AutoTopic: What Were The Must-Have Toys When You Were A Kid?
This one is gonna be a strain on the brain, remembering all the way back there. Can you all come back after I’m fully into Alzheimer’s so I’m completely focused on that stuff? No? Damn you, AutoTopic, for luring me in and then junk-punching me with an essay question.
Anyway, I know there were must-have toys when I was a kid, and I admit I had some. Normally I acquired these at two times during the year: Christmas and my birthday. For Christmases, the normal battle drill was to sit down and meticulously page through the Sears catalog and list everything I wanted. The requirement from Mom and Dad was I had to actually write a list myself. This prevented me from just cutting the toy section out and handing that over. It required a little effort, one that was directly proportional to the length of the list. It actually limited the list, an early indicator of my future capacity for laziness. The truly funny thing is, I don’t recall using the same technique for birthdays. I think I assumed the catalog was only good up to the 26th of December.
So the answer I have to give for this AutoTopic question is this: Star Wars. Hands down winner. My Parentals toted my young butt to see it in the theater when I was in second and third grade when it released (1976), and they probably sorely regretted it for the next three years or more. To be completely honest, I am still a huge fan of Star Wars and re-watch it from time to time. The main difference between now and then is that I can use words with many more syllables to explain why I think Star Wars is awesome. At any rate, it was game-on for the spinoff toys. They dominated my want lists for at least three years, and I had an impressive collection. In fact, if I dig through the basement right now I am sure I can locate a certain action figure (because boys don’t play with dolls, dude) that I know I still have. You just do. not. throw. Yoda. away. Strong with the Force, Yoda is.
However, I think the more important component to the answer to this question are those ‘stealth toys’ that you figured you had grown out of but somehow cycle back to forever. The really enduring ones. Granted, my son would have probably pissed himself in joy had I had the foresight to keep and bequeath The Star Wars Collection upon him. My Ex/His Mom would then have equally likely put a contract on me. No, the real workhorses that somehow didn’t get donated, lost in moves, ‘accidentally misplaced’ or otherwise swept up by entropy were actually the ones that to this day I could see myself sit and play with in a moment of lighthearted, reflective time wasting (a skill at which I am a Grand Master).
Erector Set. Stop giggling, this is not a Viagra ad. I received one probably younger than I should have, and it sat in my closet for years until one day I opened it up and said, “Holy Shit! This is awesome!” Or something close to that. Afterwards I quickly deviated from the instructions and recommended projects and of course constructed weapons. My son now has the same set in his posession, but I’m not sure it has ever captured his imagination.
Lincoln Logs. Totally. F-ing. Awesome. I got my set probably when I was about four, maybe five. I can testify that I completely used that stuff up, wore the brown off the logs, and that having a set more than likely contributed to my interest in architecture and later my civil engineering degree. They’re murder to step on when lost in the carpet in the dark, but I created some kick-ass houses. I also donated these to my son. To be honest, I wish I had them back, though as much as I’d love to make little log estates, I’d also love to take measurements and make handmade grandkid sets.
had have a serious Lego addiction and apparently this is a genetic condition. In this category, Son Unit the Only completely eclipses me in his total Lego accumulation. It is like crack for the guy. I am also totally jealous of the cool shit Legos have out now. All I had back in the day were basic shapes in basic colors, and when they came up with the little Lego People that was amazing. That and clear blocks to simulate windows. Yes, I made Lego weapons. Even worse murder than a Lincoln Log to step on in the dark due to the whole corners issue. What hurt the worst was when someone other than me stepped on my Lego. Ironically, none of my Legos survived to pass on to anyone. Maybe someday they’ll drop from a hole in the sky Donnie Darko style.
I’ve grown up – physically at least – but miss the completely unstructured play time provided by completely unstructured toys. Star Wars stuff was awesome, and I had fun with it. It was must-have. However, it was definitely the non-must-have toys I miss the most.