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Fisher-Price Little People then and now

Fisher-Price Little People have been a beloved toy for decades–did you know they date back to 1950? My family owned a few Little People sets, my favorite being the tudor-style house with the working doorbell and garage. My grandparents had a few older sets with people made from wood. They were classic toys that were a lot of fun to play with and enabled us to use our imaginations.

Vintage Little People doll house from Fisher-Price

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At first I was a bit taken aback when I became a mom and discovered how much Little People had changed since I was a kid. I wasn’t sure if I liked the new toys or not. Now that my son is three, however, the verdict is in–Fisher-Price Little People are still high quality, durable toys that kids love. Which do I like better: the vintage style from my childhood, or the (admittedly safer) version on store shelves today? It’s tough to choose.

I think overall the craftsmanship of the vintage Little People toys is superior. The plastic is of higher quality, and the pieces (with the exception of the peg-like people) are slightly more realistic and true to scale. That said, I do remember that the stickers were prone to peeling and being ripped off, which made for a less cosmetically pleasing toy after a while. I liked that the people figures were easy to fit into the spaces designed for them on vehicles and furniture.

Fisher Price Little People Play Family Camper

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The newer Little People are much chunkier and less likely to end up lodged in a child’s throat (I do remember all of us kids putting our Little People in our mouths at least once, but thankfully we all made it this far alive). They have cute, friendly faces, unlike the rather bizarrely fascinating “angry boy” you could get with the older sets. The animals are much more realistic. The figures are made from a softer plastic (vinyl, I believe), not the hard plastic or wood of old. I really appreciate the attention to detail on the figures, and so does my son–he used to pretend to talk on a tiny little phone that one of his men is holding. The painting on each figure is colorful and neat. They fit a bit more snugly into vehicles, which I find a bit annoying, but at least it keeps them in place.

Little People vintage angry boy and new Michael figure

The vintage angry boy has its charm, but the new figure is cute and detailed

The buildings and other accessories that come with newer sets are hit or miss. There are some we love, like our toy barn (but oh, how I miss that mooing cow on the old version!), a fire station and the airplane. Our parking garage, with a ramp that frequently comes apart and a jerky elevator that is difficult to operate, is a complete disappointment and far inferior to the version my siblings and I played with for years.

Newer Little People Parking Garage

The newer Little People parking garage is lacking in quality and craftsmanship.

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I guess I’m okay with the fact that many of the toys use batteries, but I think it’s clever how many older Fisher-Price toys managed to make fun sounds without. Some of the newer Little People toys are destined to be classics, while others are duds.

At age three my son is playing with his Little People like never before. They line up to wait for the school bus, they put out fires and build new roads. They even come to mommy for cuddles and kisses once in a while. It gives me so much satisfaction to see him enjoying his toys and using his imagination to play pretend. So, this Christmas will be the third year that he receives Little People toys under the tree. I was fortunate to be able to attend a toy consignment sale this morning and snap up three fun sets for just $14!

Fisher Price Little People toys

My consignment sale finds. All this for $14.00!

The toys are such great quality that even though they’re played with, they don’t show much if any wear. A quick dip in a hot soapy bath (the larger pieces were wiped down with Clorox Anywhere spray) and they are more than suitable to serve as Christmas gifts and be played with for several more years to come.

Wash Little People figurines in soap and water

Little People figures are easy to wash with hot soapy water.

As for me, I wouldn’t mind if Santa brought me this adorable Christmas ornament that Hallmark put out this year…

Hallmark Little People house Keepsake ornament

So, what do you think? Are you all about vintage or do you love the newer toys just as much?

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