Saturday, 31 March 2012

Adventures with old stuff

I am very, very excited.
Very excited.

Following on from my NCT sale bargain Fisher Price campervan, which went down extremely well with Thomas, I did a bit of casual Ebay searching for old  Fisher Price and Playmobil toys (I refuse to call them “vintage” because it’s just a bit, well, wanky really) that I remember from the 70s and 80s.

And there it was.

Amongst the Playmobil pirate ships and Fisher Price airports I found something that made me bounce up and down and squeal a little bit.  I nearly scrolled straight past it, but something about the little picture must have registered and I backed up and clicked on the link.
It was the mysterious green plastic tile toy that I have been whinging about since Thomas was old enough to start playing with “proper” toys.  I had a very clear memory of a toy that I loved as a child.  All I could remember was that it had a series of green plastic tiles with cogs that locked together and turned with a handle, setting some sort of playground equipment in motion.  I couldn’t remember exactly what it looked like or what brand it was but I knew I wanted it for Thomas, but I couldn’t find it. 

My google search terms became increasingly complex:
            Green plastic tiles vintage playground toy cogs handle round turn

            Green jigsaw plastic playground cog handle toy 70s roundabout
            Tile game 70s playground cogs turn with handle green patterns fairground playground   
             roundabout ferris wheel green toy 70s 80s bloody hell just tell me what this is

But there it was.  On Ebay.  Being offered for sale by someone slightly bemused about its provenance -  The only markings I can find on this playset is the brand "Bandai", Japan so I have no idea what this was originally called”.

Suddenly it became clear.  My granddad was a merchant navy captain and regularly brought home unusual toys or gifts from overseas.  He must have brought this back from Japan for me, which is probably why I have never seen it anywhere else.  But wherever it came from, I had to have it.  It is now winging its way to me and I may actually explode with excitement.
The only problem is that this old toy hunting is addictive.  There are so many toys that I now want to track down.  I am willing to consider the possibility that the rose-tinted specs are colouring my slightly fuzzy, soft-focus hindsight, but toys seemed so much better back then.   Does anyone remember the Palitoy treehouse?  I spent many a happy hour playing with this, although the family in mine was incomplete as the little plastic boy had somehow managed to finish up underneath the lift where he rattled around for the rest of my ownership of this toy.  I could never figure out how he had got down there, but now, with a small boy of my own rampaging around the house, I can understand it.  I assume the naughty step in plastic world was no longer doing the trick and plastic boy-child found himself being stuffed down the lift-shaft by his long-suffering plastic parents.

And Playmobil.  I loved Playmobil.  My bedroom was populated with little bendy people, clad in their primary coloured uniforms, like some kind of extreme, and strangely cheery, communist horde who indulged in strange, cross-cultural encounters.  Like the unfortunate incident when the medieval knights stole the hats from the pirates and much carnage and destruction ensued.  Fortunately the cowboys remained strictly neutral and were able to ferry the wounded to the operating theatre by covered wagon.  Unfortunately the theatre staff had to operate under appalling, open-air conditions since my mum had declined to give into my nagging for the rest of the hospital set.  This was the cause of much plastic suffering.  Bad times.

Thomas and Ben’s gran had the exceptional foresight to hang on to several toys and the Fisher Price village has been a huge hit with the next generation.  Unfortunately, I am no longer in possession of any of my favourite toys due to a very unfortunate misunderstanding about which side of my grandparents’ loft the things I wanted to keep should go.  The left, incidentally.  That is the left as you stand with your back to the hatch, not the left if you squeeze into the far corner of the loft and balance on the roof struts.  Failure to appreciate this not-particularly-subtle difference led to the loss of an entire collection of Rupert the Bear annuals, my substantial Playmobil collection, two boxes of foreign dolls and several boxes of assorted toys and games.

My late grandmother and I had Words. 
Several times.

At least it gave me a come-back to her oft-repeated “And remember the time you crashed the car while learning to drive and your granddad lost his false teeth?  And we’ve NEVER gone on about it.  Which we could have done.”  I no longer had to point out that if she hadn’t applied the handbrake while I was doing 30 mph things might have ended differently.  Or that “we’ve never gone on about it” actually translated as “we’ve mentioned it on every remotely relevant occasion and on several completely irrelevant ones too”.  Now I could simply come back with “Remember the time you gave all my stuff to a charity shop?”
I still live in hope that someday I will be idly browsing Ebay and I will find a listing for “Large collection of assorted items, some labelled with the initials “AC”, including a Playmobil pirate ship, a Fisher Price airport, a large pile of Rupert the Bear books and a very fancy Brazilian doll with layered silk skirts”.

But until that happy day, I have my campervan and my Japanese green tile thing is on its way.  Yippee!


  1. Hi,

    Sorry to bother you, but did you manage to find out the name of the green tile toy?

    I had one of these as a child in the 70s and I like yourself have been trying to find it again of late with little success.

    I just stumbled on your blog tonight and am hoping you might be able to share any info you have, it would be very much appreciated!

    Thanks in advance,


  2. Hi Megan
    No, I still don't know its name - only the brand name which was Bandai.
    But keep up the random ebay searching and you might get lucky!

  3. Anne, thanks for the reply.

    I'm really annoyed it wasn't one of those toys my parents kept because I LOVED it! I have recently seen an old photo my dad took of me on my 4th birthday and you can just see the top of the fair rides. It was so cool.

    I will keep searching :)



    1. Hi
      I have one of these if you are still looking for it