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14th October 2014
Location: Brighton Toy and Model Museum
Interviewer – Andrea Dumbrell
Videographer – Dan Cash

00.07 – Andrea: So did you play with any dolls?

Hugh: Yeah. Action Men, yeah. Absolutely loved them, yeah. I brought a boot in to remind myself of that. So, I had about 6, from 1971 to about 1979. They were, well it was action stations for memory. Yeah, superb.

Andrea: So thinking about your Action Men, can you describe them? How many you had, what you had?

Hugh: Well I think at its high point I probably had 6 I would say, who had different names. All around the, all sounding a bit like Ronald MacDonald, but none of them were actually called that, because MacDonald’s didn’t exist in the UK at that point, so I had no notion. But they had that sort of rounded names that were understandable. But I can’t . . . No, they were in a sort of pack, they were a group, like a commando unit. They were a very tight team you know.

Andrea: And how did you come to own them?

Hugh: Just used to get them at Christmas and birthdays. The optimum present really. I used to get either Action Man uniforms or a new Action Man, and you could buy them in a different guise. I can’t actually remember which ones I had but … I really can’t remember. They would have been military types. But they used to come as, in a uniform, or there could be a sort of sports or there could be deep sea diver, it would come with a lot of equipment to . . . well, it wouldn’t come with it, you had to get it. But every Christmas on TV, in the run up to Christmas, things were advertised on TV to chime with whatever Action Man was out. And a major innovation was that you might have started out with one with fixed positon hands in a sort of the right hand was in a trigger position and the left hand was in a muzzle support position, but that was changed in the early 70s to gripping hands so you’d have more utility. That was quite an innovation really.

2.33 – Andrea: And how did you play with them? What sorts of games?

Hugh: Usually imaginary missions. Either in the winter it would be almost certainly inside and in the summer they’d be, they’d spent a lot of time in the back yard, garden, buried. They’d have camps. Or they’d be hidden, or they’d be fighting the next door neighbours’, they’d be in a sort of team engaged in warfare with next door. So that was … Yeah, they spent a lot of time outside getting very dirty. With all their equipment.

Andrea: And how did you feel about them?

Hugh: Yeah, they were . . . I loved them, yeah. In fact, getting rid of them was quite a wrench and although I felt incredibly rich with the five pounds that I probably got for them all, it really, you know . . . It’s a shame, ‘cos a lot of things I haven’t got rid of, I have got rid of those. I spent . . . It might have been ten, it might have been nine pounds. I immediately bought, I bought a digital watch. I’d moved on. So, yeah.

3.52 – Hugh: [looking at an Action Man] Well, this is one of those pre, say pre 1971 Action Men with the hands in the fixed position so he’s got a rigid trigger finger and a rigid hand for holding the barrel. So I think in the early 70s they changed to having gripping hands, which then became a fantastic innovation, they could hold multiple tools, all the fingers could articulate, and so could the thumbs. The issue with that was they broke, they became broken on the inside of the knuckles and so fingers would fall off. Fortunately, in Brighton, in this very street here, was the doll’s hospital, where you could get that problem rectified and a new pair of hands put in so your Action Man would work

4m 56s – RECORDING ENDS

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14th October 2014
Location: Brighton Toy and Model Museum
Interviewer – Andrea Dumbrell
Videographer – Dan Cash

00.04 – Hugh: Okay. I’m Hugh Taylor. I was born in 1966 in Hove, which is adjoined to the city we’re now in.

Andrea: It is indeed. And did you spend your childhood in Hove?

Hugh: Yes. I did mostly, yes. In fact, almost entirely.

Andrea: So when you were growing up, did you have a teddy bear?

00.27 – Hugh: I did, although I can’t remember the name of it, and I really promise I can’t. That sounds ludicrous, but I can’t. I can describe it, and that might come to me. But I can’t remember the name of it. Would you like me to describe it? Okay, it was a . . . Let’s say, for the sake of argument it was a female cat in a very flat shape about 12 inches in height. So it was not rounded, how you might expect teddy bears to look. It was like someone had made it out of flat fabric. So it was not well stuffed. Or at least by the time I got my idea and usage of it, it had got to that point where it was flattened. And it was grey coloured, with some sort of uniform and grey legs and white feet. And I must have had it since I was a baby but it, it only became liked really because of its comforting smell which must have been a sort of combination of bits of sick and snot, and other bodily functions. Smells of saliva. And it was occasionally washed, and when it was washed that was a problem because it had a different smell then. It was usually rejected at that point.

