Dolls and Meccano top the bill for favourite toys over the last century

Meccano was one of the top toys.
Meccano was one of the top toys.

As part of the Toys Exhibition that is running all summer at the Bailiffgate Museum, the museum has been surveying the favourite toy of those born in each decade.

By collecting the views of visitors coming to the museum and those of residents of several local care homes, worthwhile results are already available for a whole century of toys – that is from those born in the 1910s to those born in the 2010s.

dolls topped the bill for girls for the first five decades. in the Bailiffgate Museum survey.

dolls topped the bill for girls for the first five decades. in the Bailiffgate Museum survey.

Jane Mann, a Bailiffgate volunteer, said: “We are very grateful for those taking part. We will continue to collect data but from over 500 returns already received we see some fascinating results.

“Firstly there have been a very large number of different favourite toys mentioned, over 150 to date.

“Secondly, however, some keep re-appearing. Not surprisingly amongst the girls, dolls dominated the first five decades. This changed markedly for those born in the 1960s onwards when a character element appeared.

“Toys were no longer just a dolly, but were for example Sindy, Barbie, Polly Pocket, Tiny Tears or Rainbow Bright.

Teddies at the Bailiffgate Museum

Teddies at the Bailiffgate Museum

“Television influence becomes stronger with time, so that in our latest decade Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol figures come to prominence.”

“Construction toys have always been a favourite, especially with boys, but have differed over the century. Meccano was a big favourite amongst those born in the 1940s and 1950s especially, along with Bayko, Minibrix and others.

“For those born from the 1960s onwards, however, Lego just dominates that area. Not only as a straight construction toy but also though use of character figures, Star Wars figures of course being the star of all that.

“Public perceptions change, so some favourites may not be deemed acceptable now, like a young collector of cigarette cards born in the 1930s or someone from the 1940s who loved their Golly.

“Despite worries over a more sedentary lifestyle, it is encouraging that a football emerges as a favourite toy for several in our more recent decades.

“No one at present considers a mobile phone as their favourite toy but we consider it a highly likely contender if we repeat this survey in a few more years.”

There are many more fascinating trends within the Bailiffgate Favourite Toy Survey.

To see results to date and to take part, everyone is recommended to go to Bailiffgate before the exhibition ends on Monday, September 3.

Keep up to date with events at www.bailiffgatemuseum.co.uk