Roll up, roll up, one and all! Under the Big Top at the Vintage Toy Box we’re celebrating the spectacular long lived tradition of the circus and all things inspired by it.
Before we dive into all our fun circus themed toys and all the fun of the fair, let’s start off by going back to where it all began …
The circus began in ancient Roman times, and was very different to the circus we know today. In ancient Rome the term ‘circus’ simply meant:
a rounded or oval arena lined with tiers of seats, used for equestrian and other sports and games, including staged battles and gladiatorial combat
In more modern times the circus is now defined as:
a travelling company of acrobats, clowns, and other entertainers who give performances, typically in a large tent, in a series of different places.
The first modern circus had its big debut in England in 1770 and featured timeless classics such as horse tricks, acrobats, tightrope walkers, jugglers and clowns, (which were only introduced to fill in the time between animal acts). A marvelous adaptation of this traditional ‘modern’ circus was The Greatest Showman movie starring Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron, which was set in the 1850s and 1860s, and inspired by the story of P.T. Barnum’s creation of the Barnum & Bailey Circus. This movie is a magical illustration of all things we love about travelling shows.
Now, after centuries the circus has grown and transformed into the amazing spectacular that we now know and love, with amazing acts such as Cirque du Soleil now taking centre stage worldwide and amazing huge audiences across the globe.
At The Vintage Toy Box we just love the spectacular show of the circus and have sourced so many fabulous circus themed toys to help you all take to the stage too.
The most common act in the circus is the juggling act, traditionally undertaken by either a clown or a trapeze artist. The art of juggling has been preserved for the past 4000 years, and can be traced back to the ancient Egyptian civilization where paintings of women jugglers were found on the walls inside a crypt.
Juggling however was not always found to be such a creative art. After the fall of the Roman Empire and the arrival of the middle ages, jugglers were often persecuted and seen as dirty scoundrels or even thought to be witches.
Despite that, juggling is, and will remain a firm family favourite. Learn to juggle with our brightly coloured juggling balls and then one day maybe you will be juggling clubs – like the clowns in the circus!
One of the acts in the circus that will leave you breathless is the diving event, which has been a key part of the circus for decades. In 1948 a record was set that stood for almost half a century by Roy Fransen – the first truly famous shallow diver. He jumped from 34 metres and landed into water that was only 2.4 metres deep! After four decades of leaving people breathless while watching him perform his acts his good fortune came to an end when he died during a performance in 1985.
You can have your very own fearless wooden diver and you can help him practice and re-enact the famous circus act.
You cannot have a circus without a clown, and clowns who make balloon animals have been a favourite among children at the circus for many years.
In the 1930s a famous clown by the name of Maar had all of his props stolen during one of his acts. He was then forced to solely rely on balloons to entertain his crowd. The story goes that he invented balloon modelling right there on the spot, amazing his audience of young and old. It has since turned into one of the favourite acts to be performed by clowns and child entertainers alike.
With our retro Balloon Modelling Kit you can make multiple different animals, with 40 balloons and a pump you will be able to perfect the art of balloon modelling in no time!
The Jack-in-the-box is centuries old. Most of the brightly coloured boxes feature either a clown or a joker that pops out when the handle on the outside of the box is turned to a certain position, as the music plays. The most popular tune to be played is ‘pop goes the weasel’.
In 2005 the Jack-in-the-box was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame due to its timeless charm that has captivated the interest of children for decades.
Our Circus musical Jack-in-the-box features a clown and has bright playful pictures on all sides. Build the suspense as you wind the crank, not knowing when Jack will pop out!
Fun fact: In France a Jack-in-the-box is called Diable En Boite which means Devil in a box!
Spinning tops are among the oldest toys to ever be unearthed. A clay top was discovered in Iraq and was dated 35th century – that’s almost 6000 years ago! Another notable find is a wooden top that was found in the tomb of King Tut in Egypt and Roman tops that were made out of bone. Spinning tops made of fruits, nuts and shells have been discovered on every continent around the world – except for Antarctica.
Spinning tops come in all different shapes, sizes and colours and are made from various types of material.
Our spinning tops are made from tin and are brightly coloured just like the colours of the circus. Grab one today and see how long you can make it spin for, or even have a spin-off with some buddies. The world record for a spinning top continuously spinning is 50 minutes - can you beat it?
Take a bit of the circus home with you with some of our other fabulous circus inspired toys including:
Create a circus kit - Perfect for little ones to explore their imagination as they built and perform classic circus tricks with this beautiful circus craft kit.
Circus Tattoos - Cover yourself with these awesome temporary tattoos which includes ten different designs, featuring the strong man and ferris wheel among other cool circus designs.
Monkey Trapeze - Help these cute little monkeys practice their trapeze skills. Just squeeze the poles at the bottom and watch them flip – around and around they go!
Circus Jigsaw Puzzles - These jigsaw puzzles are as great and entertaining as the circus, so lets combine the two! We’ve got four beautifully designed circus inspired puzzles by French designer Londji:
We can even help you re-create the whole circus show with our beautiful wooden circus sets:
Circus Safari Jeep - A beautifully vibrant wooden circus play set with a fun collection of colourful characters.
Circus Play Set - Kids are guaranteed to use their imagination and creativity to put on a top notch performance with this wonderfully unusual wooden play set from Artiwood.
Collect all of our fabulous circus toys and more in store and online!