Friday, May 14, 2010


Mom always used to say that she wished she would have held on to the toys of her youth. When she was a wee little Italian girl growing up on Beverly Road in Brooklyn, she fondly remembers her most favorite playthings: a wooden circus train with accompany circus animals, like the seal on wheels, balancing a ball; hundreds of hand-sewn Barbie doll clothes that my grandma fashioned herself.*

*(On the other hand, she also told us about the zebra ash tray that Uncle Artie had made, casting long scary shadows on the walls at night, which just about scared the shit out of her. Her brother, Jerry (my godfather) used to chase Aunt Diane around with the real stuffed alligator that an aunt had brought from Florida. This in turn became a torture device for n older Diane to use on my much littler mother. It served a purpose for all ages, I suppose.)

After hearing about all the wonderful toys my mother could remember growing up, I wished that she had managed to save them over the years to one day pass them onto me. When I found out she had given the Barbie clothes and the train set away, I was heartbroken. I'm sure in some ways, she was too.

I resolved to never let the same thing happen to my toys. Yes, I enjoy holding onto the past for dear life, but I'm not talking about storing some Barbies and Polly Pockets in my current apartment and taking them out for a summer fun pool party with my boyfriend anytime soon. And yes, I will forgo my childhood dream of creating an ultimate Star Wars figurine stop-motion film now that I'm on the cusp of being an adult (note how I have not admitted it fully yet).

Instead, I am suggesting that I keep my treasured toys (at least, those that I know are still around) safely hidden away in my parent's New Jersey attic, unknown to garage sales and other bratty children, until I can pass them on to my someone who I feel is worthy enough to experience their toy-glory.

So, without further ado, I hereby present my toy will, which lists the toys of which must be kept safe and intact for however long I am here (and oh, let's say, 20 years after), at which point become the sole property of my predecessor, canine or otherwise. A failure to uphold my wishes will result in a.) bludgeoning with a nearby object of choice, b.) a tantrum, which includes excessive bawling and feet stomping, or c.) eternal haunting by my restless apparition.

Also part of this will is a list of those toys which shall be forever held in memoriam, as they have sadly been lost to the ravages of time and mom's spring cleanings.


Disney Magic Kingdom Playset, (Loss: Unknown)
I was quite young when I got this, so I'm not sure how it came about. All I know is that we kept it in a wooden box in the closet. It had a runaway train and monorail, and a Dumbo-esque ride.

Miniature Dollhouses, (Loss: Unauthorized Chucking)
Not to be confused with the Polly Pockets of the same genre, this was a three house miniature set of pastel suburbia that was bought by my Aunt Diane as a Christmas/Birthday present. I don't think it had a brand name, since it was bought at a flea market or auction, but I fell in love with it. Each piece of furniture was delicate and detailed, and the houses came with a neighborhood mat with shrubbery and sparkling pools. There was a purple grand piano that really played music with the help of a watch battery.

One day I found out that mom had gotten rid of it because she thought I never played with it anymore. Now I go to therapy.


Colorforms, (Loss: Most Likely Unauthorized Chucking)
Some of you might remember these sticker-like, rubbery things from the early 90s. I had Mickey Mouse themed colorforms and (the best) a giant Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle underground scene that was as big as me. I don't know what ever happened to them, but if I found them on Ebay I would definitely reclaim them.

Inspector Gadget LIFE Cereal Box Back, (Loss: Recycling)
My brother and I always fought over who got the cereal box to read during breakfast, but none were more worth the battle more than the LIFE Cereal back which featured a map of Inspector Gadget's Metro city (very ala Where's Waldo.) With much pleading, we convinced our parents to hold onto this for months at a time; but sadly, it's only a matter of time before mom gets sick of keeping an empty cereal box around for "no reason."

Apparently, there are many who think that it IS worth it, nearly 20 years later!
(If you buy this before me, I will kill you.)

Micro Machines, (Loss: Unknown)
I'll admit it - even though I was a girl who loved Barbie's and play make-up, I loved playing with tiny cars. (This could also have been due to my fetish with miniatures but......for all intensive purposes, let's just say.....I enjoyed playing with cars.) My brother had the Micro Machines Super Van City (which is epic, even in its name), and was perfect for making up car chase disasters.

There was also a drive-in restaurant made especially for Micro Machines, which was my personal fave, but that disappeared suspiciously long before the van city...

Shrinky Dinks, (Loss: ....Probably Just Not Worth Saving)
These have been around for awhile, so I won't go into too much detail. But I had TMNT shrinky dinks, and I wish I still did. Mainly because I can color inside the lines now.

Burger King Playdoh Set, (Loss: Hardened)
Due to my obsession with play food, the marriage of Playdoh and Burger King (while on the surface, sounds incredibly gross) was AMAZING to me. Even long after the Playdoh turned into solid rock, I was using the condiment place mat to serve all my food-crazed needs.

Play Food, (Loss: Scattered about the house in disarray)
The rubber bacon. The plastic scrambled eggs. The Eggo waffle box with the fake pouring syrup. I freaking loved play food. I would still play with it now.

