【Nostalgic Series】Toys Made in Hong Kong

4 January 2024 by
Daisy Wong

From the 1960s to the 1990s, the exploration of nostalgic toys made in Hong Kong seems endless, with each toy holding precious memories for children. How many of them have you played with? This article will take you on a journey to revisit the development of nostalgic toys in Hong Kong, from paper cards and beanbags in the 1960s, plastic dolls, rubber bands skipping, and Mikado in the 1970s, to robots and Rubik’s Cube in the 1980s, and Game Boy and Tamagotchi in the 1990s. Let's together reminisce about the nostalgic toys of Hong Kong from our childhood.

First in the Hong Kong market: 

Photo album scanning without touching a thing

Learn More

“Made in Hong Kong" To​ys

The period from the 1950s to the 1980s was a thriving time for Hong Kong's plastic manufacturing industry, with toys being a significant product of the region. During this time, toys made in Hong Kong were known for their high quality and wide variety, made from materials such as rubber, plastic, metal, and featuring various designs. These toys not only gained popularity among local children but also captured the global market. Throughout Hong Kong's history of toy development, each era had its distinctive features. For instance, in the 1950s and 1960s, most toys in Hong Kong required DIY assembly, while in the 1970s and 1980s, there were plastic, tinplate, and die-cast metal toys, and in the 1990s, electronic toys became prominent. At that time, about 80% of the world's toys were manufactured in Hong Kong, showcasing the reputation of "Made in Hong Kong" as a symbol of excellent quality, even though the manufacturing industry later faced decline.

Nostalgic Toys i​n 1950s and 1960s Hong Kong

In the 1950s and 1960s, most families in Hong Kong had limited incomes, and it was rare for ordinary children to afford expensive toys. As a result, they had to get creative and invent their own "toys" that didn't quite look like traditional toys. They would use popsicle sticks to create models or play with paper dolls. These self-made "toys" became precious treasures for the children of that era, providing them with joy and fun in their own imaginative world.

Paper Cards

Paper Cards

Photo Source: U Travel

Paper cards originally emerged as promotional items for cigarettes. To promote cigarettes, each pack would include a card with specially printed artwork, exquisitely crafted. Adults would even gift these cards to children. Over time, these paper cards gradually evolved into standalone toys, becoming a massive trend in the 1950s. Each paper card cost only one Hong Kong cent, but for children of that era, they were treasures beyond measure. There were many ways to play with these cards. One popular method involved two people holding a card each in their palms, clapping their hands together and then releasing, letting the figures fall to the ground. Whoever had their figure land with the picture facing up emerged victorious and could win the opponent's figure.

Stone Grabbing/Bean Bag

Stone Grabbing/Bean Bag

Photo Source: ThinkHK

Among the nostalgic toys of that era, stone grabbing or bean bag games were also highly popular. Less fortunate children would use stones, or their mothers would sew bean bags for them. Stone grabbing/bean bag is a game made from fabric. Players would start by taking a small bean bag in their palm, tossing it upward with a backhand motion, and quickly flipping their hand to catch the bean bag on the backside. Then, they would flip their hand back to catch it on the palm. This process would be repeated with more bean bags until all were caught in the hand. This game not only honed children's hand-eye coordination but also captured their hearts, becoming a favourite pastime.

Relive the precious memories of your youth!

Photographs/ Photo Albums/ Videotapes

Learn More

Nostalgic Toys of Hong Kong in the 1970s

During the 70s and 80s, Hong Kong witnessed the rise of plastic, tinplate, and die-cast toys. The variety of toys became more diverse, and their craftsmanship grew more intricate. Nevertheless, the nostalgic toys from that era left a profound impact on the hearts of the children of that time, becoming treasured memories for them.

Plastic Dolls

Plastic Dolls

Photo Source: Carousell

In the 1970s, plastic dolls became the epitome of nostalgic toys in Hong Kong. Among these, the most iconic were the Hong Kong-manufactured versions of Kewpie baby dolls. Subsequently, a diverse range of doll designs emerged, characterised by vibrant colours. Early hard plastic dolls, tailored for young children, held a special place in their hearts. Hong Kong's doll production spanned an array of styles, reaching a global market. From hard plastic dolls, the designs gradually evolved into more lifelike forms, even incorporating human facial features as references, deeply resonating with the children of that era. Many families purchased these toys for their children, enabling them to enjoy joyful childhoods immersed in play.