Andrea: So you said you owned it since you were a baby. Do you know where it came from?

Hugh: I’ve no idea. I suspect, because of its button type eyes that someone made it. Although if they did, it was good, because it was pretty well made. Yeah, but I’ve no idea, I’ve no idea. I’ve never seen one, I’ve never seen the like of. Yeah.

Andrea: So did you play with it?

Hugh: No. I think it, it stayed on my pillow. And I. How would you? I suppose if that is playing with it, it would be comforting at night I suspect, yeah. I smelt it a lot. If that is playing. That’s a kind of play that I recognise. Yeah.

Andrea: So how did you feel about it? How important was it?

Hugh: Yeah I suspect it was of fundamental importance for a period of time. And then when I about school age I had another one that was in much better nick, was much more understandable. It was like a panda, a small panda but it was the right sort of shape as we might imagine a teddy bear. I think what I’m thinking is that sort of Edwardian bears were much flatter, of a flattened type. This, the next one I had was more … And that had only symbolic purposes, it wasn’t played with. It may have had darts thrown at it at some stage, when I was fed up with it. But that was it.

Andrea: So do you still have either of them?

Hugh: No

Andrea: Do you know what happened to them?

Hugh: No. No idea. They disintegrated. One of them would have disintegrated. Actually, the first one I had my Auntie Gill, who was very good at sewing, used to make small clothing adjustments to it that I remember, when it became threadbare.

Andrea: So if you had a best memory of either of them, do you have a best memory of it, or just something that was there in your life?

Hugh: I’ve just had that best memory, of Auntie Gill making new clothing for it. She took the time to think, at Christmas probably, “that’s a bit threadbare” so she made a new waistcoat or something, or patched up its really thin veneer. [Laughs]

04.23 – Andrea: So did you play with any dolls?

Hugh: Yeah. Action Men, yeah. Absolutely loved them, yeah. I brought a boot in to remind myself of that. So, I had about 6, from 1971 to about 1979. They were, well it was action stations for memory. Yeah, superb.

Andrea: So thinking about your Action Men, can you describe them? How many you had, what you had?

Hugh: Well I think at its high point I probably had 6 I would say, who had different names. All around the, all sounding a bit like Ronald MacDonald, but none of them were actually called that, because MacDonald’s didn’t exist in the UK at that point, so I had no notion. But they had that sort of rounded names that were understandable. But I can’t . . . No, they were in a sort of pack, they were a group, like a commando unit. They were a very tight team you know.

Andrea: And how did you come to own them?

Hugh: Just used to get them at Christmas and birthdays. The optimum present really. I used to get either Action Man uniforms or a new Action Man, and you could buy them in a different guise. I can’t actually remember which ones I had but … I really can’t remember. They would have been military types. But they used to come as, in a uniform, or there could be a sort of sports or there could be deep sea diver, it would come with a lot of equipment to . . . well, it wouldn’t come with it, you had to get it. But every Christmas on TV, in the run up to Christmas, things were advertised on TV to chime with whatever Action Man was out. And a major innovation was that you might have started out with one with fixed positon hands in a sort of the right hand was in a trigger position and the left hand was in a muzzle support position, but that was changed in the early 70s to gripping hands so you’d have more utility. That was quite an innovation really.

06.50 – Andrea: And how did you play with them? What sorts of games?

Hugh: Usually imaginary missions. Either in the winter it would be almost certainly inside and in the summer they’d be, they’d spent a lot of time in the back yard, garden, buried. They’d have camps. Or they’d be hidden, or they’d be fighting the next door neighbours’, they’d be in a sort of team engaged in warfare with next door. So that was … Yeah, they spent a lot of time outside getting very dirty. With all their equipment.

Andrea: And how did you feel about them?

