YAEL building blocks

At a family event a mother builds together with her children a large structure with YAEL building blocks

At a family event a mother builds together with her children a large structure with YAEL building blocks


The bland appearance of these well made wooden blocks stimulate imaginative building.

The bland appearance of these well made wooden blocks stimulate imaginative building.

A family had a lot of fun making this figure.

A family had a lot of fun making this figure.

We had eight wheeled plastic containers to house the blocks. Having such a large amount available alloed for the ability to build a large structure.

We had eight wheeled plastic containers to house the blocks. Having such a large amount available allowed for the ability to build a large structure.

Some of the blocks in their original packaging were kept in the archives.

Some of the blocks in their original packaging were kept in the archives.

Heritage Centre? Museum of Play?

Heritage Centre?  Museum of Play?

I have had on my mind how to describe our Heritage Centre of Play.

Which aspects does it share with a Museum of Play, if at all?

An established Museum of Play or of Toys and Games or of Childhood or such stuff should have no difficulty in arranging a pop-up display of toys of the last one hundred years.

I took as a measuring stick the illustrated article by Allie Townsend that appeared in TIME magazine on February 16th. 2011. You may see it here – http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/0,28757,2049243,00.html

It covers the years from 1923 to 2011 and describes 100 toys and playthings which she claims to have been the most influential.  She did not say “in U.S.A.” which she should have.The original toys are illustrated and are presented according to their year of production.

I list here the toys that we could put on show. There are some originals though most are derivatives (meaning they are the outcome of the influence engendered by those originals) and many have been produced in Israel. Lots have been “previously loved”.

Chemistry set


Pop-up books

Stuffed Mickey Mouse

Finger paint

Microscope set

Beach Ball

Toy gun

Tiny plastic soldiers

Bubble solution

Little Golden Books


Lego Building Blocks

Silly Putty

Fisher-Price Little People

Vinyl Colourforms

Paint by numbers

Mr. Potato Head

Matchbox Car

Pez Dispenser

Bendy Action  Figure



Push Toy on Stick

Hula Hoop


Troll Doll

Toy Train

Etch A Sketch

Rocking Stacking Toy


Toy Telephone

Action Men

Audio Toy

Super Bouncy Ball

Barrel of Monkeys

Radio Controlled Car

Hot Wheels Model Cars


Foam Ball for Indoors


Paddington Bear

Shrinky Dinks

Rubik’s Cube

Electronic toys

Cabbage Patch Doll

Polly Pocket

Care Bear

My Little Pony


Plush Toys

Koosh Ball

Ninja Turtle

Skip It

Glow stick

Beanie Baby

Buzz Lightyear



Magnet Toys


A Modern Problem for a Modern Grandmother

A Modern Problem for a Modern Grandmother

3D Printers and I

I am very happy that in my lifetime 3D printers will become affordable and I shall be able to make toys and games together with my grandchildren in a corner of my kitchen. I have no garage.  Maybe I should take over the small bedroom for this enterprise. We can look forward to molding sweets for parties and layering paper for board games and doll’s houses and making parts of construction sets and personalizing dolls and figures.

Might I become the enemy of the workers of the Toy Industry? I do not think so.

The Makers

Chris Anderson is part of the Maker Culture, people who make things and communicate how. In Chapter Five of his latest book ‘’Makers” is the delightfully told story of how he helped his daughters solve their desire to refurnish their doll’s house. What miniature furniture that they could buy was in no way suitable because it was the wrong scale, flimsily made or vastly expensive. He preferred, remembering previous experience with his children, not to get out his woodworking tools. However, he had a 3D printer and a computer in the house. With a few clicks they chose plans for the furniture and after some sloshing of the 3D printer the two girls had the perfect doll’s house furniture.

In his words ‘’If you are a toy company, this story should give you chills.’’

That depends, I say.

Threat to Toy Industry?

I do not think that a grandmother and her grandchildren making toys on her kitchen table shall pose a threat to an industry.  What non-professionals can produce will be no competition for well made, cleverly contrived, colourful, interesting and fashionable manufactured toys.                                                                                                                                                                               What it might lead to could be a decline in the toy market of the shoddy, the badly made and the potentially dangerous.


Look seriously at the ramifications of our relationship with this machine once it shall be in our homes. Where shall the materials be stored? (Not in the kitchen. Just the names of the stuff sound toxic). Who will regulate the safety of the materials and the product? From where will we get the plans of the toys and games that we shall want to make? Should they be free of charge or should they be tied to proprietary rights and licenses? Shall toy companies chase after their protection rights and tempt children to conspire and scorn the law?

Should not consent to the sharing of one’s ideas and not being coerced, respect and credit for another person’s innovations and efforts be in our creed?

What will be the rights of the grandmother, or grandchild, who designs new toys and sends them downstream on the www river of the net? Shall they ever get remuneration or credit? Should all this be regulated? Will the market do its work if we stand back and do nothing?

Our Expectations of Toy Manufacturers.

May we envisage that toy manufacturers shall give plans together with the toys they are selling so that children can make bits and pieces for themselves to enhance their play? Should we not be encouraging manufacturers to do this?

Not new questions. They have been asked, though not in my words, for the past few years. As yet there have been no answers that would help me.

Bears on the Ceiling

  Bears on the Ceiling

Ceilings should play their part in displaying toys.

