I am the oldest of four boys. I also have four boys of my own (well, they’re not just mine, but you know what I mean), so I think it’s fair to say that I know a little bit about toys. I don’t know much about girls toys however, the only experience I have with Barbies is biting the toes off of my neighbour’s dolls.
In no particular order, here are the toys that defined my childhood playing experiences:
My brothers and I had Legos from a very young age. It wasn’t until we were at a friends and I saw the fire station set that I knew these were the kind of things I could really get into. Suddenly I was asking for the stuff for Christmas, birthdays and any other reason I could get presents. My favourite sets remain the castle, Robin Hood’s tree fort and pirate’s hide away cove. My sons have really picked up on Lego, and have more than I ever did. I still like putting it together.
The first set I ever recieved was the safari set. It came with a jeep, tent, cages, rhino, lions and hippopotamus. I loved it, and I was hooked. Playmobil still sells, but the lack of movable parts puts it behind other comparable toys. Imagination required.
I was never the kind of kid who collected the specific cars or got all of the tracks, but I enjoyed a good race down the neighbour’s drive way. I inherited a lot of older cars from a bigger kid on the crescent. I have no idea what happened to them. Hot Wheels are one of those toys that have really evolved over the years. The electronic parts, crash-up games and fancy sets are getting almost over-the-top (and expensive).
OK, so this may not be a typical toy, but when I bought my first one in 1988 at Canadian Tire for nearly $200. It was like all of my paper money. I only had a few games, but Super Spike V-Ball is still a great game!
I owned these guys when they were still the metal versions. Optimus Prime was under the tree for me and it is still the best Christmas present I’ve ever gotten. I had lots of the mini-bots, some triple changers and all of the dino-bots. My brother had the Constructobots and arielbots, and we had some epic battles. The games usually ended with one of us crying because we got our fingers pinched when we were mashing our robots together. Go-bots, the lame knock off of Transformers were also in our toy box. I think we had a small mini-sub and a forklift. In a heartbreaking but common story, I no longer have my Transformers to pass on to my kids because they were sold in a garage sale. Boo-hoo.
What boy born in the late ’70’s or early ’80’s didn’t have a bucket full of these guys. Again, my brother and I had a tonne of these things. One of my favourite vehicles was the Water Moccassin, a small green speedboat with Copperhead in the driver seat. I also loved the Shark, a submersible boat and my ski-doo. My brother had the Tomahawk, a twin-rotored chopper that was desert camoflagued. Best action figures included Snake Eyes, Tunnel Rat, Dusty and Ship Wreck.
I never had these as a kid, but my own kids own them, and I still actually play with them. With names like Wendy Waters, Roger Houston and Billy Blazes, these toys are actual heroes: astronauts, firefighters, police officers, etc. and they’re fun.