This was the era of See ‘n Say (still available under the Fisher-Price brand, which was acquired by Mattel in 1993), the cuddly Baby Beanie Doll (not to be confused with Beanie Babies! And only available today as an, uh… antique), along with countless other playtime companions that filled nurseries and captured young imaginations.
From the Tuff Stuff toys (oh, those iconic play shopping carts, strollers, drills, saws, mixers, sewing machines & more!) to the Putt-Putt race car and train sets, Mattel was a master at creating toys that offered fun while fostering learning and creativity.
Their range of offerings in these two decades was extensive, demonstrating a keen understanding of children’s developmental stages, and the way little ones have a perpetual desire for engaging play.
This collection of vintage Mattel toys from the 70s and 80s catered to the littlest of our kind: toddlers and preschoolers.
If you were a kid (or parent) during these years, be prepared for a wave of nostalgia! And even if you weren’t, you can enjoy a peek into the colorful and tactile play world of this bygone era.
Bugs Bunny See N Say Talking Phone (1978)
Vintage Mattel toys: Hug ‘N Talk Dolls (1978)
Hug ‘N Talk Dolls: New dolls that run on hugs, not batteries. Hug ’em and you can get one of six different sayings.
Tuff-Stuff toys for bigger, stronger kids by Mattel (1980)
Today’s kids are bigger, stronger, and tougher on kids. Mattel Preschool Tuff Stuff toys are built to take it.
Today’s kids are really hard on toys. But Mattel Preschool’s ready for them! We’re even tougher on our toys than they are. We drop them, stress them, and strain them. And if they’re tough enough make it, they’re tough enough for today’s kids.
Tuff Stuff trucks keep truckin’. Kids love our Tuff Stuff trucks because they’re made of practically indestructible plastic. That’s why they can go where other toys can’t. And go where kids want to go most; the rough, the sand, and the mud. You don’t have to worry if you leave their Tuff Stuff Fire Truck out in the rain all night, either. Besides being tough, Tuff Stuff truck caddies are also rust-proof.
Our trucks really look like the trucks rolling down the highway. accident. We designed them realistically so your little truck driver’s imagination could really get in gear. Kids can play with our trucks real truck drivers.
For example, Skip Loader has a bucket that really scoops, lifts, and carries. Our Dump Truck really carries and dumps loads. Our Fire Truck really comes to the rescue with a ladder that goes up, down, and around.
Tow Truck really tows. In that, it tows any of our other trucks. And that’s really fun! Realistic trucks can carry a kid a long way. That’s why we keep our Tuff Stuff trucks so big and true-to-life.
Vintage Mattel toys: Happy Hoot Fun Desk with blackboard, easel & erasers
See ‘N Say – Spin the dial & hear a sound (1978)
See ‘N Say toys “The Farmer Says” and “The Zookeeper Says”: Listening and learning fun. You set the dial and pull the string to hear 12 different barnyard or zoo animal sounds.
Retro toys for kids — Tuff Stuff by Mattel (1970s)
Tuff Stuff Appliances and Tools! They sound and feel like the real thing! For hours of pretend playing.
Play Mixer — Pull the cord. Press the button. It whirrs and beater spins!
Play Saw — It whirrs and saw vibrates!
Play Sewing Machine — It whirrs and the “pretend needle” moves up and down safely!
Play Drill — It whirrs and the rotor turns!
Vintage Mattel toys: Tuff-Stuff Play Shoppin’ Basket (1978)
The Tuff-Stuff Play Shoppin’ Basket comes with twelve play groceries. It’s perfect for girls and boys. It will not rust. Tough, durable, and sturdy.
Putt-Putt toddler toys by Mattel (1976)
Mattel’s Putt-Putt. For kids who like to go chug-chug, beep-beep, and vroom-vroom.
Putt-Putt toys toddle along with just a little kid power. No batteries ever! Pert and perky, they’re rugged hardwood vehicles with colorful plastic trim. Some work with sturdy spring-wound motors that set them in motion. Or, you can rev up the power Putt-Putt vehicles by pressing down and pushing forward. Watch them go, followed by a trail of giggles!
Motor Railroad: Here’s the Putt-Putt daddy of them all. ‘Tracks, train, flat car, tunnel, station. The works. And still going chugging along.
Race Car with Launcher Vroom. One push and it’s off to the races.
Power Vehicles! Rev’em up and let ’em roll. Any kid can do it.
Fire Station with Launcher Push. And whoosh… the fire engine speeds away.
Vintage Mattel toys: Putt-Putt All Aboard! Motor Railroad toy (1978)
Putt-Putt All Aboard! Motor Railroad: Wind-up train stops at the depot to load Putt-Putt passengers. Thirteen-piece set.
Preschool toy See ‘N Say by Mattel (1988)
Sound Education. Learning’s just a game for preschool kids when they play with See’N Say toys. The alphabet will become second nature when they get The Bee Says into their hands.
They will moo, oink, and quack with The Farmer Says. Giggle at nursery rhymes with Mother Goose Says. And have a great time learning to spell with Spelling Fun-Damentals. See’N Say from Mattel Preschool. Teaching toys that are as much fun as they sound.