Hugh: Yeah, they were . . . I loved them, yeah. In fact, getting rid of them was quite a wrench and although I felt incredibly rich with the five pounds that I probably got for them all, it really, you know . . . It’s a shame, ‘cos a lot of things I haven’t got rid of, I have got rid of those. I spent . . . It might have been ten, it might have been nine pounds. I immediately bought, I bought a digital watch. I’d moved on. So, yeah.

08.10 – Andrea: So thinking about construction toys then. Did you play with any construction toys?

Hugh: Yeah, I had some Lego. One of the first . . . We had some Lego, ‘cos I had an older brother, so we had some left over Lego. The good thing with Lego, about Lego in those times was that it tended not to come in these sorts of sets that were linked to films or other things that were going on. It wasn’t heavily marketed. It was utility Lego, you could make anything from it. So it was only limited by your imagination really. So I would build towers as high as they could go. See if they could go as high as the ceiling, but they’d only go a couple of feet probably. So that was my first sort of, that was my first go with Lego. But what I tended to use it was, along with, I’ve brought another cue, along with some bricks, I used to build emplacements for either soldiers or Action Men to hide behind. So it was mainly for building battlements and stuff. Or set designs. So after you’d built round a square and built a house or built a wall, then it had to fulfil a purpose, it wasn’t enough just to have that. So, Lego. But mainly I got the benefit from bricks or other things that I found, found items, to construct defences with. So yeah, that was my, I suppose building or those sort of toys. Well, lots of people had them. They weren’t my main thing, they were a secondary item.

10.05 – Andrea: So any other types of construction? Construction toys, construction play?

Hugh: It wasn’t really my thing. I was given things like chemistry sets though that’s not really construction. I was given those sorts of things, though I didn’t overplay with them. They weren’t my things, no. I had to use things as secondary items. So I can’t remember receiving anything else. I mean, unless you include Airfix models as . . . You do? Okay. I did like those. Yeah, I did have quite a few of those that I used to make. And then smash up. So yeah. So I spent quite a bit of time in the late 70s making Airfix stuff. Which I haven’t got any left of. Yeah, all the standard ones that people made in those days. So that was a valuable toy. If I got that for Christmas I would then have made that by January 1st. I would have made something by then. And then after January I would have started painting it. So yeah, I was into painting. I was into that sort of construction, but it had all, it needed already to have a purpose. I think. Unless it was bricks and then I used them organically.

Andrea: So what purpose did your Airfix models have? How did you then play with them?

11.40 – Hugh: Well I think the best one that I had, I’m trying to think, but really and truly, the best one I had was the ruined fort, so there was a sort of shelled out fort that you could buy where it had sort of wall constructions. It was pretty easy to put together, there wasn’t a lot to it. But I certainly had two or three of those. Maybe even three. And that was ready made for your soldiers, your small sized soldiers to hide behind. So that was already in place, so once you’d made that you could hide anyone behind that. And then if you had something like one of those dinky cannons you could fire little shells at them. So that was good, that was always a good game. So that was probably the best thing I had, an Airfix Fort I’d say. Yeah.

Andrea: Do you have any of them or not?

Hugh: No. It’s a shame, but they were so well played with those, no, I haven’t got anything like that. I’ve got other things. I have got the soldiers, I’ve got things that are, I’ve got a lot of leftover, well, not a lot, I’ve got some left over soldiers.

Andrea: Did you define Hot Wheels as a construction toy?

Hugh: No I didn’t. I don’t define, well, it kind of is, yeah. But that was one of my favourites, yeah. And I’ve still got some Hot Wheels. I’ve got a little bit. Well, I’ve got a lot now because I’ve bought extra since. [laughs] But yeah, I’ve got Hot Wheels, brilliant, yeah. Used to make. And that was again – the key to my toys were that they needed to perform a role in summer outside and the Hot Wheels track you could then build outside as long as you possibly could so I would make it really really long from the lounge outside on the patio onto the grass, so used to run quite a long time. And it was very good.

Andrea: And would you say that was one of your favourite things?

