If I say to you “apple chime”, “chatter phone”, “snap lock beads” or “buzzy bee”… what comes to mind? How about “Little People parking garage”? Farm house? Airport? Chances are at least one of these items made you grin and say, “Awww, I had one of those!”
Growing up in Michigan in the 70s/80s, my brother and I were Fisher Price connoisseurs. We started with the little kid stuff—pull toys, rock-a-stack (those round plastic donut shaped circles) and the ever popular popcorn puller dealie. Then we graduated to the Fisher Price camera and the awesome world of Little People. My favorites were the Castle (with it’s secret trap door), the A-Frame Chalet and the Sesame Street playset…we even got a cool knock off of a Little People Holiday Inn, which we LOVED because every summer our family drove from Michigan to California and we stayed in Holiday Inns. It was like having a toy made especially for us! (although in retrospect I guess it was a little wierd….a hotel toy.)
Fisher Price toys made their debut in 1931 at the International Toy Fair in New York City in 1931. Created specifically for toddlers, the wood and metal push-pull toys were based on characters created by Margaret Evans Price (the wife of founding partner Irving Price). The whimsical toys were an immediate hit, with popular characters including Dr. Doodle, a duck dressed up in a top hat and tuxedo, and Granny Doodle. (Hey, how come he gets to be a doctor and she’s a granny?? Hmph.) By the 1950s Fisher Price had evolved their line into plastics (“I have one word for you. Plastics!” Hey, The Graduate knew what was up!) and these colorful toys took off. By 1961 they introduced their infamous Little People line and the rest, as they say, was history.
I have to warn you, this will be an image-heavy post…but I promise it won’t disappoint. I swear I could do a weekly Fisher Price column there are so many incredible toys. I couldn’t include them all, but here are some of my faves…
First up! The Airport. I looooved this. The little luggage cart. The air control tower. Also, check out the decals. Fisher Price had the cutest art work on their play sets. The little travel agency is pretty adorable…now if only there were a wee little Fisher Price airport cocktail lounge….
The barn is just as cute today as it was back then. You hear a cow moo-ing when you shut the barn door (hey, isn’t that a saying for when yer fly is down? “Shut the barn door!” or “Close your barn door before the owl flies out!” No? Anyone? Am I making this up? Hmm….)
Images: 11 and 12
The little camera was part of their youngun line. We had a more updated version (the long, flat skinny camera). I also love the birdie chime and the Lullaby TV, with sproingy antenna!
Have you ever even seen this wood-paneled station wagon?? I mean honestly….it’s like the Holy Grail of Fisher Price coolness. I think it’s super rare.
This family camper was always something I coveted. It came with a super cool BBQ set and picnic table. I also always loooved the little doggie (never mind that he should be more accurately named the Little People Big Ass Dog, as he’s clearly got a bigger head than anyone in the family).
Image: 20 (Flickr User CracklinTulip)
Ring ring! Ring ring! I love this little phone. A generation of iPhone toting tots will have no clue what this is, but it’s our job to educate ’em! (“No son, real phones didn’t have googlie eyes, but they did have these crazy-fangled things called rotary dialers.”)
I love the pull toys (that little doggie up there is my personal pup and you may recognize him from my Strawberry Lemonade blog banner!). Scored at the thrift store for $1. yay!
OH, and who didn’t love this snazzy garage?? The elevator was the best….all open-air, your Little Person perilously close to plunging to his or her death all for the sake of a parking space. WHoo hoo!
Image: 21, 22, 23 (Flickr users: galexiegirl, mamonto_70
Of course the crown jewel in any self-respecting 70s kiddo’s arsenal was when you graduated to….THE RECORD PLAYER. I can’t tell you how many hours I logged sitting on the floor of my bedroom listening to my Disney Read-A-Long Records (“You will know it is time to turn the page when you hear the chimes ring like this….”) and eventually feeling like a bad ass as I danced to ABBA and Michael Jackson.
Image: 24 (Flickr user: smalltownfun)
The best part about these toys is that they are as fun today as they were oh so many years ago! Wolfie loved playing with so many of these (and my mom, genius that she was, saved our Castle and Garage and whenever we visit them we drag them out for a fun play session). While the truly older toys are considered collectors items, you can pickup many of these cuties at garage sales, in thrift shops and on ebay. The news is, because they’re plastic (PLASTICS!) they clean up really well.
And if you do manage to score some vintage Fisher Price, do me a favor and let your kiddo play with it! While it makes for the most adorable retro nursery/playroom decor I have to say it makes me a little sad to think that they won’t have kid’s playing with them. Call me sentimental (or maybe I’ve seen Toy Story one too many times?) but I think old toys like to be played with! This photo pretty much sums it all up for me. We love Fisher Price! Happy Monday!
Image: High Steel Heels
Do you have any awesome old Fisher Price memories? Have you bought ’em for your kiddo?