Jason and the Argos Gnomes (Part Nineteen): The Bluebird A-La-Cart Kitchen

Great for that delicacy of jam swiss roll and baked beans

Mummy got her new microwave for Christmas. My brother liked his train set. Daddy loved the aftershave my brother bought him.

I loved my toys, loved my Girls World doll head off grandma, and my giant ice cream dolly off Auntie Pat. But I really wanted one of these…

The A La Cart Kitchen

During the 1980s, Bluebird Toys was one of the UK’s leading toy makers. Among its greatest successes that decade was The Big Yellow Teapot, a dolls house set inside the said artefact. Most of its toys were educational and mirrored real life situations.

Among its biggest successes was the A La Cart Kitchen. Decked in primary colours, it comprised of a toy cooker on a wheelbarrow style chassis. Included was toy plates, utensils, saucepans and pretend food items. In other words, miniature boxes of everyday items like Bisto gravy powder and Ryvita.

The mildly unsettling advertisement, seen below, shows a girl (played by Kathryn Taylor-Knight) preparing what she thought was The Dish of Kings. Baked beans and jam swiss roll. Then she brings the dish up to her father and pulls his big toe.

Bluebird Toys was founded in 1980 by Torquil Norman, an Old Etonian and graduate of Harvard and Trinity College, Cambridge. He gained a pilots’ licence at the age of eighteen and did his National Service at the Fleet Air Arm. After leaving he purchased a Piper Comanche, flew in No. 601 Squadron RAF.

He entered the toy industry after being an investment banker in the USA, and in 1973, he became the Chief Executive for Berwick Timpo. The company’s later successes included Oh Penny, Polly Pocket and Mighty Max playsets. The company was sold to Mattel in 1998.

Among his five children is Jesse Norman, the Conservative Party MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire. Prior to winning his seat, he worked for Barclays Bank from 1991 to 1997, and he was also a Senior Fellow at the Policy Exchange think-tank. He replaced Liberal Democrats MP Paul Keetch in the 2010 General Election.

  • Argos Catalogue edition: Autumn/Winter 1985;
  • Page and item numbers: page 297, item 14;
  • 1985 Prices: £22.95;
  • 2014 Prices: £64.43.

S.V., 19 December 2014.


One thought on “Jason and the Argos Gnomes (Part Nineteen): The Bluebird A-La-Cart Kitchen

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  1. I think it was the John Craig catalogue that I used to drool over. For two years I wished and wished for that Sindy House. At £26.95 I hadn’t a hope in hell… (& I was a little bit too old for an A la Carte kitchen but was still rather jealous when a certain lassie on your street (Sv) got one!! You know who you are – Ms Show Off Melanie! X


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