Toys of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s

Time Period
1925 to Today
Domestic Life
Sports & Leisure
Virginia Sargeant Reynolds Gallery

Toys of the 50s, ’60s and ’70s closed at the Virginia Historical Society on December 31, 2017.

Gumby. Barbie. Slinky. Mr. Potato Head. Wham-O. Spirograph. Hot Wheels. The names of popular toys from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s capture the craziness, the joy, the sheer fun of being a kid. But beneath those nutty names are rich veins of nostalgia, memory, and history. The stories of the kids who played with these toys, the adults who bought them, the child-rearing experts who judged them, and the people who invented them reflect the rhythms of American life. Through this exhibition, visitors experienced the toys and their stories through three imagined living rooms that brought the decades back to life. This exhibition was produced by the Minnesota History Center.

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1950's Livingroom
The1950s living room examined how the postwar economic book affected families and toy sales.
Gumby & Pokey
Gumby originated as a clay animation character created by Art Clokey.
Mr. Potato Head
In1952, Mr. Potato Head became the first toy to be advertised on television. The kit became an immediate hit, with more than 1,000,000 sold in the first year.
Mr. Potato Head
Mr. Potato Head was was originally made as separate plastic parts with pushpins that could be stuck into a real potato or other vegetable.
Barbie debuted on March 9, 1959 at the New York Toy Fair.
1960's Livingroom
The 1960s living room examined how this fractured decade affected toy options for America's youth.
Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots
Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots was the creation of Marvin Glass & Associates in the late 1960s.
1970's Livingroom
The1970s living room examined the toys created during a time when children's time with toys was spent away from home, in the company of their peers.
Simon was introduced by Milton Bradley in 1978. The toys plays a musical sequence that you repeat by pressing colored buttons.
Star Wars Figurines
Kenner wisely picked up the licensing rights for Star Wars figures. The 12-figure set was highly prized by collectors of all ages.
Alpha-1 Ballistic Missle
The push to put an American on the moon by the end of the decade created a huge surge in toy rocket sales in the 1960s.