Hugh: I would say that, I would. ‘Cos it was the gift that kept giving, it really, it had an organic nature to it, that you could build different size tracks, you could test how far the cars would go, you could number your cars and line them up, you could try and oil the wheels, you know, there were all sorts of things you could do to make that different, just different. Different lengths, different heights. Would it go down stairs? How would they stay on better, what sort of banking could you put in? I mean, all sorts of things really. Yeah, it was very effective.

Andrea: Do you still have it?

Hugh: yeah, I’ve got some. And I’ve added to it. Yeah. It didn’t degrade too badly either. Even on very hard usage outside it’s still viable. Yeah. There’s a lot of it about actually. It’s still a lot.

Andrea: So did you ever want a teddy bear, doll or construction toy that you couldn’t have?

15.00 – Hugh: I don’t think so. I think that was all . . . Probably, but I don’t think I had . . . You know, you could probably line it up at Christmas or birthday, you’d definitely get one of those things. Whether you got more I don’t know. You tended to give . . . People didn’t give you money in those days. I didn’t really get money, so I had enough interest to get enough of those sort of things to keep me going, yeah. I don’t think so, I don’t think I ever wanted for anything of those. Sometimes I thought my neighbours had more that I had which was disappointing, but that was it really.

Andrea: So are there any other memories of teddy bears, dolls or construction toys, or any other toys, that you want to mention at all?

Hugh: Well my favourite thing was board games. My father introduced me to that, as he was . . . And also to toy soldiers I suppose, because he was in the army so that played a big part in his early life, so it passed on, was readily passed on, because he at the weekends was still wanting to play games. And he used to work in the Civil Service and for some reason in those days (I’m sure it doesn’t exist now) the Civil Service shop sold games and I expect it was in London, ‘cos that’s where he worked, so he used to bring back games with a Civil Service price mark on it, £1 or whatever they were. We used to play them at the weekends, it was really . . . He used to bring them back at non Christmas, non birthday, so it was a real treat. There were board games that he brought back from there that he and I, while he was alive, we played. But it did start with, he had a friend who had a bigger layout in his dining room with campaigns and stuff, and a particular set of rules that you could make military encounters happen, that was absolutely fascinating ‘cos it was on a much larger scale and it was like a formula, there was a formula to it, so, and there was a book that went with it so that was very, very exciting. So we tried a few of those at home as well. So yeah, it was really good. So then I started a collection of board games which I now have got as my massive collection that is my major thing. And I used to play the neighbours whoever really I could. Two player or more. Played right though my teens, right into university, just carried on, haven’t really had a moment off. [laughs] So yeah, that was my thing.

18.06 – Hugh: [looking at an Action Man] Well, this is one of those pre, say pre 1971 Action Men with the hands in the fixed position so he’s got a rigid trigger finger and a rigid hand for holding the barrel. So I think in the early 70s they changed to having gripping hands, which then became a fantastic innovation, they could hold multiple tools, all the fingers could articulate, and so could the thumbs. The issue with that was they broke, they became broken on the inside of the knuckles and so fingers would fall off. Fortunately, in Brighton, in this very street here, was the doll’s hospital, where you could get that problem rectified and a new pair of hands put in so your Action Man would work, would be mended.

I think this chap is a . . . It looks like a German from the eagle, but he’s got the wrong sort of boots for a German infantryman, so I can’t quite make that out. But I’d say he is sort of early 70s, particularly with those hands. But that hair came in at the end of the late 60s, the fuzzy hair. Because that was, mid 60s, that was a hard head. That hair was an innovation as well. Good.

19m 41s – RECORDING ENDS

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14th October 2014
Location: Brighton Toy and Model Museum
Interviewer – Andrea Dumbrell
Videographer – Dan Cash

Hugh: Okay. I’m Hugh Taylor. I was born in 1966 in Hove, which is adjoined to the city we’re now in.

Andrea: It is indeed. And did you spend your childhood in Hove?

Hugh: Yes. I did mostly, yes. In fact, almost entirely.

Andrea: So when you were growing up, did you have a teddy bear?

