Toys and Games
Toys are far more than just playthings for children. They are fodder to a child’s imagination, a fuel for creative thoughts and manna for their inspiration.
The rag doll is as old as time itself. Often made by mothers for their daughters, a rag doll would be loved, cherished and accompany a child everywhere. Many of these dolls would be kept and treasured, even into a persons old age.
Where there is a doll, a doll’s pram normally follows. Many a future aspiring mother can be seen proudly pushing their dolly along the pavement.
A doll’s house also became a necessity for many a child. Complete with furniture and sometimes lighting.
Teddy bears are loved by both boys and girls, sometimes adults too. Toy bears have been around a long time. When the U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt nicknamed Teddy once refused to shoot a bear he captured on a hunting trip, political cartoonists coined the name Teddy Bear which stuck with this toy ever since.
Many boys would consider dolls unmanly, however call a figure a soldier and they will intently play with them for hours. Toy soldiers were once made from lead and later tin. Hence the expression “Tin Soldier”.
If a boy owned tin soldiers he often also owned a castle or a fort to house them. Normally horses and cannons completed the set.
The Diabolo, sometimes mispronounced Diablo was at one time a firm favourite with all children. An inwardly tapering reel was suspended on a line strung between two poles and then spun using an alternating whipping action. Playing with the Diabolo required developing a sense of balance and coordination to keep the reel spinning. The reel could also be tossed into the air and caught again on the line.
The simple hoop was also a great favourite with all children. Sometimes used on its own or with a wooden paddle to keep it rolling. It was also possible to skip through the ring if the hoop was large enough.
One game that appealed particularly to girls was Hopscotch. All that was required was a piece of chalk and level ground to mark a hopscotch board.
Skipping is a game with most appeal to girls. Adult male boxers and footballers also use skipping ropes to improve eye and foot coordination. With a long skipping rope it is possible for as many children as the rope will allow to skip together.
Roller skates have always held great appeal to all children. Skating helps development of enhanced balancing skills albeit the receiving of a few grazed knees or a sore bottom during the learning process.
Most children first learn to ride on a three wheeled tricycle. This does not require learning balance skills that are difficult for young children. It does however help children acquire eye and limb coordination coupled with spatial awareness to avoid bumping into objects.
Scooters are also great fun for children. The low centre of gravity also makes balance skills easy to acquire.
Spinning tops originally large wooden pear shaped balls quickly evolved into the easier to use modern top. Sometimes referred to as humming tops due to the noise they make as they spin.
Many children had a gyroscope as a toy. Its seemingly gravity defying properties are still not fully understood even today.
Bagatelle is a popular family game. Modern electronic pin-ball machines in amusement arcades have evolved from this toy.
Meccano sets proved very popular to boys, often fathers too. The ability to create almost any working model the mind could devise really exercised the mind and construction skills. It even had it’s own dedicated magazine.
Meccano kits came in all shapes and sizes and probably inspired many civil and mechanical engineers on their careers.
Train sets have always enthused boys and their father. Originally designed as hand-push toys, clockwork mechanisms were quickly added and electric versions proved most popular.
Owning a model rail layout became a passion with some enthusiasts with entire roof spaces at home becoming complex rail networks.