Out of this World: A Brief History of the Yo-Yo

Out of this World: A Brief History of the Yo-Yo

I remember my first yo-yo: a blue Duncan Imperial. I was 7 years old and had saved up enough of my allowance to buy it. The drive to the store felt like an eternity. When I finally opened the package, the bright, shiny yo-yo smelled of plastic and felt as smooth as ice—it was perfect….

Have You Hugged a Troll Doll Lately?

Have You Hugged a Troll Doll Lately?

I first encountered troll dolls in the mid-1970s. My younger sister had one that she loved greatly and played with all the time. In fact, she played with her troll doll (named “Sloppy Joe Head”) so much that eventually all of his hair fell out and his felt clothes were torn to shreds. When we…

The History of Play-Doh: Good, Clean Fun!

The History of Play-Doh: Good, Clean Fun!

Chances are if you mention Play-Doh, your listener will know exactly to what you mean. Not only does the name elicit a mental image of the product in a small yellow can with a colorful lid, but it also evokes sensory memories: bold and vibrant colors; soft, pliable textures; an unmistakable aromatic scent; the soft…

Playmobil Play Sets

Playmobil Play Sets

In my previous blog titled I’d Like to Thank All the Little People, I described the profound impact that Fisher-Price’s Play Family had on my preschool years in the early 1970s. What I could not have realized during those formative years is that, almost 4,000 miles away in Zirndorf, Germany, another type of play set—Playmobil—was…

Art and Creativity with Lite-Brite

Art and Creativity with Lite-Brite

What is it about light that makes it so appealing as an element of play? One of my recent blogs focused upon glow-in-the-dark toys that use phosphors and a form of light emission known as photoluminescence to provide a familiar greenish glow. I also described chemiluminescence, a form of light emission dependent upon a chemical…

Novelty Items: Amusements and More!

Novelty Items: Amusements and More!

I’m a huge fan of novelty items. Currently, my office is adorned with miniature rubber ducks, librarian action figures, small stuffed animals, and other cute-funny-quirky trinkets. These make great conversation pieces and delight others, as well as amuse me. I’ve found that “novelty” is often used as a catch-all term for miscellaneous items that don’t…

Glow-in-the-Dark Toys

Glow-in-the-Dark Toys

As a kid in the late 1970s and early 80s, glow-in-the-dark toys fascinated me. During the summer months, my friends and I would play outdoors as much as we could. Even after the sun went down, we tried to cling to every moment we had to play. Toys that “lit up” in the dark furthered…

Monkeying around with Sock Monkeys

Monkeying around with Sock Monkeys

The beloved sock monkey is easily recognizable, cute, silly, and soft, but where did it originate? According to Bonnie Krauss Connelly’s book, Everything’s Coming up Sock Monkeys!: Art, History and Business of the American Sock Monkey, the classic toy’s beginnings can be traced back to Rockford, Illinois, where Swedish immigrant John Nelson settled in 1852….

Cabbage Patch Kids: A 1983 Phenomenon

Cabbage Patch Kids: A 1983 Phenomenon

As a child who preferred playing outside with sticks and leaves, only a handful of dolls ever really captured my attention. In fact, I only recall true fondness for four dolls: Baby Tenderlove, Raggedy Ann, Darci cover girl, and my Cabbage Patch Kid—Kendall Walter Winner. In 1983, at the age of 13, I wasn’t interested…

Muppets Among Us

Muppets Among Us

It’s time to play the music It’s time to light the lights It’s time to meet the Muppets on the Muppet Show tonight It’s time to put on makeup It’s time to dress up right It’s time to raise the curtain on the Muppet Show tonight Why do we always come here? I guess we’ll…