00.23 – Hugh: I did, although I can’t remember the name of it, and I really promise I can’t. That sounds ludicrous, but I can’t. I can describe it, and that might come to me. But I can’t remember the name of it. Would you like me to describe it? Okay, it was a . . . Let’s say, for the sake of argument it was a female cat in a very flat shape about 12 inches in height. So it was not rounded, how you might expect teddy bears to look. It was like someone had made it out of flat fabric. So it was not well stuffed. Or at least by the time I got my idea and usage of it, it had got to that point where it was flattened. And it was grey coloured, with some sort of uniform and grey legs and white feet. And I must have had it since I was a baby but it, it only became liked really because of its comforting smell which must have been a sort of combination of bits of sick and snot, and other bodily functions. Smells of saliva. And it was occasionally washed, and when it was washed that was a problem because it had a different smell then. It was usually rejected at that point.

Andrea: So you said you owned it since you were a baby. Do you know where it came from?

Hugh: I’ve no idea. I suspect, because of its button type eyes that someone made it. Although if they did, it was good, because it was pretty well made. Yeah, but I’ve no idea, I’ve no idea. I’ve never seen one, I’ve never seen the like of. Yeah.

Andrea: So did you play with it?

Hugh: No. I think it, it stayed on my pillow. And I. How would you? I suppose if that is playing with it, it would be comforting at night I suspect, yeah. I smelt it a lot. If that is playing. That’s a kind of play that I recognise. Yeah.

Andrea: So how did you feel about it? How important was it?

Hugh: Yeah I suspect it was of fundamental importance for a period of time. And then when I about school age I had another one that was in much better nick, was much more understandable. It was like a panda, a small panda but it was the right sort of shape as we might imagine a teddy bear. I think what I’m thinking is that sort of Edwardian bears were much flatter, of a flattened type. This, the next one I had was more … And that had only symbolic purposes, it wasn’t played with. It may have had darts thrown at it at some stage, when I was fed up with it. But that was it.

Andrea: So do you still have either of them?

Hugh: No

Andrea: Do you know what happened to them?

Hugh: No. No idea. They disintegrated. One of them would have disintegrated. Actually, the first one I had my Auntie Gill, who was very good at sewing, used to make small clothing adjustments to it that I remember, when it became threadbare.

Andrea: So if you had a best memory of either of them, do you have a best memory of it, or just something that was there in your life?

Hugh: I’ve just had that best memory, of Auntie Gill making new clothing for it. She took the time to think, at Christmas probably, “that’s a bit threadbare” so she made a new waistcoat or something, or patched up its really thin veneer. [Laughs]

04.21 – Andrea: So did you play with any dolls?

Hugh: Yeah. Action Men, yeah. Absolutely loved them, yeah. I brought a boot in to remind myself of that. So, I had about 6, from 1971 to about 1979. They were, well it was action stations for memory. Yeah, superb.

Andrea: So thinking about your Action Men, can you describe them? How many you had, what you had?

Hugh: Well I think at its high point I probably had 6 I would say, who had different names. All around the, all sounding a bit like Ronald MacDonald, but none of them were actually called that, because MacDonald’s didn’t exist in the UK at that point, so I had no notion. But they had that sort of rounded names that were understandable. But I can’t . . . No, they were in a sort of pack, they were a group, like a commando unit. They were a very tight team you know.

Andrea: And how did you come to own them?

Hugh: Just used to get them at Christmas and birthdays. The optimum present really. I used to get either Action Man uniforms or a new Action Man, and you could buy them in a different guise. I can’t actually remember which ones I had but … I really can’t remember. They would have been military types. But they used to come as, in a uniform, or there could be a sort of sports or there could be deep sea diver, it would come with a lot of equipment to . . . well, it wouldn’t come with it, you had to get it. But every Christmas on TV, in the run up to Christmas, things were advertised on TV to chime with whatever Action Man was out. And a major innovation was that you might have started out with one with fixed positon hands in a sort of the right hand was in a trigger position and the left hand was in a muzzle support position, but that was changed in the early 70s to gripping hands so you’d have more utility. That was quite an innovation really.

06.49 – Andrea: And how did you play with them? What sorts of games?

