Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - December 15, 2017

Just big kids

I notice his smile every time I pass by. For his age, his red hair and brown eyes are remarkably bright. Occasionally, he will talk with me if I coax him a little.

Can we go out?
Let’s play cowboy.
Tell me a story.
Where are we going?

Long ago, he lost his “crown” hat and his voice is often a bit garbled. But he still wears his red-striped shirt and black shorts. Matty Mattel and I frequently connect briefly at the end of the day. This is because this favorite childhood companion and other dolls occupy a place of honor next to books and family photos on the bookshelves by our bedroom door.

Christmas, more than any other time of year, makes me think of the toys I received as a youngster, as well as the ones husband Art and I gave our daughters. For a number of years now, those thoughts prompt me to notice the new selections inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame. This year, they were the board game Clue, the paper airplane, and the Wiffle Ball.

An Associated Press article said the inductees are chosen “on the advice of historians and educators following a process that begins with nominations from the public. To make the cut, toys must have inspired creative play across generations.”

Other toys selected in the past 20 years since the hall of fame was established include: Barbie, Play-Doh, Tinkertoys, Scrabble, Monopoly and Crayola Crayons.

Check, check, check, check, check and check. I have - or had at one time or another - all of the above.

In November 2012, I wrote A blanket statement about three other inductees - the blanket, box and stick. Those three simple items were favorites of daughters Mariya and Katie. And brother Dave, sister Gaila and I found all sorts of things to do with sticks when we were growing up on the farm. They became swords, music batons or tools to make roads in the dirt for our toy trucks.

Dave still has the Lionel train set he received when he was 6 or 7. Art’s is packed away below the stairs to the basement. The train is another member of the hall of fame. Art’s favorite toy was the Erector Set. It’s also on the list.

Gaila and I spent hours playing with our Barbie dolls and all their accessories and clothes as did our girls Larisa and Katie.

One of the best investments I ever made was buying an old Tinkertoys set for $2 at a flea market. Katie and Mariya made vehicles, towers, windmills and other objects with the wooden parts.

They also liked LEGOs - also on the list. Mariya still adds a set or two to her Christmas list each year. She’s also a “Star Wars” fan. Action figures from that movie franchise were added to the hall of fame in 2012.

So will toys from today make the famous list?

According to the “hottesttoysforchristmas.com” website (yes, there actually is one!), Cozmo the Robot, the Dancing Groot from Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy, the Nerf Super Soaker Zombie Strike Revenge Zombinator, the Fidget Spinner and Marvel action figures, such as Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk and Spiderman, will be popular this year. Another hot item, according to the site, will be Hatchimals. The website’s description of them is:

Hatchimals - CollEGGtibles 4-Pack + Bonus (Styles & Colors May Vary) by Spin Master. Imagine holding an egg in your hands and watching it hatch into a ‘Hatchimal CollEGGtible’ as you rub the heart and wait for it to turn pink. Kids are going gaga for these toys, and there are more than 70 Hatchimals to collect in season one. Each Hatchimal has glittery wings and belongs to a family, which you can tell by the color of the speckles on the egg. It’s always a joy watching the eyes of the children light up as each CollEGGtible hatches and they find out what’s inside. It’s always a surprise as well, so that sense of wonder and excitement is definitely present.

Maybe, but Beanie Babies, Pet Rocks and Cabbage Patch dolls were also considered “hot” at one time, but now, well, not so much.

Matty hasn’t joined the elite in the hall of fame. Still, he’s a classic to me. His sister - Sister Belle - is far, far away - on Gaila’s bookshelf in Bolivia. Gaila never called her Belle, preferring “Linda” instead.

Matty, Linda, our Barbies, Dave’s Lionel train, Art’s Erector Set, the girls’ LEGOs and Tinkertoys, and our old Life, Monopoly, Clue and Candy Land board games were once a big part of our childhoods. And thinking about them now still elicits smiles and good memories. So while in most regards we grow up, we also remain just big kids.

Left-to-right: Matty and Gloria, Linda and Gaila, Katie and Tinkertoys and Mariya and a Star Wars game.

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Other columns from 2017 may be found at: 2017 Index.
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