Funday Times

Toys an unusual theme for stamps

Stamp Corner By the Collector

Toys are something that we all love. A toy is a thing used in play. We see home pets like cats and dogs play with whatever they can find. The origin of toys is prehistoric. Dolls representing infants, animals, and soldiers, as well as representations of tools used by adults have been found at archaeological sites.

Although the origin of the word 'toy' is unknown, it is believed that it was first used in the 14th century.
Toys and games have been unearthed from the sites of ancient civilizations. Toys excavated from the Indus valley civilization (3000 – 1500 BCE) include small carts, whistles shaped like birds and toy monkeys which could slide down a string.

The earliest toys were made from materials found in nature, such as rocks, sticks and clay. Records show that thousands of years ago, Egyptian children had played with dolls that had wigs and movable limbs, which were made from stone, pottery, and wood. In Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, children played with dolls made of wax or terracotta, sticks, bows and arrows, and yo-yos.

Over the years, toys have changed immensely. The type of toys, materials used to make toys as well as the involvement in playing with toys has changed. Yet there are certain types of toys which are 'eternal'.

Not only children but adults too love them. Australia Post which is always on the lookout for interesting and varied themes for stamps recently released a set of stamps on toys. Titled 'Classic Toys', the set features five popular toys, which have been familiar with Australian children for at least three decades from the 1950s. Some of them are popular throughout the world.

`Barbie' launched in 1959 is among the toys featured. Wearing her trademark black and white striped swimsuit she quickly became a sensation with children throughout the world. With adult features, she embodied a hitherto unknown sophistication and was soon popular with little girls, who over the years built up Barbie wardrobes. Her clothes in the 1960s were inspired by Jackie Kennedy, the wife of American President John F. Kennedy.

The release of the stamp coincided with Barbie's half-century. Equally popular were the Cabbage Patch Kids, a creation by Xavier Roberts in 1978. Each doll was an individual with its own name and birthday. They could also be adopted. This encouraged children to take responsibility for raising the "kids" as if they were their own.

Cyclops pedal car introduced in 1953, was the result of the baby boom following World War II which significantly increased the demand for toys. Starting with the 'Comet' pedal car, within three years, the Cyclops catalogue features ten pedal cars.

By the time the Comet pedal cycles were becoming popular, children were also playing cricket. A game called 'Test Match' was produced by John Sands, one of the oldest companies in Australia to satisfy every Australian's dream of playing test cricket.

Way back in 1902, the Malvern Star bicycle saw the light of day in a suburb called Malvern in Melbourne. Featured in the stamp is the 'Dragstar' which Malvern Star produced in the 1970s, as a low-rider bicycle. Its wheels were smaller than average, it had very tall upward-swept handlebars. It also had a long, curved banana seat. Soon the model was in great demand among the children.

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