You know when you get on to that conversation about childhood television? The one where you excitedly bring up all the things you enjoyed watching when you were little and it goes on and on with everyone shouting ‘Yeah, yeah, I remember ‘Pigeon Street’ and didn’t you just LOVE Bagpuss back in the day?’ And then the conversation digresses to lots of other childhood faves like the food we ate (I was rather partial to Angel Delight and does anyone remember KetCHIPS?)…
And then the talk inevitably moves on to the toys we played with! I loved toys, still do and it’s one of the reasons I think I get such a kick out of reviewing them on my blog when I get the opportunity! I was born in 1979 so the toys I played with myself were mainly in the eighties! I loved Barbies, Sylvanian Families, Cabbage Patch Kids, Glow Worms, Wuzzles, Pound Puppies… Oh the list went on for ages and I played with them until I was about 12! I just couldn’t bear to give up the magical land of play and I’d spend hours, literally hours setting up my Barbies or Sylvanian Families for small world play extravaganzas!
My love of ‘Small World Play’ started way before I was old enough for Barbies though, probably when I was just about Jimmy’s age (20 months) and I remember fondly playing with my Play Boot, Tree House, Shufflies Castle and Hospital and my treasured Ferry Boat. I just loved playing with the little characters who went with them and even though they were all different brands (Fisher Price and Matchbox mainly), they just went with each other because they were all similar sizes. Much like my children these days play with ‘HappyLand’ (ELC), ‘Little People’ (Fisher Price) and ‘Wow’ (Wow Toys) folk, if they are all the right size then they go together and can all became one happy family!
These are my old Matchbox Shufflies Castle and Hospital! I loved these and my children still get to play with them today when they visit my Mum!
One toy I always remember was one I didn’t even have myself! I loved it so much that I would make a beeline for it whenever I saw one at a play group or a friend’s house and it was obviously a popular choice because when the reminiscing conversation heads around to the toy department it’s the one EVERYONE gets excited about, boys AND girls! The Fisher Price Garage was the toy of toys when I was a pre-schooler and it’s easy to see why!
This is a retro Fisher Price Garage just like the ones I used to play with when I was little!
The old, or retro as I prefer to call it, Fisher Price Garage was just amazing! looking at the picture and I can remember exactly why I loved it so much! It had the lift with a ting, ting, ting bell that went off as you wound it up with a car inside, a petrol pump which came away from the garage and that excellent mechanics lift as well as the ramp, car park and very cool little cars which could of course be filled up with petrol from the pump! The people were brilliant too and quite small but I remember them having fabulous hair and faces. The whole toy, like all Fisher Price toys from back in the day, was simple but effective. Very effective. Plus, they were built to last! The ones I played with at play groups were years old back then and would you believe that I still see these retro garages at play groups I attend with my children now?! They were just great in every way and it’s not surprising that Jimmy, just like I would have done, heads straight for it whenever he sees one!
Children don’t care about something being shiny and new, they just care if it’s any good and the garage was OH SO GOOD in my day and having lasted thirty odd years in a playgroup toy box, it is still utterly fabulous now! Perhaps a little yellowed and faded in places and maybe with a ripped sticker or two but for the most part I have never seen one which isn’t brilliant quality and the ones I see these days are all used by hundreds of children and have been for years don’t forget! How well made must they have been! All the old toys were built to last it seems. Florence and Jimmy get to play with my old toys like the ‘Shufflies’ at my Mum’s and still have hours of joy out of them after they have withstood my own childhood then many years of being bashed about in boxes in the shed or loft!
When I was little I so wished I’d had my own Fisher Price Garage and at the age of 34, I still wish I had one so that the children could have one at home to play with too. Jonny had one but he doesn’t have it anymore and have you SEEN the price of them on ebay??!! So, alas, an old retro garage will not be ours. But…
I won a new style Fisher Price Garage in a competition a while back. I’ve been very excited about getting it out of the box but saving it in the loft for the right time. We decided to give it to Jimmy for his Christmas present and it wasn’t just me who was super excited about it but Jonny was too because he also remembers the old version so fondly! ‘Do you remember the bell and the little lift and the petrol pump…’ we said to each other! We literally couldn’t wait for Jimmy to see that he had his own one – how exciting!
But… (another but) now that we have it out of the box, the excitement (from us parents anyway), is gone. It’s just not a patch on the retro style. Not a patch at all!
The new style Fisher Price Garage is very disappointing for us adults at least!
Jimmy likes it. Don’t get me wrong, he loves it in fact and is so super excited to play with it. He literally squealed when he saw it and has spent ages whizzing the cars round and round the ramp but Jonny and I are thoroughly disappointed by it!
It still has the features we used to love but they’re just nowhere near as good. The lift is there with the ting, ting, ting bell but instead of winding it up with the little handle (I remember that being so much fun) you push it and pull it up and down. Fine-ish but it’s really stiff and hard to do, Jimmy can’t do it on his own and completely bypasses this feature because of it. The petrol pump is also still there but it’s stuck down and very fiddly to get hold of… Such a shame!
Other things we don’t like are plentiful: The mechanic’s lift is gone completely and the whole things is HUGE! From the size of the cars to the structure itself and as for the obese ‘Little People’, well! This toy used to be quite light and small but the new one is gargantuan! The cars were snippy in the past but you could probably use the truck that comes with it now as some sort of weapon! The truck also has a very annoying battery operated sound which is something this toy just doesn’t need. I appreciate some toys do but there’s no reason for it here and it provides nothing but irritation for us! The other thing is that the new version is quite flimsy to feel. I don’t know obviously, but simply can’t imagine that this bright and garish new relative will last anywhere near the play time of his older brother’s design! Clumpy and heavy, hard work to use the previously most endearing feature and just nowhere near as appealing… It simply begs the question:
If it ain’t broke Fisher Price? Why fix it?
I don’t understand the reason for these silly changes over the years? Maybe it’s being nostalgic and stuck in the past but to me it’s taken a brilliant toy and made it far worse which surely can’t have been the aim in the Fisher Price design studio but there we are. I suppose this one is probably cheaper to make and perhaps people don’t want or need toys to last these days? Shame though! Like I said however, Jimmy loves playing with it, not as much as he enjoys the retro one at playgroup I have to disappointingly if unsurprisingly report but he does still like his Christmas present very much so I thought it only fair, after giving it such a tongue bashing myself, to show you Jimmy having fun with it!
As you can see, not as cute as it used to be but still with a very cute little player to take charge of the games!
I have not been paid in any way to write this post. All opinions are entirely my own.