Corgi Toys

As with many great British companies, the origins of Corgi lie overseas. In 1933 Philip Ullman, head of Tippco – a very successful German toy company – moved to Britain. Initially he worked as a subcontractor to other toy-makers but in 1936 he decided to set up his own company, Mettoy, in Northampton. In 1946(…)

Crayola crayons

In 1885, cousins Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith took over the Peekskill Chemical Company in the US, named it Binney & Smith, and busily manufactured the pigments that made most barns of the time red, and a lot of automobile tyres black. The company also catered for the educational market, developing slate pencils and(…)

Crazy Foam


Creepy Crawlers

Creepy Crawlers were the first species to emerge from Mattel’s ‘Thingmaker‘ concept – other do-it-yourself kits would follow in the decades to come, like the Incredible Edibles and the Custom Car Factory. The Creepy Crawler set came with an oven, a cooling pan, tongs, different colours of “plastigoop”, and metal moulds. In some of the(…)

Criss Cross Pop Up

If you were tired of scratching out tic-tac-toe games on sweaty notebook paper that you passed back and forth in the middle of history class, this 1965 Chicago Coin game was just the thing. According to Criss Cross Pop Up’s flyer, a player was granted “ten exciting, thought-provoking” shots per game . . . and(…)