Thursday, July 17, 2008

Babe in toyland

Mike at Cry it Out posted a great entry today about finding a Big Wheel for his daughter Emme at a thrift store. I had a Cabbage Patch Kid themed Big Wheel when I was a kid, and we also had a yellow and black "Suzuki" Big Wheel.

I was surprised to learn that Big Wheel bikes apparently fell out of favor for quite a while, but was happy to find that Big Wheel is back and available at Target:

I've already informed MB that we will be purchasing two of these and sticking them up in the attic, just in case Big Wheels go back out of style before we sprog.

Thinking about Big Wheels got me thinking about other toys from my childhood that I absolutely loved. Of course, there were Legos and (much) later K'Nex. But I'm talking back even before that, back in the mid-80s.

*cue wavy flashback fade*

Let's talk about Tonka trucks. I had a dump truck and my cousin Macgyver had a backhoe:

I'm pleased to see that Tonka seems to be offering steel trucks again, even if they are marketing them as "classic," because for a while they only had plastic ones. I do understand why they would want to eliminate sharp edges and toys made entirely of metal, but the plastic ones just did not have the same appeal.

However, I have to say I'm disappointed and borderline offended by Tonka's marketing angle, which suggests that only boys play with Tonka trucks. Indeed, their main slogan is "Tonka:  Built for Boyhood," the Tonka Toddler line is branded as "Built for the road from baby to big boy," and the regular Tonka Trucks are marketed with the phrase "boys are built different. TONKA's got the Blueprint." Not a single action shot on the website features a girl, and every line of copy states clearly that these trucks are built for boys and only boys. I really thought we were past all the bullshit about girls playing with "girl toys" and boys playing with "boy toys." Tonka can kiss my fair white female ass, though I guess they win because they'll get my money eventually, whether I have girl children or boy children -- especially if I have girl children, actually. Hmmph. Maybe I should write them an indignant letter.

How about Construx? Did anyone else have these? They were sort of like early K'Nex in a way. There were gray plastic bars in various shapes and lengths, which could be connected together with these little blue plastic thingies that hurt like a sonofabitch when you stepped on them barefoot. I don't know what birthday it was when I got these, but I got a few sets, and I LOVED them.

Or those brilliant but broken-ankle-waiting-to-happen oddities, Pogo Balls! I wanted one forever and finally got one as a gift from my grandma, but it eventually got leaky and flat and wouldn't pogo anymore.

And, I'll admit, I loved my Barbies. I didn't get my first Barbie until I was seven, and my parents got me the Heart Family first. The Heart Family was a less scandalous option, since the mom and dad dolls were married (with wedding rings and everything) and had boy / girl twins. The year I got the Heart Family for Christmas, one of my aunts gave me a huge and completely kickass house for them that she made. She took four boxes, cut the top flaps off, and turned them on their sides to make rooms that were open in the front. She wallpapered with wrapping paper and covered the floors with faux-tile Contact Paper. The walls were decorated with pictures of clocks and paintings and cross-stitch samplers that she'd cut from catalogs. She made all the furniture in the parents' bedroom, the kids' room, and the living room out of various boxes, with hand-sewn bedclothes and pillows and couch cushions. She bought a Barbie kitchen setup with fake food and everything.

I spent literally countless hours playing with that Barbie house. My parents let me have the run of a little attic room off of our upstairs landing, and it was the Barbie Room for years. Of all the toys I loved as a child, even though I was pretty much the quintessential tomboy, I do think I might have loved my Barbie Room best of all.

How about you guys? What toys did you love best as a kid?

Reading:  Summer Blowout by Claire Cook

Playing:  Marcy Playground


  1. I tried to find as many classic toys as possible when we registered. I actually bought my hubby a GlowWorm for Christmas to give to macduff when he was born. I also found a popcorn popper and the happy telephone. I love playing 'kitchen' when I was little, but I can't really expect macduff to share my interest. Besides, I hate to cook as an adult. Pretending to cook plastic food was so much easier.

  2. I wouldn't count him out just yet. My friend KittyB bought her son a play kitchen for his 3rd birthday, and he LOVES it. And don't forget...most famous chefs are men!

  3. Yay legos, pogo balls, and big wheels! :D

    I loved my little ponies the best, and my Breyer horses. I've been meaning to find a creative/non cheesey way to display my Breyer horses actually, cos they're quite beautiful.

    Other than that we get into the realm of Ninja Turtles and Transformers.


  4. man, i'd forgotten about construx. i loved those things. the bigwheel was probably the top. i used to haul ass up and down the block on that thing, complete with screeching halts before turning around. and of course there were a lot of action figures. i remember heidi had a particular hate for he-man's nemesis, skeletor. she ate like three of those things. we'd wake up in the morning to tiny shreds of blue plastic everywhere and realize we forgot to hide him the night before. it was the only toy she ever messed with; she just hated that guy.

  5. I had a Spiderman big wheel. I was progressive, even as a child.

    I loved my Sit n Spin.