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The Find

Gifting Vintage Toys: Cars, Barbies, Teddy Bears & More

by Karen Parr-Moody 15 Dec 2021

Vintage toys are meaningful Christmas gifts for that special child – or the child in every adult. Even if the gift recipient isn’t a vintage toy collector, the whimsical design and high quality of vintage toys will still wow them.


When given as gifts, vintage toys can be tailored to personality type. Here, our sampling of vintage toys includes a charming Barbie convertible with a 1960s couple inside. This set is a fantastic gift for a stylish woman or a couple who fondly remembers the 1960s. The vintage toy fire station from the 1940s is a unique yet fitting gift for a firefighter or a collector of vintage toy cars. GasLamp has something to fit everybody, and the picks here are only a fraction of what the store has to offer.


Fun fact: When the Barbie doll hit the scene, she was thought to look a bit “mature.” Mattel’s antidote was Midge, Barbie’s freckle-faced bestie who arrived on the scene in 1963 sporting a russet-colored bouffant hairstyle. Midge’s body mold was the same as Barbie’s, but Mattel tweaked Midge’s face to make her more juvenile.

Currently, at GasLamp, Midge and Allan (introduced in 1964 as Midge’s boyfriend and Ken’s best friend) are cruising through Booth B-314 in a plastic convertible just like the actual one produced by the British carmaker Austin-Healy in the 1960s ($95). This car, which Mattel introduced in 1962, was the first Barbie car to be made. The Midge and Allan dolls here are wearing their original clothes for even more retro stylishness.


A collector of vintage toy cars could easily see the quality construction of this late 1940s fire station playset by Keystone ($98; Booth B-232). It consists of a two-door station, two fire vehicles, and a fire built from Masonite covered with a vibrant lithograph. A hand crank on the side sounds a fire alarm and raises the doors. This fire station is a sturdy collectible toy that will make for a unique gift.


The North American Bear Company made this V.I.B. bear (Very Important Bear) named Carmen Bearanda (NABCO), founded in 1978. NABCO produced such collectible teddy bears as Scarlett O’Beara and William Shakesbear. Carmen Bearanda is a 20-inch-tall bear made of coral velour ($48; Booth B-135). She wears a yellow, green and pink dance outfit with ruffles. She accessorizes her ensemble with a gold mesh headscarf with flowers attached and gold hoop earrings. 


In examining Marilyn Monroe’s wardrobe throughout her film career, one sees the beauty never met a polka dot she didn’t like. She wore ensembles in polka-dot fabric on several occasions, including a black-dots-on-white bikini and the shoulder-bearing summer dress in black-on-white polka dots in the film The Seven Year Itch.

This teddy version of Marilyn Monroe wears her much-loved fabric as a sundress with a matching polka-dot head wrap. Barbara Isenberg, co-founder of the North American Bear Company, designed this collectible teddy bear ($48; Booth B-135).


Vintage Chinese checkerboards from the 1940s and 1950s are so stylish that they could be grouped in a grid for a breathtaking art display. J. Pressman & Co. of New York City produced this midcentury modern “Hop Ching” Chinese checkers game, which could be used as a game or as art ($25; Booth B-314). It is made of heavy cardboard with a wooden frame, perfect for either use.


This vintage wooden sled can act as a toy or as a Christmas decoration ($99.95; Booth B-113). The sled is a retro ride for those Tennessee snows. And it fits into any Christmas scene to add a hint of nostalgia. It comes with a pair of white ice skates.

A heavy dose of whimsy is infused into the vintage toys found at GasLamp Antiques. Choosing such vintage toys as Christmas gifts guarantees you will be remembered as the giver for years to come.
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