Precious Places, (Loss: Who knows; I may still have it.)
I had almost completely forgotten about this (again) small playset. You controlled moving the little Victorian, rosy-cheeked people by using a magnetic key. The main building was a lovely little Gazebo. Half the time I just used the little people in other locations to suit my own imagination.


Alright, might as well get this out of the way. I love Barbies as much as the next girl, and I had a pretty good assortment. The Heart Family, Skipper, Courtney, the older one my dog chewed, a bunch of mermaid outfits from various places. Then there were the Disney barbies who's heads were at least twice as big as those of regular Barbies (which made kissing Ken rather awkward.)

There was also my blonde Megan doll from My Little Pony. She had a different look than the Barbies; narrower eyes, a bit of a dirty face, and was smaller than Skipper, but I liked it that way. Made her unique. She became the charismatic adventurer/inventor, who would think up crazy ways of getting to the top of my bed, or into a cave.

And I had a LOT of accessories: red Mustang convertible, inflatable pool, kitchen, cafeteria, grocery store, the Barbie Fold 'n' Fun House (from a garage sale). But it doesn't matter how many I have, and that they were all massed produced. I CANNOT get rid of them. I refuse to grow old with regret.

The Littlest Pet Shop
One of the best presents I ever got was the Littlest Pet Shop playset, which included the shop and a shitload of small animals. I played with it ALL THE TIME, but still managed to keep everything intact and together, including the magnetic newspapers for the dogs and the gerbil water bottles. Even the cash register items! Then my sister inherited it, and now who knows where it all is.

Polly Pockets
I can't even count how many of these I have; I am praying that they are still somewhere in my attic waiting for me to re-discover. I didn't even need to play with the little Pollys; I just marveled at the intricacies of the minute worlds. I also had the mansion which had a sun-room and the water park, which you could fill with real water (much to the annoyance of my mother) and make jacuzzi bubbles.

I will be that old woman who has a bunch of Polly Pockets on display in her living room, rather than those crappy Christmas villages.

Star Wars Figurines
I admit I was a Star Wars nerd. After the trilogy was re-released, our parents got us nothing but Star Wars paraphernalia for two Christmases in a row (especially Princess Leia stuff for me, since she was like, oh my god, my idol). We'd race to the stores and search through hundreds of figures to find the rare ones. I even spent a whopping $14 each for the special Princess Leia collection figurines with cloth wardrobe, and then opened them in spite of other snooty collectors. My brother, Nicky and I would stage wars between the Rebellion and the Empire on our coffee table.

>sigh< Those were the days....

Assorted Little Peoples
Over the years, my whole family has amassed a collection of little people, or miscellaneous figurines from Christmases, birthdays, fast food meals and garage sales. Some of them might be worth a pretty penny, but I only want to keep them for the memories of many an imaginative days....

We have Disney characters, Looney Tunes characters, McDonald's Barbies from the Happy Meals, the transforming robot/McDonald's food, Smurfs....the list goes on.

Sadly, many of my Smurfs were lost in a supermarket when I was young. I left for a moment and then they were gone. I cried for them.

I'd have to say my favorite is the Anne Marie figure from All Dogs Go to Heaven that my cousin Janean let me keep. I'll definitely be keeping that one for awhile :)

Where do I even start? Legos were the staple of our familial happiness. We made a dream house out of Legos every year (on our Lego table, no less); I would always use the clean black slate Lego for the dining table, top it with a square black vase of flowers. My room would have a telescope and a lava lamp.

My brother was obsessed with legos, and also refuses to sell them or lend them out to cousins. Attaboy.

April O'Neil Figurine
As a TMNT fan, April O'Neil was a must have. My dad, who was manager at KB Toys for a long time, went everywhere trying to buy one for me. She came with a briefcase, a camcorder, gun and ninja store (all essentials for the working woman.) Eventually he did, and she is still lying somewhere with the rest of the toys I once loved. Hopefully I can find them all again soon.

One Christmas, all of us kids decided to get our mom two pieces of her long-lost wooden circus train off an Ebay auction.

It certainly was a surprise to her, nearly 30 years later. I'm hoping that by keeping what appears to be junk, around a little while longer, I'll have the very same moments a hundred times over.

What toys would you keep around?

4 thoughts:

RAY J said...

I have that SAME Anne Marie figurine... somewhere... unless it got sold in a garage sale ><

I also had the Polly Pockets and the Littlest Pet Shop back before they ruined those by making them bigger! (I don't think current Polly Pockets could fit in anyone's pocket!)

And the Burger King Play-Doh set too!

And I think I know what Disney playset you're talking about as I think I had one similar that I completely forgot about until reading this! Mine was kind of like the Winnie the Pooh one on this page, but it was Disney characters and there was a Dumbo ride one too

RAY J said...

lol I wasn't going to be able to sleep until I found a photo of my Disney playset, lol... guess it was more of a train set though than a playset...

Tara Rose Stromberg said...

Hahaa I know how you feel, once I started writing down my fave toys, I couldn't stop. It was a nice trip back in time, but now I'm anxious to get home and covet everything that's still left! ^.^

Tiffany said...

I am SO JEALOUS that you still have your Anne Marie figurine. I have no idea where mine went to, but it was my absolute favorite figurine when I was a little girl.

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