11 nostalgic country toys from your childhood: then & now
The old-time country toys of yesteryear are every bit as enchanting as they were when you were young.
In the West Virginia mountains, the nostalgia lives on. Independent toy shops still carry all the classics, from wind-ups to marbles and more.
Here are 11 nostalgic toys from your childhood— just like the old days, or with a modern touch:
1. Wind-up tin toys
Remember the little figurines you could bring to life with just the twist of a little dial? Berdine’s Five & Dime still has a vast collection of classic wind-up tin toys, from piggies that trot across the table to whirring cyclists and twirling clowns.
2. Stick ponies & rocking horses
Take a kiddie-sized horseback ride from Whipple’s Whimsical Toys. Their wooden stick horses are perfect for little ones with some imagination, and the vintage rocking horses are a fun ride for the tiniest tykes.
Everything in Whipple is classic— all the toys are at least 30 years old. Enjoy the nostalgia of the Matchbox Cars, Tinker Toys and giant Lamb Chop.
Mountain Craft Shop Co. creates toys like the olden days, even with their olden names, like WhimmyDiddles and FlipperDingers. Their traditional dolls include everything from fabric toys like sock monkeys, crocheted yarn and rag dolls to dolls with materials like corn cobs and buckeye nuts. They have more handmade folk toys, too, like wooden nickels, corncob pipes, peg puzzles, whistles and more.
Teach your little one how to play this simple but fun game. West Virginia’s Marble King has been crafting stunning glassworks since the 40s, including innovative swirling techniques that are still a secret today.
The iconic company’s antique marbles are so renowned, they can sell for upwards of $1,500 each, but you can also find regularly priced marbles in their gift shop.
5. Train sets
Relive the magic of watching a tiny train springing to life and winding around the tracks. Learn the history of these collector gems at the Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum, then pick up your own intricate train sets at the gift shop. You can even get the conductor’s cap and whistle to match!
6. Big Wheels
“The Toy King” Louis Marx crafted so many enchanting trinkets throughout his career in the 20s-70s, you could spend hours exploring his fantastical creations in the The Marx Toy Museum. He was the innovator of Rock’em Sock’em Robots, and most notably, the Big Wheel.
At Latta’s, you can find vintage-style trikes of every type: traditional big wheels, school bus trikes with carts and even taxi trikes for 2.
Country toys with a modern touch:
7. Marble runs
Far from the simple marble games of your childhood, today’s contraptions can send your little glass globes on a looping journey.
At Up on the Hill natural toys, you can find marble playsets that let your child create a winding adventure for their marbles, with connecting track, block tunnels and loops. You can even combine it with other marble run sets for more fun obstacles.
These aren’t your grandpa’s swing sets! Well, they are, but there’s a lot more to explore on the 2.0 version. Kid Country Toys specializes in play sets that go beyond swings and slides with climbing walls, nets and knotted ropes.
9. Create-your-own stuffed animals
Give new life to the classic stuffed animal toy by allowing your child the chance to bring the stuffy alive himself. Pick out your new buddy at Fizzy’s Land of Oz at The Greenbrier, and pump in the stuffing with a make-your-own machine! Just pump the pedal, and fluff fills your new friend with softness. You’ll get a birth certificate to commemorate the critter’s birth, and a special house for him to sleep in, too.
10. Science kits
Experiments are always fun, but toys have come a long way since the days of magnet sets. At the SMART (Science, Math, Art, Research, Technology) Center Market, you can find wonders like life-size fossil replicas, a gravity well and a plasma globe.
The best gift is a trip to the center itself, where your child can play with different educational toys and pick out a favorite. You can even join in on events like stargazing with the telescopes. Enjoy a $1 ice cream cone while you explore together.
11. Action Figures
Remember the little plastic molded figurines from your younger days? Today, they are more intricate. Stores like Classic Plastics Toy Store and Hillbilly Toy Chest carry everything from the simple old-fashioned figurines to moving transformer toys.
Which childhood toys do you remember most fondly?
This post was last updated on March 15, 2022