I’m not as old as Danny Baker, but I did have some of my childhood in the 70s. That’s the context for this post. I turned 8 in 1980. Old enough to appreciate Star Wars, too young for punk. Thought of myself as one of Adam’s Ants.
Here, then, are the most memorable Christmas presents I had as a kid.
My earliest memory of a toy is a blue & yellow moulded plastic tricycle. I drove it down the stairs and lived. Whilst I consider this to be an achievement, it does make me wonder what kind of death-trap household I lived in as a toddler. As presents go, this one was a pleasurable danger.
Play People Pirate Ship
In my mind, the pirate ship was HUGE. Playmobil’s Play people were bigger than lego people but smaller than action man. They had no knees and a pretty vacant stare. That did not in any way prevent them from having many an adventure courtesy of my childhood imagination. That pirate ship was the scourge of my living room well past Christmas Day.
Four coloured buttons, each containing a light. They flashed in a random sequence and you had to repeat it. That was it. That was the whole thing. Nowadays, this wouldn’t even be a good enough idea for an app for your phone. Back then, it was cutting edge technology. I had literally minutes of fun with this.
Too big to wrap, my parents hid it behind a curtain on Christmas morning. Best present ever! I was mobile. A young lad about town. This bike enabled my subsequent childhood adventures. A powerful, stocky beast of a bike. Another gift was a growling handle for it, emulating the sound of a real motorbike. Women literally fell at my feet, but that was mostly because I rode the bike on the pavement. Oops.
Little Computer People
I had a Commodore 64 and was a bit of a geek. Activision’s Little Computer People was therefore right up my street. The premise was that every computer had a person living inside it, and this software allowed you to see and interact with them. Once loaded, you watched him go around his house, playing the piano, dancing and feeding his dog. He even talked to you on the phone, not that you could understand a word he was saying. Then there was the mystery door. He went in and you had no idea what he did in there. Well, I think we can guess. Dirty little man.
Guinness Book of World Records
I got this from my Grandparents every year as a Christmas present. Every year. It was a heavyweight monster of a book. I do remember skim-reading it on Boxing Day and then wondering what I should do with it. As a reference book, I don’t recall relying on it. It wasn’t really a good read. And yet it was an annual gift. I suppose, however, that the fact that I can recall that the tallest man ever was Robert Pershing Wadlow means that it served its purpose.
A courtesy nod to two presents that I remember my younger brother getting. The Evil Knieval was launched once before it was confiscated. It sped across the room and hit the glass door. I don’t think we ever saw that again. The second one was Bigtrak, a programmable lurching Space 1999-esque vehicle that was handy for absolutely nothing other than annoying the cat.