A lot of the time, I talk (whinge) about all the toys that only rich, gold plated children could ever afford. They whizzed around in battery powered cars, stopping only to play on their super fun happy swing and slide sets. Meanwhile, us poorer kids had to make our own fun with a stick and a lump of coal.

However, this wasn’t all bad. This early disadvantage taught kids like me to use our imaginations, and to make our own toys. Most of the time, these toys ended up being up to 277% more fun than the proper versions, due to the extra fun of making them. It’s all very well tearing wrapping paper off yet another diamond encrusted pony or wendy house, but it’s nothing compared to seeing the fruits of your labour slowly come together, at the expense of cardboard boxes, Pritt Sticks, and a load of your mum’s old junk that you’re sure she won’t miss anyway.


Since I have nothing better to do (this is a lie), I have decided to recreate some of the homemade triumphs from my childhood. To this end, I have been collecting boxes, and what I joyfully call ‘odds and ends’, and now I have a pile of rubbish worthy of Blue Peter. The only thing I don’t have is ‘sticky back plastic’, but I do have superglue, 900 rolls of sellotape, and a large amount of willpower, so I’m sure it will be fine.

1. Keypers

I’m not sure why I ever felt the need to make my own Keypers, since I had about 70 different ones cluttering up my bedroom. All I remember is that one day my older sister decided, in her infinite wisdom, that I should undertake this project instead of running round yelling with my finger up my nose.

Thus the crappy fake Keyper was born from a Kia Ora bottle.


Please note that cutting a jagged, amateurish ‘door’ in the plastic will invariably lead to all kinds of lacerations. If these were prizes at the fair, the fair would be shut down and the owners shot into space. But that didn’t matter, because I got to decorate my shit Keypers with eyes and bits of glitter. And after all, I could still keep my ‘secret’ things in them. Not that I had any secret things when I was 5, apart from maybe a stone I found that I didn’t want anyone to steal, as if they would.

2. Doll’s bed

Any shoe box or similar will do for this project. Since I never really had room in my bedroom for a proper doll bed, I frequently made my own disposable versions. This one is made out of a super noodles display box, which I acquired from Tesco, and I’ve used a tea towel as bedding. I don’t own any proper dolls anymore, so I’ve used an Action Man instead. I’m not sure why he’s sat there having a shame wank.


For added interest I’ve made a hospital bed, because every doll owner needs a doll hospital, where eyes can get glued back on, and where you can recreate dramatic scenes you saw on Casualty but didn’t really understand.


3. TV

This one is easy peasy, and especially useful for if your parents are watching something boring, like the news, and won’t let you watch He-Man because it’s 9pm on a Friday night and He-Man isn’t on. All you need is a vaguely tv shaped piece of cardboard. We lucked out with this one, it came in a box of crackers and it was already that shape. When I say ‘lucked out’, I mean considering that I’m 31 years old and I’m making a play tv out of cardboard.

Once you have your tv, the world is your oyster. The only limit to the shows you can ‘watch’ on your tv is your imagination. Unfortunately, my imagination’s a bit shit, so I just did shows that are already on.


Another fun thing you can do is to convince your parents that they are watching the news, when in fact they are watching your made up news on your made up tv. All you need for this is a pair of glasses, because all newsreaders have glasses, or proper ones do. Then you can appear on the screen and start shouting about how there’s a chocolate shortage, and any grown ups better head straight out to the supermarket and buy all the chocolate they can carry.


4. A home for your pet

I was never allowed a real pet when I was a kid, because I have all kinds of allergies and going within 500 yards of an animal made my eyes itch and swell up. The exception to this seemed to be horses, but I was never allowed a horse, because my parents didn’t love me enough/we only had a garden the size of a postage stamp.

However, necessity is the mother of invention (I think it was Lionel Blair who said that) and I ended up turning my soft toys into ‘real’ pets. I made all kinds of cages and houses for my pets, but the one I made most frequently was this model –


As you can see, once I’d taped the bars in place there was no way my pet was getting out of its cage without me breaking the box and undoing all my hard work. Luckily this wasn’t a problem, because my pets weren’t real, so they never did things like shit in their cages.

But my pets still needed bedding, which is where the really fun part comes in. I would sit for hours tearing up toilet roll to make luxury bedding for my pets.


This only became a problem when a family member went to have a poo later on, only to discover that all the toilet roll in the house was now at the bottom of my pet cage.

5. Car

The model you see below is an approximation of the masterpiece I created when I was little. The original took weeks of work, although that might just be my faulty memory, and in reality it only took ten minutes to make.


As you can see, this is a real, working car, because it has STOP and GO buttons, and it also has a steering wheel taped on. Cutting doors out of the side of the car is optional, but I chose to use the space for decorating my car instead.

Once you have your car, you are ready to undertake journeys. This involves making ‘NRRRRRRRR’ sounds, and ‘BEEP BEEP’ sounds whenever something imaginary gets in your way.

Places you can go in your car include the Moon, the seaside, and Redditch.


6. Barbie dream house

Barbie needs somewhere to live that isn’t the streets or down the back of your settee. As a responsible Barbie owner, it is your duty to provide her with walls and a roof.

One way of making your own Barbie dream house is to collect huge boxes, then tape them all together to create a seven floor monstrosity that will get thrown away by your parents, because they selfishly want to use the living room. However, there is another way. Using cereal boxes, you can create natty little rooms for your Barbies – All you have to do is open them up and decorate them.

Because I am a grown up, I decided to give my Barbie accommodation a suitably grown up theme –


Because it’s current year, and modern Barbie needs to earn her own living, like a sassy independent woman.

Would you like to read the book I wrote? It’s not that shit.

7 thoughts on “6 childhood toys I made at home


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