If you are over the age of 40 (or preferably 50), and grew up watching Saturday morning TV, then you were barraged with thousands of commercials for toys.
Expensive toys, sometimes . . .and sometimes toys that could be had for just a boxtop from a cereal package and a dime.
For kids who have grown up in world dominated by MP3 players, computers, and video games . . . the toys the older generation grew up with must seem both simplistic and, at times, even barbaric.
Toy guns were a huge part of the toy market in the 1950s and 1960s, with cowboy cap pistols and rifles eventually giving way to James Bond/Man From UNCLE spy gear (I desperately coveted the Secret Sam Spy Briefcase, but never got one).
The space race made futuristic rocket ships, moon bases, and orbiting space stations a huge draw as well.
My brother and I were both so enthralled by the commercials for the X-500 Rocket Base that our parents realized our Christmas would be a huge disappointment without it.
Unfortunately, we quickly learned that it’s ability to shoot down incoming missiles (as shown in the TV ads) was decidedly less than advertised. A valuable lesson for a pair of 6 year-olds.
My folks bought a Great Garloo, although they used it mostly to serve drinks at parties.
And in a bit of infamous family history, my parents bought us a Marx-a-Copter one Christmas in the 1960’s – a toy helicopter that was tethered to a base and would fly in circles, hover, and reverse. With some practice, you could pick up an object using a hook.
(A 1970s version of the Marx-a-copter)
It was, however – in my Dad’s opinion – a bit underpowered.
On Christmas morning he decided to replace the battery pack with a train transformer (providing variable voltage). The copter flew like mad!
For about 20 seconds . . . .
Then the motor burned up. So much for the `big’ Christmas gift that year. Another valuable Christmas lesson learned.
Don’t let Dad play with your toys. . . .
Today’s offering is a terrific hour long compilation of toy commercials from the 1950s and 1960s entitled Batteries Not Included put together and uploaded to the Internet Archive by Jon Behrens.
You may also recognize some budding child actors and actresses in these vintage commercials, including Billy Mummy who starred in Lost In Space, and numerous TV shows (and even a few movies) in the 1960s.