What toys did kids play with in the 1960s? This might be a question you ask yourself if you're trying to recall popular amusements of the decade when you were a child, or if you're from a younger generation and wonder what kept your parents entertained. Whatever your reason for wanting to know, exploring the popular toys of the 1960s can be a fun blast from the past.
The 1960s was a decade where toys really began to get interesting - lights, sounds and even politically relevant items were available for purchase in toy stores, providing kids with a whole new way to play. Certain trends, much like previous decades, came with the 1960s. Interactive games were exceptionally well-received, but instead of the typical board game, the games of the 1960s included nerve-rattling buzzers like Operation and twisting and turning interactive games like Twister. These are still enjoyed so thoroughly today that it may be difficult to believe that they were invented as long ago as 1965 and 1966, respectively.
Action figures also became popular during the 1960s, including one of the most enduring little boys' toys in the United States - G.I. Joe. Below you will find a list of some of the most popular toys of the 1960s, some of which you will remember, and others that may come as a total surprise.
What Toys Did Kids Play With In the 1960s
Easy Bake Oven
Some of today's fun toys for little homemakers started with the girls of the 1960s. The Easy Bake Oven hit toy store shelves in 1963. With this toy, future homebodies could enjoy baking various miniature treats. The first "baking" options included TV dinners of beef, peas and macaroni. This may not seem very appetizing, and manufacturer Hasbro must have realized the same thing as they quickly added the now-famous miniature Betty Crocker items in 1968.
Etch A Sketch
Another huge hit was the 1960 Etch A Sketch. With the turn of two knobs, kids created various pictures. When done with the sketch, they simple shook the toy up and down to erase and start over with a fresh design. Etch A Sketch still exists today, with either the classic knobs or with more advanced technology such as the use of a stylus, just like mom and dad.
Twister started a twisted controversy in 1966 when critics referred to it as simply being "sex in a box." As the first game to use human body parts instead of traditional game pieces, the Twister craze started when Eva Gabor played with Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. Twister was proof that something simple (it consists of a game spinner and a large plastic mat) can be uproariously popular without any special gadgets of the day.
G.I. Joe revolutionized the doll industry in 1964, as it was the first doll in existence to appeal to little boys. With a military-themed design and plenty of room for a battlefield imagination, dolls were no longer exclusively a girl's game.
Returning to the board game side of things, Operation debuted in 1965. The game featured various miniature plastic body parts, none of which were even close to being anatomically correct. With the attached pair of tweezers, the player must remove the parts without touching the edge. If they do hit the edge, a buzzer will sound and the player loses that round. Operation is still available for sale today, and continues to amuse new generations of kids with its goofy design and demanding hand-eye coordination.
Toys Gone By
Some toys of the 1960s did not survive into today's mainstream toy industry. The Tammy Doll, similar to Barbie and themed after the popular Tammy movies starring Debbie Reynolds, was gone by the late 1960s.
The Strange Change Machine was a toy that "changed" a specialized material into shapes and then back again. Dinosaurs and other members of the "lost world" came in one such set. These were manufactured through the 1970s.
When asking what toys did kids play with in the 1960s, the answer is - everything! From dolls to science fiction indulgences, the variety of toys available was impressive and fun.