A few days ago I returned from a week-long visit to my parent’s house in South Texas. When I wasn’t busy trying to think of creative ways to prevent my spontaneous combustion from excessive heat exposure, I found some time to clean out the toy-filled closet in my old bedroom. And by “found some time” I mean I was tired of my mother’s dirty looks.
At some point while sorting through my memories from ages 2-12, I caught myself thinking something that horrified me: “They just don’t make them this way anymore.” Suddenly, a montage of every elderly person on TV I’d ever seen saying the exact same line flashed in my brain, and I felt awful. After about two seconds of feeling like the oldest person on the planet, I snapped the heck out of it because my point was totally valid.
The majority of my childhood has long since been given away to younger cousins and sold at garage sales, but every now and then while sorting through my piles of junk, I would come across a spare piece of a toy that instantly jarred my memory. The one that caused me to say the ill-fated line was an early ’80s-style Fisher Price “Little People” toy that I had inherited from one of my older sisters. It was the man with the yellow cowboy hat to be exact. (Yes, the Texas cliché sickens me, too.)
When I put my fingers on his little appendage-less body, I instantly remembered every piece I used to have — even the scary clown that had Xs for eyes and the black dog that was larger than the children. I remembered the names I’d given them, their adventures in the kitchen sink swimming hole, the stunts they did off the roof the Fisher Price car garage, and I remembered scratching off their eyes when one of them would get in a terrible accident. (I was a twisted child.)
I kind of miss the lack of detail (and lack of arms) of the old-school Little People. They’ve gone through redesign a few times since the ones I had were on the shelves. Now they’re fatter (because kids like sticking small crap in their mouths, apparently), have full heads of hair, clothes, and realistic-looking faces. I understand why they’re chunkier now, but why all the frill? I used to enjoy filling in the blanks myself and forming their little personalities.
If one day I have a child of my own, I think I’d want them to have the same creative freedom that I had. While sitting there on the worn carpet of my closet, part of me wished I had the rest of the gang on hand. Add a bowl of Rice Krispies with marshmallows and a Clear Pepsi to the mix and we would’ve had a party. Sure, I could hop on eBay, but I don’t want theirs. I want mine. Sigh.
What about you, PopWatchers? Do you ever find yourself longing for a certain toy from your past? Want one more afternoon with that conveyor belt and cash register, perhaps? Is there one more life to save with your medical kit? Just please don’t say you miss Teddy Ruxpin. He used to scare the holy peanuts out of me.
On Twitter @EWSandraG