Toy soldiers
Photo de Jemima Whyles sur Unsplash

Vintage: The Most Popular Vintage Toys From the Last 145 Years

In one corner of the UK, a cool charity called Artfelt is on a mission to zap the gloom out of waiting rooms for children stuck with the aches and pains of broken bones. They have enlisted Andy Brown, a photographer with a knack for capturing the bravery of little hospital warriors, to work his camera magic in the Accident & Emergency department at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

Andy is no stranger to the power of a good picture; he’s been behind the lens capturing the stories of tiny tots in chemotherapy and neonatal care. Now he’s aiming to combine the hospital’s old-school vibe, which dates back to the rocking 1870s, with a dash of fun through toys. “Linking the hospital’s heritage with today’s smiles is pretty rad,” Andy muses. “Each toy is like a time machine, taking us back to every decade the hospital has been around.”

For this performance, Andy went minimalist, placing each toy against a simple, monochromatic backdrop to make them pop like stars on stage. “I wanted these toys to shine and tell their stories of joy and play,” he says. And boy, did he keep it real, showing off every nick and scratch like badges of honour from playtime past.

But Andy wasn’t just taking pretty pictures, he was on a detective hunt for the hottest toys of each decade. When Google shrugged him off, he teamed up with Catherine Howell, a toy guru at the Victoria and Albert’s Museum of Childhood, to track down the toys that rocked the playground and made history.

This photographic adventure isn’t just a walk down memory lane:

  • It starts with the zoetrope, the original form of animation, long before Pixar made us cry happy tears.
  • It nods to toys that show us how times have changed, like a figure from the days when Downton Abbey vibes were real life, not just binge-worthy TV.
  • The Slinky arrives as a happy accident that bounced into hearts in 1943.
  • Some toys missed the photo call because they were too big or too fancy, like those crazy Big Wheels or fancy chemistry sets.
  • He-Man flexed his muscles, proving that action figures could win over doll sceptics and make money.
  • Clackers became the unicorns of the toy world – everyone remembers them, but finding one? Good luck finding one.
  • Andy’s personal Luke Skywalker action figure reminds us of the days when toys were meant for epic backyard adventures, not just collecting dust.

Through Andy’s lens, we see a story that is bigger than toys. It’s about how our world, our technology and our play have evolved.

Getting all these toys for the shoot? It was a community effort, with museums, friends and even radio listeners pitching in to help Andy complete his toy time capsule.

In a world full of digital distractions, Howell leaves us with some wisdom: “Toys aren’t going anywhere. There’s something about holding and imagining with a real toy that no app can beat”. The classics – dolls, teddy bears, toy soldiers – are still here, just with a modern twist, proving that a little fun never goes out of style.

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