Baby Boomer Toys – Then and Now

Rockem Sockem Robots

Baby Boomer Toys – Then
I’m thinking back to one particular holiday season; oh, it must have been about 1959, which would have made me about six years old. My younger brother and I were two little Jewish kids (whatever that meant) and we used to hang out with Ricky, the kid up the street who was Christian. This was the year we discovered the difference between Christmas and Chanukah.gift03

So, we’re standing in the  breezeway between our house and the house next door, the day after the first night of Chanukah, explaining Ricky how we get a present every night for eight days and sharing our Chanukah gelt with him. Chanukah gelt, of course, is delicious chocolate money wrapped in gold foil to look like coins. Chanukah came early that year, so Ricky still hadn’t gotten ANY  presents yet, however, Ricky didn’t seem too concerned or impressed by our gelt. Still, we felt kind of bad for Ricky because his holiday only lasted for 24 hours. Poor kid.

The next few nights went by and we continued to rake in the gelt and some really cool presents. Dad got us a new transformer for our little Lionel train set which fascinated us as it sent the little train cars choo-choo-ing around the little track in circles.

Oh and we each got a wooden paddle with a rubber ball attached by a rubber long rubber. We used to love those, until we discovered the real reason mom and dad bought them. They loved those paddles almost as much as we did. Because once that  band snapped, the paddles were useless to us kids. But my folks were just beginning to get use out of them, which we found out the first time one of us kids misbehaved.


We also each got a Slinky and an egg. Inside the egg was this amazing substance called Silly Putty. I saw on the commercial how you could “break it like a biscuit” or stretch it out like taffy, bounce it higher than a rubber ball, but the property I couldn’t wait to try out was how you could flatten it out and press it against an image in the newspaper and it would lift the image right off the page. Of course the first thing I did was to try it on Dick Tracy’s face and stretch it all out of shape. Yeah, we sure were easily entertained. At least we were until Christmas Day.

We had never been in Ricky’s house before. So wen we entered is parents house that lovely Christmas morning, it was like walking into another dimension. There was a big tree with tinsel and all kinds of decorations and an angel light on top. The whole house smelled like a bakery, Ricky’s mom and dad were all smiley and they greeted us warmly as we followed Ricky down into their recreation room to see his presents. Oh man, did I stop feeling bad for him in a hurry.

In the center of the room was a bigger train set I than I could have imagined. It went in a figure eight, and there was a train station with a stop light and little people figures of passengers, and a little engineer guy. Fake snow, fake grass, a fake pond. Turns out this was form LAST Christmas.

So then he shows us the new stuff. Silly Putty and a Slinky were just for starters. He got an electric football game that vibrated when you hit the switch and the players would move.He got a race track and race cars, but what we were most in awe of… yup, you guessed it. Rockem Sockem Robots!!! RIcky, you lucky little #@%@^rockem_sockem

Oh, did I mention Ricky had a sister, Catherine?  Naturally, She got a Chatty Cathy doll and an Easy bake Oven. This was all in ONE day. That was the last time I ever bragged about having eight days of anything.

Baby Boomer Toys –  Now

So recently, I got to wondering about baby boomer toys – then and now. Which toys were popular when I was a kid are kids still playing with today (I’m talking about the ones they are still manufacturing, not collectors edition. They will be the topic for another time).

So far, I find you can still get a lot of those toys. Some are exactly the same, others have evolved over the years, like the Barbie Doll. They still have G.I. Joe. You can still find Slinky, Silly Putty, Chatty Cathy, Rockem Sockem Robots.

Now, I pose this question to all you parents and grandparents who have shopped for kids lately: What were some of your favorite toys growing up and of them, which are still popular with your children and grandchildren.  Comments are welcome and, in fact, encouraged!



  1. Carol

    Lots of good memories, Hal… Barbie and Barbie game. Chatty Cathy. Becky Crocker kitchen set with oven and real recipe box with ingredients. Etch-a-Sketch, which is still available and was enjoyed by my daughter and now grandsons. Slinky, with same generational enjoyment. Silly Putty. Archie comics. Jacks and pick-up sticks.

    Your parents were more generous than mine at Chanukah. One present per night was unheard of in my house! They told me that the joy was in lighting the candles and celebrating the holiday, so I maybe received a bag of gelt and a book. They also said they didn’t want me to compete with the “goyim” for presents. I counted on Chanukah parties and grab-bags for the rest, and apparently so did they. We did something similar with our daughter, and today she’s a rebittzen. Go figure.

    You’ve been busy with your website. Looks good!

    1. Hal

      Thanks, Carol. I’m about to add a discussion forum. Just trying to find the right program for my idea of how it should look and function.

  2. JD Loveland

    had a bolo paddle and a rock-em sockem. Love the site Hal, Keep going!

    1. Hal (Post author)

      Thanks, JD! Hey man, I finally posted my Squatty Potty review. Let me know what you think!

    2. randi

      . I loved my easy bake oven..i had a special ballerina doll that was about 18-24 inches high… when you twisted her pink crown she would turn like a ballerina,i loved that doll

      1. Hal (Post author)

        I remember little girls always had those little ballerina music boxes. I’m sure they’re still around. Or they get passed down from generation to generation. Long after the wind up spring has broken.

  3. Duane [timeout58] English

    Hey Hal! Love the website, but I’m biased cuz I was born in ’58…

    Nowdays kids don’t have toys, they have ‘gadgets’ – almost everything they cherish needs batteries. It seems kinda sad to me when I see a two-year-old child playing with an imitation cell phone. It’s like we are teaching them to use adult things before they can even tie their shoes.

    My very favorite toy ever was Mouse Trap, I just loved all the mechanical goings on….

    Put you on my bookmarks list so I’ll be back. Keep up the good work!

    Best of Luck,

    Duane English

    1. Hal (Post author)

      Mousetrap was cool. I loved all of those Rube Goldberg style contraptions. I still enjoy them to this day. Have you ever seen the Honda video ad? If you like Mousetrap, you’ll LOVE this!


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