Vintage Mattel preschool toy: Rockie Rollies School Bus (1978)
Rockie Rollies School Bus: The fun school bus that’s three toys in one! A school bus. a play school, and four kids that’ll rock when you roll ’em. 16 pieces total!
Melody Love Notes Doll and other Mattel brand toys (1978)
Melody Love Notes Doll: Squeeze her and play a song. Tuff-Stuff Shoppin’ Basket and Rockie Rollies School Bus are also shown. Mattel Preschool. Santa’s helper for 33 years.
Mattel’s Tuff-Stuff toys for kids (1976)
The younger we are, the older we want to be. It’s human nature. So kids love Tuff Stuff toys. Sturdy, brightly colored, slightly glorified replicas-of-the-real-thing. Perfect for pretending.
They’re made to take tough treatment. Extra-hardy plastic with nearly impossible to tear-apart parts. After all, as long as your kids’ imagination is still going, you want to be sure our Tuff Stuff is going strong, too.
Mattel’s Putt-Putt Bumpety Race set (1978)
Putt-Putt Bumpety Race Set: Wind-up dune buggies race around the ‘”bumpety” track again and again. Lots of action.
Mattel’s Hub-Bubs animal toy set (1976)
Mattel’s Hub-Bubs. When it comes to letting kids use their imagination: Hub-Bubs really work.
Imagine a charming storybook land where all the little people are little animals. Where every little animal person has a specific people job to do. And seems very happy doing it, too. This is the world of the Hub-Bubs, where make-believe is an endless source of creativity.
Put the Hub-Bubs animals in place in their own building, turn the handle and each animal moves busily at its task. Or, take any of the Hub-Bubs and bounce it up and down — Mrs. Cat will rock her baby, Mr. Bear waves his stop sign, and Mrs. Owl shakes her ruler.
Kids invent all kinds of imaginative ways to play with Hub-Bubs. It’s a whole enchanted land a kid can set in motion. The Hub-Bubs come alone or with buildings that connect together. Build a town, collect Hub-Bubs, and keep kids playing, happily ever after.
Happy Hollow Set — All the buildings join together. Put the animals in place, crank the handle, and watch the Hub-Bubs move! Includes Schoolhouse, Family Home. Fire Station, Mail Truck, seven Hub-Bubs animals and accessories.
Mattel Tuff-Stuff Saw and Drill toys (1988)
Get your kids into the construction business — with the Tuff Stuff Saw and Drill. You’ll open up their minds to a whole new world of fascinating projects. Such as building spaceships in the basement. Or fences in the backyard. They may even offer to remodel the entire house. You can’t imagine all the things they’ll be able to accomplish.
The Tuff Stuff Saw and Drill from Mattel Preschool. The right tools for constructive minds.
Vintage Mattel toys: Talking and musical toys (1976)
Mattel’s talking and musical toys. Because kids like toys that have something to say.
It’s not just what you say. It’s the amusing way you say it. And our talking and musical toys really know how to speak a kid’s language. With good conversation. Friendly sounds. Even an introduction to music. No batteries, of course. We don’t want good talk to run down.
Toys shown include Love Notes Melody Doll, See ‘n Say: The Farmer Says, Clown Jack-in-the-Box, Snoopy Jack-in-the-Box, Talking Baby Beans Doll, My Very Own Phone, and Musical Cowboy Ge-Tar.
Vintage Mattel toys: See ‘N Say Talking-Learning System educational toy (1980)
Mattel Preschool Tuff Stuff wheelbarrow toy (1979)
Only Mattel Preschool makes a complete line of durable Tuff Stuff toys. Like this wheelbarrow, every Tuff Stuff toy can weather just about anything. Even kids! That’s because we make Tuff Stuff toys rugged and sturdy. All washable. All with rustproof bodies. And we safety-test them mercilessly.
Mattel Preschool Tuff Stuff Doll Stroller (1977)
Christmas fun is waiting in every bright Mattel Preschool package with the bold red border. This one is the tough, durable, Tuff Stuff Doll stroller.
Love Notes Nellie Doll: She plays lovely music when squeezed. Chatter Chums Mickey Mouse: He says 8 different things.
Mattel First Wheels afor kids (1980)
Today’s little kids want to do what the big kids do. Little kids want to play with all those realistic-looking metal cars the big kids love to play with.
Mattel Preschool understands, but wants them to play it safe. That’s why we’ve designed little die-cast metal cars that are the perfect first cars for preschoolers.
What makes First Wheels so perfect for preschoolers? We considered curious little fingers very carefully. We pounded away pinch points. Round-ed off sharp edges. Put on wheels that are designed to stay on and resist tugging. We made everything a little bigger. And then safety-tested everything thoroughly. As a result, little kids can’t tell the difference between First Wheels and big-kid cars. But mothers and Mattel Preschool can. And we think that’s a perfect solution.
We matched all the excitement of big kid cars. We did it 12 exciting times. everything from Bulldozers to Fire Chief Cars. We even have the perfect place for kids to play with First Wheels. Our Big Dig Construction Site is a big favorite with little construction bosses.
