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Retro Toys: Toys That Highlighted Playtime in the 1950s

Toys have always been a major part of kids’ leisure time– adults even love some. The 1950s was a ‘golden age’ for toys. Many toy innovations would go on to keep several generations entertained. Whether or not you were a kid in the 1950s, these toys will show you what fun was then; some of these toys still exist today!


This product was originally a wallpaper cleaner. A teacher asked her students to use the cleaner as makeshift clay when the product’s sales significantly dropped. This changed the story of the dough and its manufacturing company, Kutol Products.

Courtesy: MeTV

The company created a subsidiary and recreated the dough as Play-Doh. In 1957, Play-Doh was in blue, red, and yellow colors. The toy’s sales and popularity went even higher after Bob Keeshan featured it on his TV show. Play-Doh is still well-loved today.


Gumby is an unforgettable toy that became an iconic character. Gumby is a green clay character initially created for Gumbasia, a 1953 short film by Art Clokey. After the show, the green toy became a beloved character for kids and TV executives.

Courtesy: Pinterest

This wide acceptance brought about Clokey’s show, The Gumby Show. This show raised the need for retail production. The green bendable Gumby toys hit the market in 1955. To date, kids still adore Gumby for his friendly disposition and amazing flexibility.

Tonka Truck

These toys are some of the most famous 1950s toys. Tonka Trucks are small lifelike vehicles that kids play make-believe with. In 1955, the first Tonka product, a pickup truck, was released into the market. Interestingly, the name, Tonka Truck, wasn’t just random.

Courtesy: Pinterest

Tonka Trucks were produced by a Minnesota company specializing in making small garden implements; the name came from the Minnesota Lake Minnetonka. The family toy trucks entered the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2001. Although Hasbro now owns the company,  Tonka Trucks are still selling.

Magic 8 Ball

Although this toy was created in the 1940s, it didn’t become popular until the 1950s, after the creator (Albert Carter)’s lifetime. Originally created as a crystal ball called Syco-Seer, a Chicago billiards company commissioned the creator’s brother-in-law to convert it into an eight ball.

Courtesy: Pinterest

From being a promotional tool, the product became well-loved by kids. Kids began to use the ball, with its floating 20-sides containing answers to life questions. This led to the remarketing of the Magic 8 Ball as a toy. Kids love the thrill of getting answers to their questions at the back.


In the 1950s, two art students created Colorforms. It was marketed and sold as a resource for art students. Soon after, it became generally accepted as a kid’s toy. The manual dexterity Colorforms provided made them one of the most famous in the 50s.

Courtesy: Pinterest

Made from die-cut, thin vinyl, kids attach Colorforms to smooth surfaces and make desired scenes with them. This creative expression wasn’t only loved by children; adults loved it too. Although the popularity has significantly dropped, Colorforms are still available in many stores.

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