Royal Mail today revealed a new stamp issue featuring some of the most iconic and much-loved British toys from the last 100 years.
Evoking feelings of nostalgia across generations, the toys featured are: the Merrythought Bear; Sindy Doll; Spirograph; Stickle Bricks; W.Britan Toy Figures; Space Hopper; Fuzzy Felt; Meccano; Action Man and Hornby Dublo trains.
In the 19th century, the growing middle class of the Victorian era was fuelling an expansion in toy-making and major names in British manufacturing started to appear and compete with foreign makers. Previously a producer of mechanical toys, W. Britain pioneered the hollowcast method of figure-making: made using less molten metal, toy soldiers were both lighter and significantly cheaper to produce.
British manufacturers grew in confidence as the 20th century progressed. Soft-toy companies, including Merrythought, which still produces luxury bears to this day, began to take on the might of European giants such as Germany’s Steiff.
In 1938 Frank Hornby launched the Hornby Dublo train set. The following years would see the arrival of some of the biggest names in the history of toys – Fuzzy-Felt (1950), Sindy (1963), Action Man (1966) and the Spacehopper (1969) all materialised in a wild two-decade span, as well as Spirograph (1965) and Stickle Bricks (1969), which were two exceptional and enduring innovations that helped inspire young minds and encourage creativity.
By the early 1960s, Britain was exporting more toys than all but three other countries, with annual sales totalling over £7 million.
The heyday of the British toy industry remains a magical era, one that shaped childhoods across the generations. And with many of the best-loved toys from the past still with us, or perhaps relaunched after temporary absences, the children of today can still have fun with some of the world’s most iconic toys.
Royal Mail spokesperson Philip Parker said: “British toy makers enjoyed a reputation for quality and innovation, and these nostalgic stamps celebrate ten wonderful toys that have endured through the decades.”