There’s “work” to do. Loads scooped and poured. A garage to go in and out of. A play gas pump for refueling. There’s no stopping until Mom blows the lunch whistle. Mattel Preschool First Wheels are the perfect first cars for little kids. They were made for each other.
Mattel Preschool Wonder Blocks are built for little kids. Little kids just love to play with those finicky interlocking blocks. Just their little hands have trouble getting them together and taking them apart. And that’s no fun. That’s why Mattel Preschool makes Tuff Stuff Wonder Blocks. They’re big chunky shapes. Perfect shapes for tiny fingers.
Interlocking Wonder Blocks are simple to put together and simple to take apart. So it’s easy for little kids to make big statements. And that’s constructive to their development and growth.
Ordinary blocks just go up and down. Wonder Blocks, on the other hand, can also go around. Yes, in circles. They have rounded edges to actually turn corners. As a result, the architectural possibilities are almost endless. Kids can get really creative. Your little Frank Lloyd Wright can build in circles constructing imaginary coliseums, skyscrapers, or, of course, old-fashioned castles. Square or round, whatever your little one dreams up.
The ways your kids can play with Wonder Blocks are endless, too. They can link them together to create anything from a zigzag to a slinky make-believe train.
And to ensure your little ones will enjoy Tuff Stuff Wonder Blocks for a long time, we make them out of the perfect building material. It’s a practically indestructible plastic. Tough enough to stand up to all the ways today’s kids play.
There are three different sets of Wonder Blocks to collect: starter, intermediate, and master. Want some constructive advice? The best building blocks for your preschoolers are Tuff Stuff Wonder Blocks. They’re built for little kids.
Safe vintage toys for babies & preschoolers (1980)
Today’s kids need toys that keep up with them. Babies outgrow toys as fast as their clothes. So Mattel Preschool thinks today’s kids (and moms) need toys that can keep growing, too.
That’s why our merry, musical Rail Runner train is a good investment. At first, babies find its slow motion and lullaby music so soothing, they can be lulled to sleep. It runs for about 15 minutes on one windup. No batteries are needed. Later on, it’s fun to push around. Then, just attach a string and Rail Runner is fun to pull when the baby’s walking.
Our Tumble Turvy Triangle has a funny face that turns into an even funnier face as your baby turns him sideways. What a clown! A flurry of color and whirring sounds that will keep the baby fascinated and happy for a long, long time.
The Mattel Preschool Bear’s Bus with Softuf Bear will be fun down the road. The wheels click, the bumper beeps and the baby can make a moving picture in the back window by simply turning the knob. You’ll see our whole world of baby toys has something in common. They’re the kinds of toys that keep up with today’s kids. And today’s busy moms.
Mattel preschool learning toys & books (1982)
Mattel children’s toys for today’s kids (1980)
Times have changed. Kids have changed. Education, TV, and jet travel have helped make today’s kids more aware of the world.
And while the world is getting smaller, today’s kids — part of a health-conscious generation — are getting bigger. And stronger. Today’s families are changing, too. With more working moms and single parents, kids are becoming more independent.
For all these reasons, kids need toys as different as they are. Mattel Preschool has developed some of the most contemporary toys… working with educators, scientists, and, of course, today’s kids. We make toys that help today’s kids better understand the world. It will make a big difference — tomorrow.
Mattel brand toys for preschoolers (1978)
Fun O’Clock Learning Clock: Helps to teach how to tell time in four ways. Jack-in-the-Music-Box: Clown pops up to “Pop Goes the Weasel”
Hub-Bubs Rooty-Toot Train toy (1977)
Hub-Bubs Rooty-Toot Train: When a little child makes the train move, the little animals wiggle. And when the Hub-Bubs wiggle, your child will giggle.
Vintage Fun O’Clock Learning toy by Mattel (1977)
Fun O’Clock Learning Clock: Teaches time in 4 different ways. Read the hands, see the digital numbers, count the marbles, and hear the chimes. The See-through back shows gears.
Cute children’s toys for little ones (1975)
Little kids love Mattel toys no matter how little they cost. You can’t put a price on fun. Whether a toy costs $14 or $4, it should be fun. To make sure ours are, we test them with lots of little kids.
We know what little kids like. The Mattel Cowboy Musical Ge-Tar lets kids plunk a tune. Turn the handle and it plays by itself. Little kids like to play rough and tumble. So we made our little Putt-Putt toys of sturdy hardwood and plastic.
We knew our Chatter Pal Camera was a winner by how often its string was pulled. Our Clown Jack not only jumps up, but plays a tune. My Very Own Phone keeps kids listening and learning for hours. And we never saw a little kid yet who didn’t find our Itsy Bitsy Beans dolls the huggingest little bundles ever.
Birthdays don’t have to cost a fortune. You have kids. Your friends have kids. Your kids have friends. And they all have birthdays. Give them the kind of toys you know will make them happy. With the kind of price tags we know will make you happy, too.
Remember this retro Tuff-Stuff Play Drill? (1978)
Tuff-Stuff Play Drill: It sure moves and sounds real! Safety-tested. Tough, durable, and sturdy.