The AC Gilbert Company focused on educational toys for boys (girls weren't supposed to be interested in such things) in the 40s, 50s and 60s... I had one of their erector sets and it has been passed on to my niece and her kids (hopefully her daughter will play with it too). I'm sure it is built well enough to move through a few more generations.
The telescopes and microscopes had pretty awful optics. If you wanted a decent telescope back then you pretty much had to make your own. Now days very nice telescopes can be had for similar sums (inflation adjusted) and a bit more will get you into fairly serious territory. A problem is the toy stores are full of garbage - so a person has to have a bit of knowledge.
Navigating the microscope landscape is a bit more difficult, but there are very nice used examples and adding a digital camera and doing image processing on a PC can lead to remarkable results.
But chemistry suffered. The early chemistry sets had some dangerous experiments and product safety has pretty much rendered the current crop uninteresting.
There were also electrics kits - often with real vacuum tubes. Sort of a gateway drug to amateur radio.
But my favorite was the short-lived atomic energy kit. They were before my time, but I really wanted the unsold example kept high up on a dusty old shelf in the local toy store.
But the real exotica came from Bell Labs. While I was in school I never heard about them, but the Labs had an outreach that produced serious kit aimed at high school students. Much deeper and more exotic than anything else out there and more at the level of the Amateur Scientist columns that appeared in Scientific American over the years. Since then a few other serious kits have appeared, mostly by well meaning science ed types who don't realize there is almost zero market for such things (sad, but true).
It was an interesting time - imagine the popular magazines of today running this nice variation of the periodic table now...
On the other hand - interested kids and amateurs have better access to information and pointers to rather deep science and engineering education these days that were almost impossible to put together even 15 years ago.