Toys, toys and more toys – I grew up in the 80s and 90s and received a starting pocket money of 50p a week; this was often bulked up by my aunt who would give my brothers and I money for doing small jobs on a Saturday (going to market etc). That money would be a lifeline to survive boring Saturdays when stuck at the shop with no one to play with but my imagination.
For under a pound you could pick up this fantastic envelope (yes envelope, it was pretty thin) of hard to work with modelling clay. I don’t know what it’s like today but back then it was bloody hard to work with; there was no way you could make half the things they showed on the cover. There was something oddly satisfying about peeling one track of plasticine at a time.
By the end of the day you would have one large ball of multicoloured plasticine but it had served its purpose.
At a price between 10p and 25p what you got was an army man figurine, typically around the size of an adult thumb, with parachute attached to him. You were expected to fold up his plastic parachute and throw him as hard as you could in to the air before watching him float back down to safety.
As top tier as this pocket money toy was, it was always a little disappointing seeing the soldier float down from the short distance you threw him, what we all really wanted to do was climb to the top of a tower and drop them. Ultimately their demise would always be the parachute ripping meaning your solder would fall to their death every throw.
Banger Snaps aka Fun Snaps
Little stones covered in a touch explosive and wrapped in tissue paper, what more could a kid ask for? At 25p a box you got about 50 little explosives to lob at peoples feet to make them jump. They made an incredible amount of noise for such little things plus, they had a pleasing flash if done in the dark.
I’m certain that every child tried at least one of these two things (I know I did).
- Worked up the courage to pop them using your fingers rather than throwing them on the floor.
- Emptying several into a tissue to see if you could make a bigger explosion (you couldn’t).
This would cost an entire pound coin but it would last a lot longer than many of the toys people purchased. Shaped as various weapons (atom bombs, missiles, grenades etc), the cap bomb made a much more impressive bang compared to Fun Snaps.
If you had some extra coinage on your person then you could always purchase a few extra cap gun caps to make your day even more explosion filled.
If you had a cap gun that took these then pocket money was the key to making it loud and smelly. Well, I say smelly but I loved that sulpur / firework smell they made. If you didn’t have a cap gun, these could still come in to play.
First thing you could do was to yet again, try and pop these with your fingers. Stupid but it always got the adrenaline running.
Secondly, you could unroll them and scrape a coin across the top trying to make them go off like a machine gun.
Thirdly, and this was how I got in trouble, was to wrap them around a 2 pence piece. You’d take an entire roll, wrap it around the 2p before lobbing it at the ground as hard as you could. If you were lucky, you’d get an impressive bang and the coin would be fired off in to the sky. When I did it, it landed on a near by car and I had to runaway…
Oh man, these were top tier pocket money toys and I loved them. Costing (yes, you guessed it) 25p each, you got various World War 2 era air craft to throw around the garden.
There was absolutely no need for the propellor included in all of these but it did make the plane look the part. A gentle throw was all that was needed and you’d see a graceful flight but put too much power behind a throw? Crash and the pilot was dead as it careered at high speed in to the floor.
The more you played with these, the more you realised that placing the weighted nose clip at different angles allowed the plane to do slightly different things such as climbing and falling or the loop the loop.
Games would inevitably end when the weighted nose was lost, it got trodden on or it flew over the wall in to the neighbours garden to never be seen again.
I vividly remember a small toy shop in the InShops, St Albans selling these. They were on a stand with a small TV above them playing the same advert on loop. It was never children in the adverts, always adults who had mastered the trickery of the magic worm.
Coming in at between 50p and £1, what you got was a pipecleaner with no metal, some googly eyes and a long line of fishing wire that was bound to get tangled in 5 minutes. The aim was to have the worm weave in and out of clothing, fingers and around your person using this ‘invisible’ string.
More often than not, you’d end up cutting off the circulation to your fingers by mistake and had to ask a parent to cut the string so you could release yourself.
We didn’t have slime back in the day, we had Ectoplasm and that was a lot more money than one weeks pocket money. Instead, we had the red egg of Silly Putty, a pink blob that could be squished, stretched, bounced, inflated like a balloon and used to copy newspaper print.
My favourite thing to do with this was to bounce it as hard as I could, counting how many walls, floors and ceilings I could get it to ricochet off before coming to a dead stop.
The biggest issue with Silly Putty was leaving it on the carpet.. It would slowly melt in to it and should it be trodden on, bye bye nice carpet.
There you have it, more memories of an era Rob and I loved. Did we miss anything, did you have a favourite toy or toys? Why not comment below or chuck us a message on social media.