What Made Me a Punkgirl – 1970s Toys

Being a punk is all about using your imagination … adapting, creating and having slightly subversive ideas that are also quite funny. When the punk idea came along – to make your own cheap outrageous fashion, or form a band when you couldn’t play, 1970s children were ready. We were ready because kids like me were already able to ‘play about’ with our toys, not just play with them.

Before then, toys had been limited – often hand-made because they were expensive in the shops. During the 1970’s materials became cheaper and more affordable in booming economies so there was an increase in moulded plastic toys. Not everything was so modern, though. A traditional ‘girls’ pastime was the cut out paper doll. The cutting would take ages, with the risk of scissor-blisters and (according to my blog-mate) the scissors ‘overheating’ and needing to rest*, so there was a lot of time to discuss the outfits and then try on different combinations. But first you had to stick the paper figure to an old cereal box and cut it out. Of course, the plucky ones amongst us would alter the clothes with felt tips or make their own, edgier versions.

Miss Haberdash nostalgia.... (With images) | Childhood memories 70s

Grandmas were always urging you to ‘do a nice jigsaw’. But that sort of closed-solution toy didn’t appeal. Instead, you could take your etch-a-sketch to Grandma’s house and she’d coo ‘isn’t it marvellous!’ the way that they do now over anything on a mobile phone.

The limitations of etch-a-sketch’s barely 2-D world meant that you had to concentrate and accept fairly rubbish versions of what you were trying to do. Pure punk!

Watch This Etch A Sketch Tell the Story of Its Inventor | Gizmodo UK

Children nowadays have a variety of dress-up costumes to wear, but a desirable toy in the 1970s was a disguise kit. Fuelled by certain children’s stories, the idea of disguising yourself as an old man with a beard, or someone with a big scar across their face seemed very appealing.

Vintage 1960's Disguise Kit - Creative Playthings | eBay listing ...

Brought up in a non-girly home, the hairdressing toys never appealed to me. The Girl’s World range of make up and styling was supposed to generate the idea of you spending hours making up and pampering yourself. Fuck that! The only friend I knew with a Super Girl’s World got into trouble for creating a wild look that included cutting off most of the hair. All ready for punk!

VINTAGE 1970s PALITOY SUPER GIRL'S WORLD MAKE-UP AND HAIR STYLING ...
  • We are not sure that the science holds out on scissors overheating. A three minute trial was conducted but proved inconclusive.

4 thoughts on “What Made Me a Punkgirl – 1970s Toys

  1. If cutting was getting too difficult (and I forgot about those cutting through cardboard blisters!), my mother would tell me to rest the scissors, to let them “cool down”. I never questioned this logic until yesterday when I relayed the whole thing to Vim. I started to talk about the letting the hot scissors cool down thing, implying that it was something that we all learned as children, only to be met with a complete blank. Now this is very unusual for Vim, Vim doesn’t draw blanks, because Vim knows all sorts of things about almost everything. If there was one person in the world who would have/should have definitely known about the scissors over-heating thing, I would have put my 10p on Vim. Now, a mere 24 hours later, I can’t believe that everything I thought I knew about warm scissors is wrong. It’s true that I have never been to the hair cutters and have them pause halfway through my haircut to change scissors, nor have I stood in line at the fabric shop watching as the haberdasher allowed her scissors to cool before filling the next order. But, somewhere in the back of my mind, against all the evidence and contrary to Vim’s scientific data, I still remember my mothers advice. It’s making me wonder what else she told me that doesn’t make any sense….everybody still remembers that sellotape doesn’t work unless you unroll it clockwise right?

    1. I clearly recall when using the small, rounded-tip children’s scissors (and excitedly cutting small shapes and tabs, etc) the friction against your hand could generate some heat if you’d been at it awhile.
      Not to mention how sore your hands could get while shoved into those round handle-openings.

      Not a very punk thing to say, but “heed your mother’s wisdom!”

  2. OMG, you just took me down memory lane!

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