Top 5 childhood toys

Improv comedian and self-styled “failed jogger” Lucy Day joined me to relive our childhoods and complain about the toys we never had.

Both Lucy and I wanted a Mr Frosty but were denied one, and were both fans of the wonderful book and TV series The Animals of Farthing Wood.


I nearly told a story about showing a family member my organ (it’s fine), and Lucy revealed the toys that made her anxious as a child, namely Crocodile Dentist and Etch-a-Sketch.

⚠️ Trigger warning: if you ever put on a show for your parents and they told you they were watching, they weren’t. Sorry. Also, it turns out that growing up isn’t about not being able to do anything you want, but about being able to do anything you want, but having to face the consequences.

We also compared the dogs we had. You can be the decider as to which one was best.

A note on privilege

We all know that when Lucy says she had a “privileged” upbringing, she’s being a bit self-deprecating rather than elitist. You know this, but now it’s in print.


Lucy’s picks

In order of discussion:

Dressing-up box

Made with love and care by Mum, with some items donated by other family members — perhaps those no longer with us — the dressing-up box was one of many doors to a whole world of imagination.

Sega MegaDrive

Americans mistakenly call it the “Genesis”, but to everyone who grew up in the 90s outside of North America, the Sega MegaDrive was a thing of 16-bit beauty.


Lucy played with what by today’s standards might be considered a paltry amount of bricks, but “back in our day”, they were simply what was on offer. And they were enough. Lucy used to build things with her dad, in a world before Marvel and Star Wars sets were everywhere (usually on the floor).


This “cheap woman’s Barbie” was not necessarily a feminist icon, but she was affordable. Back then it was all about the drama, and the necessary intermingling of characters from the Sindy universe and Sylvanian Families.


Like Lucy’s life (apparently… we’re probably not best equipped to judge), the Spirograph showed great promise but was ultimately less-than-satisfying after a few goes.

My picks

In order of discussion:

Karaoke machine and portable tape player

My friend and I used to record secret missions with each-other, with the mission-setter using the karaoke machine to make an instructional tape the player would play, as he navigated the world his friend had created, fighting awkwardly.

Sega Game Gear

I saved up my pocket money to buy this handheld 8-bit console. It scored over the Game Boy as it was full-colour and had a landscape screen, but there weren’t enough original titles to keep it afloat. Very well-off boys and girls might have added the optional TV tuner so they could watch telly on a 3” screen.

Teddy bear

My teddy was called Havy, for some reason. He was brown and had a little red heart on his chest. I loved him very much, but he probably had to go to where all teddy bears go after a while, when the stuffing can no longer be replaced.

Magna Doodle

Unlike the aforementioned Etch-a-Sketch, the Magna Doodle was a freeform drawing device that promised a lot more creative freedom. Apparently divers use it underwater — even though they’re absolutely not rated for that use — because the “ink” is based on magnetism, not gravity.

Train set

The video I was thinking of, with Thomas doing stunts, doesn’t involve 50 Cent — that’s another one — but is an iteration on the Thomas the Dank Engine meme.


Honourable mentions

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