The enduring appeal of Mr Potato Head


We are what you would call a ‘game’ family.
We will happily sit around all Sunday afternoon playing Connect 4, Kerplunk, Operation and Uno (it’s a card game and my 6-year-old thrashes the lot of us at it!).

So this weekend we were battling it out over a game of Frustration and I thought to myself, has anyone actually managed to invent a new game or toy that can beat the good old fashioned stuff we’ve always loved?

These days our children are exposed to computer games, high tech versions of old classics and interactive devices that would have seemed positively alien when I was a young girl.
And yet, despite all the technology and the amazing advances, my son will pick a game of noughts and crosses (tic tac toe) over his Nintendo DS any day.
If I offer to sit and do his 100-piece SpiderMan jigsaw with him, he will drop everything.
And don’t even get me started on his love of Lego.

We have a Wii and we L O V E it. But a game of cricket in the garden wins hands down every single time.
Hangman, using just a scrap of paper and a pencil, has been fantastic in helping his spellings along.

Tonight, while making dinner, my 3-year-old daughter was totally engrossed with Mr Potato Head. The simplest of toys when you think about it and yet she shuns her make up sets, electronic books, talking round the globe thingy to play with that.

Ah now, that gets me all nostalgic over the toys I played with as a child.

Buckaroo, Spirograph and Sindy. And that hideous doll that that had hair that ‘grew’ so I chopped it all off one day because no one told this child that it didn’t actually grow as such.
And Crossfire which was totally lethal because it basically meant you got to fire ballbearings at each other!

So what were your childhood favourites and do you still play any of them now?
And if not, why not!

NOTE: I just wanted to add how fantastic all the comments were on the Shouldn’t we ALL be homeschooling post last week.
Really, it’s so wonderful to see you guys get all hot under the collar about something like this and to hear from homeschoolers themselves, teachers and all those who have come across this concern themselves was great.
A fabulous cross section of words from everyone involved and I appreciate you taking the time to leave your comments.

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26 Responses to The enduring appeal of Mr Potato Head

  1. Vered - MomGrind says:

    We're not much into board games, but we play pick up sticks and jump rope together almost every day. 🙂

  2. iota says:

    Ooh, I had a spirograph. I spent HOURS with that thing.Memories of childhood games for me also include the games at other people's houses. They always seemed more exciting than your own. One friend had Twister and Ker-Plunk, another had a potter's wheel, another had a game called "Journey Through Europe" which we must have played a million times. My cousins had Masterpiece. I think it's a good idea to have a few favourites. Because I loved board games as a child, I bought our children plenty, and I think maybe too many. I'm trying to thin them out – get rid of the ones we don't play and then play the favourites more. Or at least rotate them. Just having them all in a cupboard in a pile doesn't seem too inviting.Mousetrap was my top favourite as a child.

  3. I had forgotten about Mousetrap… loved that one.We love dominos and pickup sticks.

  4. Dave Fowler says:

    Crikey! Yes! Crossfire…. was absolutely lethal. You paint a great picture of family life and I love the idea that your kids shun the electronic games in favour of the good old fashioned games. I donlt know why but I have never enjoyed the board games very much. I'll play them once in a blue moon but if the board games come out at a family gathering I head straight to the beer fridge (not that we have a fridge dedicated to beer or anything).

  5. The 4 year old's current obsession is skipping. She does it every day and is starting to learn rhymes that I used to sing whilst skipping. Frustration is my all time favourite and as soon as the 4 year old was old enough I scoured the shops looking for a non Barbie/Noddy emblazened one. We now have 'hop n pop' from Asda which is exactly the same. She beats me nearly ever time. I love board games and playing cards. The husband isn't so keen. It won't be long before I have both chidren trained up to entertain me!

  6. Reasons to be Cheerf says:

    Remember Jacks. 6 little jacks and rubber ball you bounce. Bounce the ball and collect the jacks from 1-6 with the same hand. Hours of fun. And spirograph. Marbles – loved those. I've lost them now though 😉 xx

  7. Mary T says:

    The oldies are definitely the best. I just posted something similar myself!

  8. Kat says:

    My kids love playing Kerplunk and with Tinker Toys. They can spend hours building things with blocks and knocking them down. I would much rather they use their imagination than play the Nintendo DS (which is why I keep it up and they have to ask permission to play it).

  9. Mum Gone Mad says:

    Oh lord! I remember Crossfire, how dangerous was that?! I never had Operation as a child and the scars must have still run deep cos I ran out and bought it when my kids were old enough, lol. Oh and Buckaroo of course, sigh. My lot seem to prefer a game of "run screaming round the garden" at the moment though 🙂 luv Karen x

  10. Tara says:

    @ Vered: Pick up sticks is aces – especially those giant ones you can get for the garden now. The sticks are as big as my daughter, which makes for very entertaining times in the garden! @ iota: It's funny how everyone else's games were better than your own when you were little. Mousetrap was just great (but it too AGES to put together!) @ A Modern Mother: Dominoes, yes (although finding one without Dora or Cars on is rather a challenge!).@ Laura – Are We Nearly There Yet Mummy? Skipping, how fab is that? Is it me or do you not see girls doing that so much these days? Probably 'health and safety' dictates it's far too dangerous! @ Dave Fowler: Come on my man. Even you must recognise the superior enjoyment of Cluedo over a bottle of beer?

