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A history of children’s toys by Wicken Toys


What were the origins of toys? Where did their genesis begin and how did they evolve over the centuries?


Well, Greek & Roman children played with a variety of simplistic toys (some which are still recognisable to us today) such as balls, hoops and spinning tops.  These were some of the earliest toys whereas games have always existed in one form or another even amongst the earliest of children who communicated with other children this way.


Of course board games such as Chess and Backgammon go back even further and are considered the earliest games.


During the 18th century toys became mass produced in which they were cheaper to make and cheaper to buy. This was a mini-revolution of sorts in terms of both indoor and outdoor toys. Throughout the centuries children’s toys have evolved and developed including such items as;


  • Pictorial alphabet cards
  • Puzzles
  • Board games
  • Marbles
  • Magic lanterns
  • Building blocks
  • Kaleidoscope


Many of the famous toy companies actually began their businesses around the late 1800’s. Britain itself started making the definitive child’s toys in the form of the iconic toy soldiers and railway figures. The 1900’s saw the revolution of electronic toys in the form of electric train sets. Revivals in homemade toys became popular off and on throughout the 20th Century. Of course, the influence of television and film had a major effect and influence on toys in the latter half of the 20th Century and in fact turned toys into a much more commercialised product.


Toy retailers began to shift the emphasis of learning, activity and imaginative play to something much more technology based with the introduction of computer games and consoles. Within 100 years toys and playtime had forever changed.


Outdoor toys have remained popular ever since their first inception. Items such as the garden swing have been around in one form or another for centuries. The popularity of these traditional toys continues regardless of their competition in the form of interactive technologies and the Internet. Something about the charm and simplicity of these outdoor toys remains appealing to kids. While toys often go in cycles of popularity, new generations are always introduced to the world of toys from an early age with outdoor toys. Electronics and batteries have still not dented or tarnished their appeal, which is something to be said for just how much children really love to be active and use their imaginations more.


Once upon at time all a child needed to keep themselves entertained was a bag of marbles. While you may think that times have changed a lot since then, we here at Wicken Toys are keeping the spirit of traditional outdoor toys alive. Remember to give your kids some of the experiences that you cherished when you were young.

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