COLUMN: Looking Back with Pete Colman

Benny Wain's on Bondgate in Ripon, where I used to get my comics.  Here you can see judges from television programme It's A Knockout looking at its entry for a  window display competition when the show came to Ripon in 1974. (Picture ' Sean Looney)
Benny Wain's on Bondgate in Ripon, where I used to get my comics. Here you can see judges from television programme It's A Knockout looking at its entry for a window display competition when the show came to Ripon in 1974. (Picture ' Sean Looney)

Pete remembers the toys and games that have kept children entertained over the years:

Toys and games have changed so much since the 1950s but boys have always played with toy cars and train sets, while girls have always had their dolls and dolls houses. Teddy bears, meanwhile, have become firm favourites with both boys and girls.

Most young lads in the 50s would be seen in cowboy and Indian outfits, with your cap gun or bow and arrow which you had made yourself.

With war films being shown at the cinema or on TV, the Second World War was a great influence on the toys we played with in the 50s.

My own memories go back to the plastic green army men who were all the rage in the 50s, probably because they were cheap. We would stage battles in the garden, with other plastic figures such as knights.

Meccano and Dinky Toys cars were also the “in” toys to have with Scalextric cars and their electric motors the number one toy.

Airfix models were first produced in 1952 and have been made by generations of boys and men. You could buy them at Jack Thompson’s shop, which was on North Street.

I wasn’t very good at making Airfix models and always seemed to have parts left in the box when I’d finished the plane or boat I was making.

Board games were also very popular. Monopoly, which first came to Britain in 1936, became top seller of the 50s.

The 60s arrived with a decade of new dolls, with Sindy – who came on the scene in 1963 – being the biggest seller. Boys also had their own doll in the shape of Action Man.

1967 saw Spirograph winning the toy of the year, with Etch A Sketch also being a technologically influenced toy of the 60s.

The mid-60s saw Twister becoming the family game to play, with children and adults twisting into unthinkable positions.

Lego was popular as ever in the 70s with football game Subbuteo being the game most young lads played.

The big change of the 70s was the introduction of electronic games.

The 80s started with the puzzle from eastern Europe. The Rubik’s Cube (I never could do it) which was invented by Erno Rubik. The big sci-fi toys of the 1980s were Transformers and Star Wars .

The two main toy shops in Ripon which sold most of the items I’ve mentioned were Collinson’s Toymaster at 83 North Street and Jackie Briscombe Toyland on Kirkgate.

I’m sure Riponians like myself will have fond memories of going into these shops looking for their favourite toys.

Comics, like toys, will always bring back happy memories of when we waited for that day in the week when your comic or magazine came out.

The demise of the story papers came in the 1950s with the publication of the Eagle, Lion, and Tiger –these comics had picture strips.

Other comics like the Rover, Hotspur, Wizard, Skipper, and Adventure were also out at this time.

The Dandy – first published in 1937 – was the most popular children’s comics of all time, with characters such as Korky the Cat , Desperate Dan, Whacko and Blackbob helping sell millions of copies over the years.

Another well-known top seller was The Beano, with its own well-known characters such as Dennis the Menace, Biffo the Bear, Roger the Dodger and the Bash Street Kids.

Other comics out in the 1950s were The Topper, Beezer and Sparky, which leads me nicely into the best comic ever – The Victor.

It ran for 1,657 issues from 1961 until 1992.It came out on Mondays and in 1964 cost only 5d and included great stories like I Flew into Battle with Braddock, The Tough of the Track, Alf Tupper, Joe Bones the Human Fly and The Victor’s own Messi Gorgeous Gus.

Before I get too carried away by my memories I must not forget about girl comics and magazines such as Bunty, School Friend, Jinty, Tammy, Misty and Jackie.

Jackie magazine was published from 1964 until 1993 and was the best-selling teen magazine for ten years, and became known as a girl’s best friend.

Throughout the 1970s it sold more than 1m copies a week. Inside you had Cathy and Claire agony pages.

The centre pages contained a pullout poster of a pop star, which usually ended up on the bedroom walls of young teenage girl readers(and if you’ve wondering how I know this, it’s because I have an older sister!).

Newsagents where you bought your comics and magazines were at Benny Wain’s at 82 Bondgate and Campbell’s on Westgate.

So readers, since our childhood is only for a short time, do you really want to part with that toy or comic from your past? Think twice before you take it to the next car boot sale.