Your favorite Christmas presents from years past – Care Bears, Sega, Meccano and more


It’s the most wonderful time of the year and in addition to great dinners, heartwarming movies and a healthy dose of chocolate, the children of the county will be opening great gifts.

Seeing those wide smiles on your kids’ faces is an absolute joy – but the toys they’ll open are likely very different from the ones you had as a kid.

OI asked you on Facebook on the best Christmas gifts you or your children have ever received.

Johnny Seven – One Man Army Toys

Mike Winter commented “Johnny seven gun. if you know you know”.

When it comes to toy guns, the Johnny Seven OMA has to rank among the most iconic. They came out in 1964 and became a huge seller in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia.

True to its name, the toy had seven different functions – from launching grenades and plastic rockets to a cap gun that popped out of the back.

They were heavily marketed on children’s television in the 1960s, particularly in the United States, with action-packed commercials of boys blasting different targets in their backyards.

Owners may also remember Johnny Lightning model cars from a few years later – although they failed to sell Mattel’s Hot Wheels.

The Johnny Seven One Man Army toy gun.


Martin Murphy’s pick for this list is Subbuteo.

Subbuteo is a surprisingly old football game, first appearing in 1947 – players were cardboard figures on buttons, weighed down by lead pucks.

The version you probably remember came out in the late 60s, with fully modeled players on heavy rounded bases.

The rules are simple – throw your players into the ball to pass it or pull it around the playmat, and try to get it into the goal. The player models themselves have also become a collector’s item over the years – there was even a miniature Queen Elizabeth if you wanted her to display your FA Cup!

Sets are still on sale today if you want to relive the magic of Subbuteo.

Burn a sketch

Victoria Louise Edwards gives us this nifty little art toy from the 60s.

Etch A Sketch is one of the best-known toys of all time, with enduring popularity to the present day.

If you’ve ever wanted to know how they work – that silver color on the screen is metallic powder, and the dials move a stylus to scratch it from within. The black color of the lines is just the darkness inside the toy.

Shaking Etch A Sketch upside down sticks the powder back on the screen – and you can draw again!

Some budding artists have been able to produce stunning work on these things – what’s the best thing you’ve ever drawn on one of these?

the "Magic" Etch A Sketch - it certainly seemed like magic at the time.
The “magical” Etch A Sketch – it certainly seemed magical at the time.


Before Lego, there was Meccano – the pick of Arthur Walding, Colin Ames and Graham Dawson for this list.

The first official Meccano sets came out in 1907, but inventor Frank Hornby knocked out his predecessors even further – 1898.

A favorite of little engineers around the world, they came in sets of drilled metal parts, plastic parts and nuts and bolts – and challenged you to build different vehicles and models.

You can also combine kits and freestyle into your own crazy creations. Tiny bulbs and motors helped bring them to life.

They have been popular for a very long time, and even today there are thousands of enthusiasts around the world.

Coventry City fans celebrate winning the 1987 FA Cup Final

Care Bears

Christina Austin and Darren Vel Satis remember Care Bears fondly.

Bears first appeared on greeting cards before being turned into plush toys in 1983 – from there the only way was up, with a long line of films, TV shows and of redesigns leading to the modern era.

The toys have been popular gifts for Christmas and many other occasions, with their cute designs and bright colors appealing to all ages.

Which bear was your favorite? Bedtime Bear is sounding pretty good right now…

Wish Bear, from the Care Bear family in 2003.
Wish Bear, from the Care Bear family in 2003.

Sega Mega Drive

Steven Randle’s choice is the Sega Mega Drive console.

This classic home games console came to the UK in 1990 and was a hit with a number of big action games, sports games – oh, and Sonic The Hedgehog.

The older, cooler cousin of Nintendo’s SNES console, if you believed all the TV commercials. Sega would eventually drop out of the home console market, but it left a strong impression on a lot of people in its time.

Did you have one? What did you play on it?

Fuzzy felt

Loraine Acton remembers Fuzzy Felt well.

A very simple concept that has sold extremely well – felt shapes that cling to a backing board. They came in all sorts of sets for making pictures, although the more enterprising kids could cut out their own shapes and create something unique.

They were invented by the Allan family, who made felt gaskets for tanks, and saw how much their children loved playing with the random drops. The first proper sets were sold in 1950, and tens of millions have been sold since.

No doubt part of the popularity was due to parents – who wouldn’t want an art toy with no mess to clean up?

Elvis in Fuzzy Felt - a custom creation by artist Lucy Morrow.
Elvis in Fuzzy Felt – a custom creation by artist Lucy Morrow.

Which of these toys did you receive for Christmas? What would you add to this list? Comment below or talk to us on social media.


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