This is a hammock of Famous Bears that constituted a quiz during our Family Events one Summer.


Who held up an airplane?
One of these bears made a family miss the boat to Israel. Which one?
One bear looks very sad. Which one? His owner left him behind in a hospital.
Which is the oldest bear?
The bear on the left was made to commemorate what event?
How many bears remind you of Coco-Cola?
Who was designed to make money?
Which bear is the most travelled?

Old Playstuff in Singapore


The business of making money from the nostalgia that is connected with toys from time past is happening in Singapore according to this article. It is a fun read with some good pictures.

Children today have glorious toys at their disposal and soon will have easy access to 3D printing machines. Why should they be given tin toys that might cut their fingers?

Most of the toys illustrated have long histories way back before the time of the parents of today’s children.

I put out reproductions of old toys with which my grandchildren may play when they come to visit. An enjoyable time is had by all.

The real old stuff is on a high shelf.

Toy of the Year 2015

Toy of the Year 2015

Toy of the Year?


I gave an airing to our box of Ugly Toys and Baddies because a Dinosaur toy won the overall Toy of the Year award at this year’s Toy Fair in New York. This toy rolls along by remote control on balls under its front legs. It has a friendly look. Dinosaurs are, once again, the “in” toy, thanks to the recently made film “Jurassic World”, the sequel to “Jurassic Park”. Besides some other technologically based dinos, herds of the plastic creatures that you will see in the film shall flood the market. They are designated collectibles.  https://www.yahoo.com/tech/the-7-coolest-toys-of-toy-fair-2015-the-111515103729.html

From 2000 to 2010 I made monster toys available for play when we had Family Events. Very few children chose to play with them.

These are from our collection of “Ugly Toys” and what I call “The Baddies”. (Except for the picture from e-bay all of the Dinos that you see in this episode are in our collection).


A herd of Dinosaur Toys from the 1980s

A herd of Dinosaur Toys from the 1980s

            Dino Toys of the 50s and 60s.

Dinosaur toy figures go back to the 50s and 60s. You can see how they looked here http://www.ebay.com/itm/1950s-1960s-Vintage-Marx-MPC-Sinclair-Nabisco-Prehistoric-Dinosaurs-Play-Set-/221301990837?&_trksid=p2056016.l4276


Cereal manufacturers copied them as premium toys to be found in their boxed breakfast foods. We learned paleontology at the breakfast table. Kellogg’s, in children’s minds, was connected with the collecting of small plastic dinosaurs each of which had its name engraved under its legs.

          The Other Kellogg and his Dinos

There was another Kellogg connected to dinos, one that few children would have heard of, Dr. Remington Kellogg. No discussion of vertebrate paleontology in the 1960s would be complete without acknowledging his contributions to that science. In 1962 he retired as Assistant Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Many years later the Smithsonian produced its own dinosaur figures. With a stretch of the imagination we may link breakfast cereal with a famous museum.

The 1980s. The Years of the Monsters

Monsters invaded toy shops in the 1980s. http://www.buzzfeed.com/briangalindo/the-14-ultimate-toy-lines-of-the-80s-for-boys#.ermXgmjok  is a nicely put account of those horrible  toys of the 1980s



Somehow they look less menacing in the pictures than in real life.

            Successful Toy Marketing Using Knowledge of Myths

Some of us can see the elements of those myths and fantasies, which have always been in the rudiments of play and storytelling, in the monster figures. It was the success of the Cabbage Patch dolls and other miserably faced dolls, so ugly that they were cute(!), which gave impetus to the marketing of the “monster” toys. We are still seeing the effect of the wide research and successful marketing of that era.

A True Story of a Young Psychologist’s Triumph using Dinos

My personal connection with dino toys began with Patrick, a ten year old who never did well in school tests. I had a project in the school in Marylebone, London, which he attended. On Fridays all the classes in the school had written spelling tests. One day it was my job to give the spelling test to his class. I knew he had a large collection of those dinos from cereal boxes and knew all their names so the words I gave were the names of the dinosaurs. Few of the other children in the class spelled “dinosaur” correctly. Not one of them could spell the names of the dinosaurs though they all ate cereals for breakfast. It was a marvelous experience for Patrick to achieve the best mark in a school test. Yes, it did affect his future school career for the good.

How I came close to a Bolt of Lightning. Another True Story

Whilst I was at that school a thunderbolt came through an open window near where I was sitting during a storm. A near-death escape. Other windows were smashed as well as a stained glass window in the church next do

Just so that you may know how to talk about dinosaurs a group of herbivorous dinosaurs are called  a herd and a group of predators a pack. The naming of animals is according to whether humans were hunting them, being hunted by them, or just watching.


I made this collection of words from descriptions of Dinosaur and of Monster figures that were either on the toy boxes or in reviews.

cute/ugly              crude           dark and deadly

myths            mystical images           symbols of evil

grotesque                                    ugly                                                gross

horror inducing                             putrid playthings

morbid                               mutants                                  monstrous

gruesome creatures           cruel events             repugnant




A Japanese Festival.

Hinamatsuri (雛祭り Hina-matsuri?)

This year the Festival falls on 3rd. March. You can read about it on these sites.



The Japanese dolls in our collection of ethnic dolls are waiting to get out of their box to celebrate .