Thinking back on some of the toys that I had when I was younger and how important they were is like yet another trip down memory lane. Take for example bathtub boats. How was a guy supposed to survive something so atrocious as a bath without boats and other floatable toys? I was very attracted to the colors of the plastic. Once they filled with water and sank to the bottom of the tub, it was great to tip em up and watch the water come pouring out. Somewhere in between this whole process, I managed to get clean.
I also had a bunch of those old plastic cars that sold for a nickel or dime. They too came in bright colors with plastic snap-on axles and solid color wheels. When I was in first grade, my parents were so broke that for my birthday, they bought me about a dollar's worth of these cars. There was a bag with about 10 or 15 different colored cars inside. My parents felt really bad, but I thought they were great! I never knew the difference, and to this day, I have to keep reassuring my mom that it remains a great birthday memory. I loved those cars!
There were several items that we always considered to be "Throw away toys." Among these would have to be those hokey bow and arrow sets that parents bought us because they were "safe". We didn't want safe; we wanted fun. So, immediately the rubber tips were pulled off. And when my brothers and I were outside, we set to "grinding" the ends of the arrows to a fine point on the sidewalk or asphalt. Eventually we had arrows that would now penetrate an object-preferably each other. Fortunately, the bows weren't strong enough to permit these arrows to be used as deadly projectiles.
More "throw away toys" for us were the infamous "Paddle Ball", toy rifles that fired corks on a string, books or comics that mom and dad bought for "educational reasons", and toy guns with plastic bullets that never shot farther than 2 feet. (Actually, the guns by themselves were okay.)
Troll Dolls. Remember these things? You could pick one up at the local Food Fair Market for 29 cents. They were fun, but the attraction quickly wore off for me. I think I was initially attracted to them due to the fact that they had such a strange look-especially with all the wild hair. And wasn't also funny how superstitious we were back then? Remember how these ugly little things were supposed to be good luck charms? When I was about 8 years old, I bought into all that. I thought a rabbit's foot was lucky. I even found a 4-leaf clover in our yard. That was supposed to bring me luck. It never did; I still had to go to school no matter what.
I remember my very first electric train set.
It was a Lionel. The track basically forme only a circle, but that didn't matter. I can recall the burnt-electric and oil smell of the transformer when it got hot, and it took no time for it to get hot either. The trains were great and made that familiar metallic sliding noise as they rolled along the track. My favorite cars were the box and tanker cars, but my true favorite was the coal car . The engine was old fashioned and had the wheel arms that raised up and down as it pulled the train along.
Road Race Sets
I never grew tired of Road Race Sets and I never will. I never had one, but other kids on the block did. I used to love setting up the tracks in different configurations. My favorite section of "hazard" track was the "squeeze track". It was exhilarating to race an opponent and see who could beat who. Then, on the straight-away, just at that precise moment when both cars met at the squeeze section, it was great to be able to knock your opponent's car off the track.
Road Race Sets did have their share of problems though, such as sluggish controllers and sections of track where cars would hang up. Also, if you got to going to fast, the cars would flip off the curves. Having a nice strong transformer definitely helped.
This was an interesting game-thing for me in 1969. Having always been addicted to mazes and attracted to labyrinths and such, This was a very interesting game for me. I actually just puzzled it, making odd shapes, and trying always to connect the correct colored paths.
"Twister" was another highly interesting innovation. Little did I know it then, but Twister was the game to play with girls. I'm sure the designers had already figured this out, and targeted the game for adolescents and teenagers. Think of it.
You've got the girl next door whom you've always secretly liked; a plastic sheet covered in multi-colored spots; a spinning an arrow telling you where to put your foot, her arm, your hand, her foot etc. Before you know it: entanglement.
It worked the same way for girls and the guys they always secretly liked.