Boys years ago (I’m talkin’ the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s and thereabouts) played with toy soldiers, warriors and model electric trains and girls played with dolls. Who can forget G. I. Joe and Barbie and Ken? Things haven’t changed that much with toys except the parts move, they are larger and electronics have made many of them mobile. Fortunately for parents they don’t come with working, ringing cell phones to add to the noise. Not surprisingly, doll houses are still popular –complete with electric accessories. Classified ads still list articles of interest for collectors of the aforementioned toys. Not a bad investment idea if ones retirement plan has been depleted by the economic meltdown. Toys conjuring up the past can be good hobbies for retirees. Recently on line ads announced specials on toy kitchens. These were also popular forty and fifty years ago and the oven actually cooked muffins! Well a muffin. The heat came from a 15 watt bulb and it took all day to make one muffin. Today’s toy kitchens are somewhat more advanced; they have more heating power and a wider variety of things to cook.
These days you can also buy toys which are action figures. Some are by-products of hit movies such as “Toy Story”. Buzz Ranger and Dr. Who are all the rage. But, for me, they can’t hold a candle to Robot Commando who was mobile and could fire a missile from his head on command, thus breaking imported Christmas balls on the tree. Great Garloo could also move on treads and possessed devastating damage capabilities too; it could crush low-hanging tree ornaments. Motorized armored tanks would easily climb mountains of dirt or opened wrapping paper and could climb stairs and maneuver into perfect position for adults to stumble upon! And speaking of stumbling, roller skates have been enjoyable toys for some 100 years. Just slap a board on them and you’ve got a popular current toy—the roller skate surf board. But, in thinking about toys, it occurred to me that sometimes simple is better and leads to longevity.
What toy is about fifty years old, can be played with equal enthusiasm among children, adults and dogs, is a staple on college campuses and can also catch the drips from a greasy cheeseburger? It’s the …Frisbee. Classified ads in newspapers announce the formation of teams to play with it as a football. We played with it as kids mesmerized by its ability to curve, come back and to hover seemingly forever before gently falling to earth, into one’s hands or a dog’s mouth! Little did we know in the 1960’s this toy would gain such popularity and also lead to romantic encounters when played in later life on campuses on beaches and in parks? It could be treated as a football for touch-football games or also for Keep Away. One can find ads in the classifieds for dog trials who will show their prowess with the Frisbee in snaring competions—for prize money! These events are televised due to sponsorship by animal food makers such as Purina. Who would have thought humble, plastic platters would achieve such longevity as popular toys? A poor relative of the Frisbee but equally as old and just as inexpensive is the hoola-hoop. It has been enjoyed by many regardless of age through the decades and is a staple today in aerobic exercises and cheerleading routines. It makes me wonder how the simple idea toys can become the inventions which make millions of dollars and have the popularity of electronic toys. Yes, electronics have changed our lives but when it comes to toys things haven’t really changed that much at all!
The author, Kristi, as a child and later as a parent enjoyed toys such as dolls and Frisbees with friends and family. When March rolled around she avidly scanned the classifieds for Little League tryouts and toys took a back seat. The classified ads also list toys for sale , toy collectibles-a hobby which she enjoys.