Rubber Band Skipping

Rubber Band Skipping

Photo Source: HK Toy Story

This game has two variations, the first of which is the high jump. In the first version, participants stand on either side of a stretched rubber band and take turns jumping over it. If someone touches the rubber band or fails to clear it, they lose and must endure a penalty of being flicked by the rubber band. The jumper progressively elevates the rubber band's height, starting from low to high. Eventually, the challenge becomes jumping over the rubber band when it's stretched to arm's length. During this high jump, the section from the ground to the waist must be cleared without contact with the rubber band. For the section above the waist, participants can use their toes to hook and lift the rubber band before clearing it.

The second variation involves chanting while jumping. Two individuals hold one end of the rope each, while the rest of the participants enter the rope and jump together. Simultaneously, they sing or chant a sequence of lyrics that may include phrases like "小皮球 (small ball), 香蕉油 (banana oil), 滿地開花 (blooming flowers all around), 二十一 (twenty-one)…" and so on.

Affordable Photo Digitisation Services in Hong Kong

HK$2.5/ photo

Mikad​o

Mikad​o

Photo Source: Carousell

Many people have played the Mikado game during their childhood. In this game, each stick represents a different score, and players need to carefully pick up the sticks one by one without moving the other sticks and tally up their points. To start the game, players scatter the sticks before beginning their turns.

Nostalgic Toys of Hong Kong in the 1980s

Robots

Robots

Photo Source: HK Toy Story

Robots were immensely popular toys in the 1980s, with stationary shops often displaying various unidentified robot figures. The 80s marked a peak in the development of Hong Kong's toy industry, where toys became more intricate in terms of colour, material, and functionality. These appealing features attracted numerous children, and these toys have since become classics cherished by many, defining an era of play.

Rubik's Cube

Rubik's Cube

Photo Source: Wikipedia

The Rubik's Cube, a brain-teasing toy, was invented by Hungarian architecture professor Ernő Rubik in 1974. Comprising 26 small cubes and a central axis, each cube has six sides, each adorned with a different colour. Players must twist and turn the cubes to align all sides with matching colours, completing the puzzle. Rising to prominence during the 1980s, it became one of the most popular brain-teasers of its time and continues to captivate many even today. Beyond its puzzle-solving entertainment, the Rubik's Cube fosters creativity and imagination, offering players the joy of exploration, discovery, and challenge within the realm of play.

Nostalgic Toys of Hong Kong in the 1990s

Starting from the 1990s, as the economy and technology rapidly advanced, traditional handmade and paper toys gradually gave way to high-tech and electronic toys. This shift posed a significant challenge to traditional toy manufacturers. These new-age toys not only offer diverse gameplay but also facilitate interaction and competition among players, greatly enhancing the enjoyment and utility of toys.

Game Boy

Game Boy

Photo Source: Wikipedia

The Game Boy, released by Nintendo in 1989, marked the first generation of portable handheld gaming devices. Players could swap game cartridges to enjoy various games and engage in multiplayer battles. The games it introduced spanned a wide range of genres including action, sports, puzzles, and more, enabling players to experience diverse adventures and challenges within the gaming world.

Tamagotchi

Tamagotchi

Photo Source: HK01

"Tamagotchi" is a virtual pet game introduced by Bandai Corporation in 1996. The game is quite simple, where players need to care for and nurture a virtual pet, including feeding, cleaning, playing, and resting. Players can interact and communicate with the virtual character. Thanks to its adorable appearance and unique gameplay mechanics, "Tamagotchi" quickly gained popularity among a wide range of players.

Enjoy Free Delivery on Orders Over HK$2500!

Order Now

The Demise and Revival of Nostalgic Toys in Hong Kong

Nostalgic toys of Hong Kong hold our most cherished childhood memories, symbolising a unique history and culture. Today, these photos and videos, the remnants of our memories, can be digitally preserved to last forever, transforming them into cherished family heirlooms. Whether it's collectible cardboard figures, plastic dolls, robots, or the Game Boy, these images reveal the glorious eras of Hong Kong's manufacturing, allowing us to collectively relive the precious memories of our youth.

Digitise Your Precious Memories!


*This article is brought to you by Capture HK.

Capture HK is the premier analogue media digitisation company in Hong Kong.

Capture HK's business covers photographs, photo album digitisation, videotapes digitisation, including VHS, S-VHS, VHS-C, S-VHS-C Hi-8, Video8, Digital8, DV, DVCAM, MiniDV, DVC and digital media digitisation, including Secure Digital (SD), Smart Media (SM), MultiMediaCard (MMC) Compact Flash (CF), xD-Picture Card, Memory Stick, USB Drive, CDROM, DVD.

Join Our Community Now!

Get more valuable insights and latest discounts straight to your inbox.