Thursday, August 24, 2006

Top Ten Toys

A recent discussion over children's toys has made me curious (all right, I was already curious to begin with, but now I'm curious about something as opposed to being merely odd ...).

Jon's musings on technology reminded me about our (Nick and I, not Jon and I, just to clarify) recent trips toy shopping for Lucy's first birthday. There were some great toys, but there was also a lot of crap. But in the end, Lucy really liked the toys that flashed lights and made noise when she pressed a button (luckily there's a volume control). She also liked her other more "traditional" toys: a ball, books, and puzzles. This whole experience has made me realize that I haven't paid much attention to toys since I was a kid, and that I really need to remind myself about what makes a good toy.

So my question here, after all that, is what were our favorite toys (as children)? What were the ones you always liked to play with, that your friends liked, and that you played with over and over again growing up? And, if you like, why did you like them so much?

Here's my top 10 (in no particular order):
1. Legos
2. Giant cardboard bricks and playhouse
3. Lincoln Logs
4. Wood blocks
5. Brio trains
6. Transformers
7. Cars and a "city" carpet
8. Playmobile
9. Fake food and cookery items
10. Book and record sets

I also have fond memories of our marbleworks set, my "visible woman" kit, model rockets, my hula hoop (I named it "Hulay") and playdough/clay ...

I really liked building things (I think that's clear) and making up stories about the things I built. I know I played with dolls, but they tended to be integrated into the story I was constructing (they were in the playhouse or on the city carpet--more accessory than focal point). I remember always wanting a Nintendo and a trampoline but we never acquired either. We did play a fair amount of computer games when I was a bit older on our Mac Classic: Dark Castle, Carmen Sandiego, and Brickles were my favorites.

Hope this was mildly interesting--please share!


Nick said...

I must have been pretty picky with toys (ME? being picky?) since I only remember playing with transformers and construx. Construx was this building set like an erector set that I used to build starships and transformers with my brother, and then we would have wars where we would throw bundled up socks at each others ship or robot and see whose would blow up first. I think I would still do that with him today if we still had the construx.

The only other "toy" I played with was our nintendo, and later our commodore 64 (with which I learned how to program in basic, so I suppose that was a pretty valuable toy)

Now that I think about it, I whined for months that I wanted a keyboard, and after I got it for christmas, I stored it away after 2 weeks. Years later when I was about 15 I got it out and taught myself to play the piano on it, so I guess that was a good toy too. Eventually.

So that makes 4 toys for me. Oh yeah, when I was a baby/toddler, I remember LOVING this little baby doll. It was light blue, could suck its thumb, and was wearing a sleep sack. I took it everywhere.

erin said...

I used to build dollhouses and loved it. My mom would help me and we'd make furniture and trees and tool sheds...I remember she once made a little knitting piece out of some string and two pins. It was pretty incredible. Of course we always had legos and those were a big hit. A bat and a tennis ball occupied summers at a time. We had a load of bricks out in our backyard for some reason and we would make houses out of them--not 2-3 brick small houses, these were houses with rooms and roofs (or rooves?) we could go in. Climbing trees were always a big thing for us and we lived near a park so we played there a lot. At grandma's, where the real toys were, my favorites were marbleworks (is the one you're talking about, Jenny, a bunch of pieces you can fit together and then you put marbles through them? We had water wheels for it and all sorts of jumps and cool things), wooden blocks, and an incredible array of dress-ups. I have fond memories of myself and my cousins (boy cousins, too) jumping on the trampoline in our dress-ups on New Years Eve in Los Angeles pretending we got drunk from our root beer.
Generally, my brothers and I just used the earth as our toy and we were lucky to have a mother who didn't care too much if we dug the Panama canal through her flowerbed. We also had a red wagon (I have it still and used it recently to haul materials through a hospital for a volunteer training I was conducting) that went just about everywhere with us. It was a covered wagon in a parade once and was really fun when we lived on a hill. We hitched it to the back of bikes and used it, turned over, as a roof for forts. We read a lot, too, and I remember my brother confiscating all our books to open a library in the back hall...and then would charge over-due rates.

JonnyF said...

1. Legos
2. Transformers
3. Various balls: of the foam, foot-, base-, basket-, plastic, whiffle, and tennis varieties among others
4. Various plastic and wooden blocks
5. Hot Wheels/ Matchbox Cars
6. Tip-overs (kind of like dominoes, only without dots on them)
7. Water balloons and water guns
8. Rubber Bands
9. GI Joes, and other action figures, including Star Wars
10. Tinker Toys

Most of the games we played were completely made up. Nick’s post reminded me of a game we used to play where we built lego ships and set them on the ground in front of us and then threw plastic footballs at each others ships to try to break them. We used to put a bunch of board game boards together to play some game with our Transformers that I remember the rules to. A couple of times we frankensteined together a huge toy car ramp that went from the second story down through the railings of both flights of stairs and down the the first floor with a jump at the end that launched our Hot Wheels into the living room. It was awesome. Rubber bands are on there because it seems like we were always doing something with them, like trying to knock over lego men or shooting each other in an impromtu rubber band battle.
A lot of the things we did, we didn’t need toys for so much. We often just needed a ball, a deck of Rook cards, and/or the features of our house to have fun. One of the classic Fredrickson games was “Red Light, Green Light in the Dark” where we turned off all the lights in the house and played Red Light Green Light in the narrow upstairs hall. It often turned into a wrestling match. Good times.