Hugh: Usually imaginary missions. Either in the winter it would be almost certainly inside and in the summer they’d be, they’d spent a lot of time in the back yard, garden, buried. They’d have camps. Or they’d be hidden, or they’d be fighting the next door neighbours’, they’d be in a sort of team engaged in warfare with next door. So that was … Yeah, they spent a lot of time outside getting very dirty. With all their equipment.

Andrea: And how did you feel about them?

Hugh: Yeah, they were . . . I loved them, yeah. In fact, getting rid of them was quite a wrench and although I felt incredibly rich with the five pounds that I probably got for them all, it really, you know . . . It’s a shame, ‘cos a lot of things I haven’t got rid of, I have got rid of those. I spent . . . It might have been ten, it might have been nine pounds. I immediately bought, I bought a digital watch. I’d moved on. So, yeah.

08.08 – Andrea: So thinking about construction toys then. Did you play with any construction toys?

Hugh: Yeah, I had some Lego. One of the first . . . We had some Lego, ‘cos I had an older brother, so we had some left over Lego. The good thing with Lego, about Lego in those times was that it tended not to come in these sorts of sets that were linked to films or other things that were going on. It wasn’t heavily marketed. It was utility Lego, you could make anything from it. So it was only limited by your imagination really. So I would build towers as high as they could go. See if they could go as high as the ceiling, but they’d only go a couple of feet probably. So that was my first sort of, that was my first go with Lego. But what I tended to use it was, along with, I’ve brought another cue, along with some bricks, I used to build emplacements for either soldiers or Action Men to hide behind. So it was mainly for building battlements and stuff. Or set designs. So after you’d built round a square and built a house or built a wall, then it had to fulfil a purpose, it wasn’t enough just to have that. So, Lego. But mainly I got the benefit from bricks or other things that I found, found items, to construct defences with. So yeah, that was my, I suppose building or those sort of toys. Well, lots of people had them. They weren’t my main thing, they were a secondary item.

10.03 – Andrea: So any other types of construction? Construction toys, construction play?

Hugh: It wasn’t really my thing. I was given things like chemistry sets though that’s not really construction. I was given those sorts of things, though I didn’t overplay with them. They weren’t my things, no. I had to use things as secondary items. So I can’t remember receiving anything else. I mean, unless you include Airfix models as . . . You do? Okay. I did like those. Yeah, I did have quite a few of those that I used to make. And then smash up. So yeah. So I spent quite a bit of time in the late 70s making Airfix stuff. Which I haven’t got any left of. Yeah, all the standard ones that people made in those days. So that was a valuable toy. If I got that for Christmas I would then have made that by January 1st. I would have made something by then. And then after January I would have started painting it. So yeah, I was into painting. I was into that sort of construction, but it had all, it needed already to have a purpose. I think. Unless it was bricks and then I used them organically.

Andrea: So what purpose did your Airfix models have? How did you then play with them?

11.38 – Hugh: Well I think the best one that I had, I’m trying to think, but really and truly, the best one I had was the ruined fort, so there was a sort of shelled out fort that you could buy where it had sort of wall constructions. It was pretty easy to put together, there wasn’t a lot to it. But I certainly had two or three of those. Maybe even three. And that was ready made for your soldiers, your small sized soldiers to hide behind. So that was already in place, so once you’d made that you could hide anyone behind that. And then if you had something like one of those dinky cannons you could fire little shells at them. So that was good, that was always a good game. So that was probably the best thing I had, an Airfix Fort I’d say. Yeah.

Andrea: Do you have any of them or not?

Hugh: No. It’s a shame, but they were so well played with those, no, I haven’t got anything like that. I’ve got other things. I have got the soldiers, I’ve got things that are, I’ve got a lot of leftover, well, not a lot, I’ve got some left over soldiers.

Andrea: Did you define Hot Wheels as a construction toy?

Hugh: No I didn’t. I don’t define, well, it kind of is, yeah. But that was one of my favourites, yeah. And I’ve still got some Hot Wheels. I’ve got a little bit. Well, I’ve got a lot now because I’ve bought extra since. [laughs] But yeah, I’ve got Hot Wheels, brilliant, yeah. Used to make. And that was again – the key to my toys were that they needed to perform a role in summer outside and the Hot Wheels track you could then build outside as long as you possibly could so I would make it really really long from the lounge outside on the patio onto the grass, so used to run quite a long time. And it was very good.