  11. turnitupmom says:

    Hmmm…what do I remember? Battleship, Lite Brite, Connect Four, Monopoly, Candyland….the oldies but goodies. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  12. Coding Mamma (Tasha) says:

    I'm really looking forward to playing board games and card games and the like with Rosemary (and No. 2 eventually!). She'll manage pairs, snap or animal dominoes for a little while at the moment, but can't sit through a whole game. She constantly wants to play snakes and ladders, but has to make up her own rules (I blame Charlie and Lola for that one!).I used to have loads of fun as a child playing all sorts of games. I loved Operation and my best friend had The Game of Life which we played whenever I stayed over. From about the age of 8, one of our favourites was Boggle. I remember how thrilled I was when I started consistently beating my parents at it. Connect 4 was another favourite. We also had this quite complex game called The Canal Game (I think), which we'd play maybe once a week. As I got older Trivial Pursuits (given us by a family down the road who could only answer about one question in fifty; no way could we have afforded a £30 board game!) became the favourite. But I did also play computer games on my spectrum and Donkey Kong and a little hand-held gizmo we had. I think you can enjoy both and get different things out of them. The board games in particular, though, are great for enjoying time together as a family.

  13. Tara says:

    @ Reasons to be Cheerful: Ahh now marbles. We have a bit of a love/hate thing going on with marbles. My son has armfuls of the things but they seem to manage to find cunning ways of jumping out of his marble bag and depositing themselves all over the floor, usually ending up in the soft part of my foot. @ Mary T: Another vote for the oldies!@ Kat: "I would much rather they use their imagination than play the Nintendo DS" I second that Kat. @ Mum Gone Mad: Operation? Scars? You are teasing us surely! "My lot seem to prefer a game of "run screaming round the garden" at the moment- I LOVE your lot Karen! @Turnitupmom: Battleship was great wasn't it? did you know you can now buy a 'girlie' version where you aquire handbags and shoes. My friend told me her 8 year old daughter has it and I couldn't believe my ears!

  14. Writer Dad says:

    We LOVE board games and card games as well. Our current favorite is Uno which is always a heap of fun. I can't wait until my son is old enough for Monopoly. That will be awesome. This summer I'm teaching my daughter Chess.

  15. Lisa (Jonny's M says:

    I loved the pogo stick I had, actually. Then there was my matchbox cars with the tracks. I would set those things up all over and make the cars go over the biggest hills. But, at the same time, I could take just a blanket, drape it over a couch and chair and make a tent and I was happy. Being a kid didn't mean big things and I'm still amazed at how fascinated my son is with the simplest of things.

  16. clareybabble says:

    I've just found out Jenga and I'm going to teach my 3 yr old how to play. Hubby and I regularly play Scrabble and Yahtzee. Every Xmas our family have marathon game sessions! Favourites from my childhood are Monopoly, some haunted house game (probably called haunted house!), Mouse Trap, Cluedo, Operation…

  17. A Lawyer Mom's says:

    And we wonder why a big box and a pair of walkie-talkies put Santa to shame.Husker-Do and Perfection were my family's top two. It took me weeks to find an old, beat-up Husker-Do (it's a memory game) on ebay, but it was worth it. Perfection is still around (I found mine at Target). You put fit different geometric shapes into a grid and if you're not fast enough, BAM. They all pop out.

  18. Rebel Mother says:

    OMG! I remember some of those games….all lost in the midst of technology now.I must confess to playing monopoly, where somehow Olly ends with hotels on Mayfair and I end in Whitechapel in a poky house! Some things never change!PS Hop-Scotch with Amber – I was mortified she didnt know how to play. RMx

  19. Metropolitan Mum says:

    Rope skipping, hula hoop and roller skates. The propper ones with 2×2 wheels. Disco style. I actually thought of getting a new pair for myself. Could be fun. Oh, and the one with the rubber band. Is it called twist here as well? Loved that!

  20. That Girl says:

    Oh I so wanted a Girls World doll but was not allowed! I think MM knew that I would plaster myself in all the make up! I had Mouse Trap, Frustration and Headache… two of those things still feature a lot funnily enough! Do you remember the mini cadburys choc bar machine that was a money box? Wanted one but never got it… despite cutting pictures out of the Kays catalogue and leaving them all round the house. Is this grounds for therapy? x

  21. amy says:

    award over at mine for you, enjoy! x

  22. Kim says:

    Argh, I hatedhatedhated frustration – too, too frustrating! That, and Sorry! argh.I love Uno, my whole family does – we have specific family gatherings (that's 5 sisters, 1 brother, a mother, 3 brothers-in-law and 7 nieces and nephews) simply to play Uno! It taught me my numbers from about 2yrs old :)I really enjoyed boardgames: ludo, snakes & ladders, monopoly, cluedo, pretty much all of the above mentioned, but I mainly read as a child, and loved to play word games with my mum – we'd get the big synonym finder out (surely just called a thesaurus now?), and we'd randomly pick a word, read out the synonyms listed and you'd have to guess the original word. I'm really looking forward to the time when I a) have children, and b) they're old enough to play games with!

  23. Mum Gone Mad says:

    Hey you, got a little award for you over at mine… hope you don't already have it :S

  24. Expat mum says:

    My little guy has just discovered our old "Frustration" but of course, we have to bend the rules a little. He is addicted.I also loved Ker Plunk – especially that American TV ad, with the very American kids shouting "Kerrrr Plunk". Little did I know I would someday have some of my own. Ker Plunk sticks that is!

  25. Turf Dad says:

    I liked to play a board game called Othello when I was a kid. It is a good strategy game. If you haven't played it you can play it on-line. Just Google it.We play a lot Sleeping Queens in our house, Google that. It's a great card game.

  26. clareybabble says:

    There's an award for you at my blog xx

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