It’s fair to say I had some pretty spiffing Christmases growing up. Being in a family of seven as well, always meant that our living room on Christmas morning was a Technicolor haze of wild wrapping paper strewn abandon, like some sort of elf convention on steroids.
But we also had our traditions as well – we were always allowed one present before church, and then endured an agonising wait in our forever overheating Peugeot – named Betty for reasons best known to my dad – whilst our parents gasbagged to various friends and relations before we could finally get home to unwrap the rest of them.
It’s these memories I always think of most fondly of at this time of the year, especially with my niece and nephew who excitedly tell me about what they’re hoping to get from Santa this year. With this in mind, I thought I’d revert to my 5 year old self for this blog (pictorial evidence of actual 5 year old self napped out on Christmas Day above. I loved that jumper I’m wearing) and unwrap and recall my ultimate Christmas toys from childhood.
1. HORNBY FLYING SCOTSMAN TRAIN SET
I think I may have talked before on this blog about the Christmas when the then Thomas the Tank Engine obsessed 4 year old me got the Hornby clockwork set of Thomas with Annie and Clarabel, with an “Island of Sodor” layout set up by my dad on Christmas morning.
The following year, I got the big boy electric upgrade, with the classic 4472 LNER Flying Scotsman passenger train set. It only ever saw daylight the grand total of three times during the course of my childhood – and on all occasions under supervision from Dad (although really it was probably just an excuse for him to play too. Needless to say I still have it in our loft in supreme condition to this day.)
2. PINGU IGLOO PLAYSET
That same Christmas that the LNER’s finest steamed into my presents was also the same year I got this bad boy. Pingu was one of my favourite TV shows growing up – I watched my much loved VHS tape of it countless times over to the point that, if you are fortunate enough to meet me, I can do impressions of all the voices from it perfectly.
This playset of his igloo house from the series, along with figures of Pingu, his baby sister Pinga and Robby the Seal meant I could reenact my favourite episodes time and time again, and this was also my “before church” present that year as well. I believe my sisters all had jewellery as their “before church” present. The joys of being the only boy…
3. THUNDERBIRD / THUNDERCOP 2
People of my age will doubtless remember the eternally grinning, frighteningly insincere Stepford wife-esque Anthea Turner making Tracey Island, the headquarters of Gerry Anderson’s cult puppet series Thunderbirds, out of household items on Blue Peter in the early 90s.
I had one better however. I had the mini diecast models of the various Thunderbird rockets, but I also had this bad boy, which for some reason was renamed Thundercop 2 despite looking for all the world like the actual Thunderbird 2. An all spinning, rotating, bleeping and LED flashing haze of joy, I had many a happy hour playing with this, pretending I was one of the Tracey brothers – or Brains.
4. GUESS WHO?
I was always one for a good board game or two over the festive season when I was little – a tradition I really miss and want to bring back in some ways. And one Christmas, my godparents got me what I believe to be quite simply, the God of all board games.
MB’s Guess Who was a genius guessing game, with you and your opponent using “yes/no” questions as a process of elimination to determine who your mystery person on your tiled board was. (Mine was always Maria, on account of the fact the boy on the box pictured above looked a bit like me, 90s curtain hair and all).
5. CLOCKWORK MOUSE
This is on here purely for a funny family story – and by that I mean the stuff of legend and relentless ribbing in our house for several years after. One year – I have a feeling in one of the later childhood Christmases – myself and my sisters all got a furry white clockwork mouse, not too dissimilar to the one you see above.
I was born after Anna, our parents’ beloved Golden retriever passed away, so I, like Harmony Parker in The Queen’s Nose, was always a bit desperate for a pet of my own, to no avail despite my constant pleas to my parents.
However, I was less Harmony and more Lenny in Of Mice and Men when it came to tending for my clockwork mouse. To the point where, an hour after christening it Lawrence (after Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen from Changing Rooms), I wound the clockwork mechanism a bit too hard and broke it. Thus resulting in my sisters renaming him as “Ken Broken”, much to my 9 year old disgust.
What were your favourite Christmas toys from childhood? Leave your comments below or Tweet us @ThePensmith10 and let me know!