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August 31, 2008 / Maleesha Kovnesky

Little People – Then and Now

I love Little People.  I am not talking about little people, I am talking about Little People, the toys that you can stick on the end of your fingers.

I don’t think that I will generate a lot of disagreement when I say that Little People of yore were waaaaaay better than Little People of Today.  Today’s little people are larger and rounder (kind of like REAL people today, I suppose…) than the thin, featureless Little People of yore. 

(Images borrowed from various Internet sources)

Little People of Today

Little People of Yore

 

I hate using/paying for EBay, but I bought an overpriced EBay vintage Little People Western Town playset under the guise it was for my son.  It’s not.  I let him keep it in his room, but it’s really mine.  I loved the horses:

And the mom:

And the farmer:

I suppose that the vintage Little People were choking hazards or something.  But I can tell you that my son prefers my his vintage Little People over the fat little People he has in his toybox.  Oh sure, the new little people have arms and legs and more detailed expressions on their faces…but I think that’s where the toy industry went wrong.  Adults Kids want to use their imaginations.  We They don’t need arms on their toys, they can imagine them there.  Limbs frozen into one position can only be played with in one way.  But limbless, freakish toys like Little People (of yore) can be imagined into countless situations. 

When I rule the Universe, all the new Little People will be melted into a giant plastic mountain so all the vintage Little People have a place to hike.  With apologies to Fisher-Price, the new Little People are really lame.

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20 Comments

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  1. Gee Bee / Nov 3 2010 9:24 pm

    I agree! The original vintage Little People were magic! I did like some of the “new” Little People that were recently made in the old classic style: http://littlepeoplemeetmrpotatohead.com/Commemorativefp.html

  2. Stop Pop Ups / May 28 2010 2:47 pm

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  3. Francisca Schneidtmille / Apr 19 2010 7:40 pm

    Wow, excellent article and fantastic examples, Liam! You hit on a ton of great points here, this will be a resource I will come back back to often.

  4. Katharine Swan / Dec 10 2008 3:18 pm

    FYI — sorry, the blog post with the video isn’t live yet, as I forgot that I had it scheduled for Friday. Please check it out then. 🙂

  5. Katharine Swan / Dec 10 2008 3:17 pm

    I’m the same way — I MUCH prefer vintage Little People to the new ones! Someone observed recently to me that the new ones have more personalities, but I told her that the old ones left more open to the imagination. Why would you want the personalities already chosen for you?!

    Unfortunately, my mom got rid of all our Little People stuff once we stopped playing with it as much. I’m determined that my kids will have vintage Little People, though, so I’m hunting some of it down.

    I found the A-frame house, the airport, and the airplane that someone was giving away on Freecycle, and bought some Little People furniture, baby stuff, and people to go with it. I’m not done looking yet, either!

    Here’s a really cute Little People video that, incidentally, shows the brown horse pulling a coach. I don’t remember the coach — does anyone know what set that belonged to??

    thanks for posting! I will check this out on Friday!

  6. Courtney / Sep 26 2008 11:44 am

    At one time, there was someone on the web photographing certain LP in different places detailing their adventure – it was really cute. I’m looking to see if it is still on the web somewhere.

    Ooh, do come back and report on it if you find it…

  7. Courtney / Sep 26 2008 11:40 am

    I had the vintage little people and absolutely LOVED THEM!!! Me and a girlfriend of mine played with them until we were at least 14. We loved them better than Barbie! My mother still has them all stored at her house. I am hoping to one day have a whole room dedicated to my collection! I miss playing with them every day. Even at 36, I still wish that I could. I MISS THEM!!!

  8. bluesuit12 / Sep 4 2008 7:46 am

    HAHA!! My mom still has all those vintage little people in a box at her house – complete with the dog even. I remember having a couple of cars and a school house with a real bell on top. Good times.

  9. Audrey / Sep 2 2008 1:55 pm

    My god you crack me up! I don’t how many times I have had this conversation w/ my sisters. When we were little we had the barn (it mooed!), the hospital and a very cool camping set that included a jeep and pop up trailer and a bunch load of accessories. I don’t know what ever happend to the camping set, but my mom still has everything else. My son plays w/ them at her house. We have the newer, but not better, Little People at home and he doesn’t understand that these used to be so much cooler.
    I’m glad to see someone else feels the way I do! Ahhh to be a child of the 80s.

  10. Greg / Sep 2 2008 12:24 am

    Wow! This takes back to the early seventies. Me and my sister had these. I have to admit that I never knew them as “little people” though. We just called them the “Fisher-Price people”.

    We had every single one of those old wooden people in the pictures you posted, including the dog (my favorite). They came with the auto shop/garage with the cool little car elevater that took the car to the top and then sent it down a winding ramp back to the street. I wish auto repair was that easy in real life.

    I can’t belive I’m talking about this. Thanks for bringing back such a fond memory.

    I had the farm and the Western town. I loved the Little People. I still do, actually!

  11. Allison / Sep 1 2008 2:27 pm

    P.S. I really don’t like the updated Strawberry Shortcake and friends. Strawberry should be wearing a pinafore, not jeans.

    OMG, jeans?! I haven’t seen this yet.

  12. Allison / Sep 1 2008 2:26 pm

    Can I tell you how many new wave Little People we have. My friend with twins hands them down by the boxload.

    I can’t recall having Little People as a child, but I think I had the barn that mooed as a child, so surely I had Little People. How could I forget such a detail??

    I really like the picture of the vintage mom.

  13. teeni / Aug 31 2008 7:03 pm

    It’s about time someone tackled this problem. I’ve hated the new little people from the first time I set eyes on them. Why, oh why did they change from quality wooden toys that fit like a puzzle piece into their accessories? They could have just made them the same only bigger if they were a choking hazard. The new ones are too detailed and busy, the vintage ones allow imagination to come into play. I miss these and I love your idea about the mountain for the vintage little people to hike. I will help you build it. 🙂

  14. morethananelectrician / Aug 31 2008 6:23 pm

    We have three whole shelves dedicated to Little People. Two castles (him and her style) a farm and a house along with vehicles, horses, carriages and lord knows how many people. I rememebr those old wooden people, but I really never thought about them being little people. I seem to remember a bus for them too.

  15. Christine / Aug 31 2008 6:14 pm

    My little people farm horse was brown. 😀

    Mine too…I had a black cow, I think. And there was some kind of a chicken, and a dog, and I really loved the re-arrangeable fence!

  16. Stacey / Aug 31 2008 11:49 am

    My grandma had Sesame Street Little People. They were my favorite. You could even make Oscar pop in and out of his trash can.

  17. smalltownsmalltimes / Aug 31 2008 8:04 am

    Clarification: I mean, friendlier looking with all their bright colors and outstretched arms…but I’m with you on the imaginary selves of the vintage ones…and isn’t imagination what it’s all about?

  18. smalltownsmalltimes / Aug 31 2008 8:00 am

    OMG — I LOVE these pictures of the vintage people. You could enlarge them, frame them and show them in a gallery…or put them in a playroom. The lighting and shadows are incredible.

    I love the old LP — they remind me of playing on the floor at my grandma’s house.

    But the new LP are a friendlier lot, aren’t they?

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