Andrea: And would you say that was one of your favourite things?

Hugh: I would say that, I would. ‘Cos it was the gift that kept giving, it really, it had an organic nature to it, that you could build different size tracks, you could test how far the cars would go, you could number your cars and line them up, you could try and oil the wheels, you know, there were all sorts of things you could do to make that different, just different. Different lengths, different heights. Would it go down stairs? How would they stay on better, what sort of banking could you put in? I mean, all sorts of things really. Yeah, it was very effective.

Andrea: Do you still have it?

Hugh: yeah, I’ve got some. And I’ve added to it. Yeah. It didn’t degrade too badly either. Even on very hard usage outside it’s still viable. Yeah. There’s a lot of it about actually. It’s still a lot.

Andrea: So did you ever want a teddy bear, doll or construction toy that you couldn’t have?

14.58 – Hugh: I don’t think so. I think that was all . . . Probably, but I don’t think I had . . . You know, you could probably line it up at Christmas or birthday, you’d definitely get one of those things. Whether you got more I don’t know. You tended to give . . . People didn’t give you money in those days. I didn’t really get money, so I had enough interest to get enough of those sort of things to keep me going, yeah. I don’t think so, I don’t think I ever wanted for anything of those. Sometimes I thought my neighbours had more that I had which was disappointing, but that was it really.

Andrea: So are there any other memories of teddy bears, dolls or construction toys, or any other toys, that you want to mention at all?

Hugh: Well my favourite thing was board games. My father introduced me to that, as he was . . . And also to toy soldiers I suppose, because he was in the army so that played a big part in his early life, so it passed on, was readily passed on, because he at the weekends was still wanting to play games. And he used to work in the Civil Service and for some reason in those days (I’m sure it doesn’t exist now) the Civil Service shop sold games and I expect it was in London, ‘cos that’s where he worked, so he used to bring back games with a Civil Service price mark on it, £1 or whatever they were. We used to play them at the weekends, it was really . . . He used to bring them back at non Christmas, non birthday, so it was a real treat. There were board games that he brought back from there that he and I, while he was alive, we played. But it did start with, he had a friend who had a bigger layout in his dining room with campaigns and stuff, and a particular set of rules that you could make military encounters happen, that was absolutely fascinating ‘cos it was on a much larger scale and it was like a formula, there was a formula to it, so, and there was a book that went with it so that was very, very exciting., So we tried a few of those at home as well. So yeah, it was really good. So then I started a collection of board games which I now have got as my massive collection that is my major thing. And I used to play the neighbours whoever really I could. Two player or more. Played right though my teens, right into university, just carried on, haven’t really had a moment off. [*laughs*] So yeah, that was my thing.

18.02 – Hugh: well, this is one of those pre, say pre 1971 Action Men with the hands in the fixed position so he’s got a rigid trigger finger and a rigid hand for holding the barrel. So I think in the early 70s they changed to having gripping hands, which then became a fantastic innovation, they could hold multiple tools, all the fingers could articulate, and so could the thumbs. The issue with that was they broke, they became broken on the inside of the knuckles and so fingers would fall off. Fortunately, in Brighton, in this very street here, was the doll’s hospital, where you could get that problem rectified and a new pair of hands put in so your Action Man would work, would be mended.

I think this chap is a . . . It looks like a German from the eagle, but he’s got the wrong sort of boots for a German infantryman, so I can’t quite make that out. But I’d say he is sort of early 70s, particularly with those hands. But that hair came in at the end of the late 60s, the fuzzy hair. Because that was, mid 60s, that was a hard head. That hair was an innovation as well. Good.

Andrea: Thank you.

RECORDING ENDS 19m 35s

Hugh

Hugh was born in Hove in 1966. In the short version (4m 56s) of his interview he discusses Action Men. In the full version (19m 41s) he also talks about his teddy bears (one of which was a cat), Lego, Airfix models and Hot Wheels.