Do you remember what it was like to be a kid? What toys did you play with in your room before bed? G.I. Joe? Barbie? Hot Wheels? I ask this question because I came to a realization this week: the cheap plastic toys of our childhood, in one way or another, have defined us.
When I look back on my childhood, I can remember vividly playing with a wide assortment of toys. When I come to think about it, I truly believe that the small toys I played with have stuck with me, in a figurative sense of course.
First of all, I used to play with a lot of Lego. I am telling you, I grew up with many brothers so we had Lego by the bucket-full. There would be times when my older brother and I would pour out Lego all over the floor and start to create our masterpieces. For hours upon hours we would stack little lockable bricks and eventually produce vehicles, houses, animals and even whole towns. The little Lego bricks fostered our creativity that eventually gave way to bigger things. From Lego we moved onto music and writing, allowing that stored creativity to spill out in the form of music. Yes, that’s right, I am drawing a correlation between creativity nursed by Lego and fully exploited by music.
Secondly, we can take a look at another of my favourite toys: army men. As an innocent child who has no perception of the horrors of war, little plastic army men represent hours of entertainment. Like the Lego collection, I had insane amounts of army men. Anytime I found myself in a dollar store, I would scrounge up my quarters and buy another package of these tiny heroes.
In addition to a mass of soldiers, I also had tanks, Jeeps, planes and even a giant Hercules plane that had the ability to carry three or four tanks. So where have the army men manifested themselves in my life now? Call of Duty (COD). With the recent release of COD: Black Ops, and my lack of a significant other, Call of Duty seems to eat up the majority of my free time. Attributing my time playing COD to my previous fascination with army men does not feel too far-fetched for me.
Last but not least on this list are Polly Pockets. Do you remember these fun little gadgets? They were usually equipped with houses that could lock together to form a mansion and little figures that you could move around. Essentially, Polly Pockets were a hands-on version of the Sims. I never had the opportunity of owning Polly Pockets of my own, but I often visited my cousin’s house and she had a closet full of them. So how have Polly Pockets influenced me? I have been told that I am in touch with my feminine side, whatever that means exactly, and I can probably attribute it to Polly Pockets.
Take a quick glance back into history and look at the plastic, cheap, lead-based painted toys that you carried around, sucked on and played with. Just try to think of the ways that they influenced you. I am sure you will find a few.