Figuring out what I wanna be when I grow up.
Oop..I AM grown up...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Okay, so it's no secret that I hate toys.  I hate trying to find homes for them, that there are always a ton of little bits and pieces under the couches. I hate that my kids destroy or lose most of the parts within a week (ha ha; week.  I should say "DAY"), and I hate that some of the pieces end up upstairs, downstairs and worst of all:  in the backyard.  It drives me bananas when The Man "tidies" up the toys, because invariably this means doing a massive sweep of EVERYTHING into the toy bin.  I like to keep toy collections together, otherwise they're useless when play time arrives.  What--you think I'm being anal?  I should just be happy that they're tidied up by someone else?  Okay, but how about if Mr. Potatohead is on top of the pile, and all of his bodily acoutrements are at the bottom of the toy box?  How can a 3 year old ever hope to retrieve the parts.  Or, what if the fairy castle is missing all of the fairies?  Yeah, you get the picture. 

I know this will put me in a whole other category of evil, but I particularly hate STUFFED ANIMALS.  Oh mon dieu how I loathe them; the most irresistable yet useless toys of them all.  And do you think I can throw away anything that has a face on it?  I have a garbage bag FULL of stuffies down the basement.  Jack has a bin in his room full of them too.  Ella has a few giant ones in her room.  When Jack was born, everybody had to get the new baby an irresistable little stuffed guy.  ARGH!  Take my advice:  buy a pack of those uber useful wet wipe thingies for that new baby instead.  Sorry planet Earth, but one can never have enough of them. 

What I dream of having is a TOY ROOM.  I don't want toys in my living room.  Period.  I know that some of y'all, who are far more kind-hearted than myself, will say; "oh karen, you'll miss the toys when the kids get older," or, "there won't be toys in your living room forever..." and blah, blah, blah, yackity yackity yak. Well my friends,

I'm REALLY REALLY looking forward to that day.  Besides, most toys SUCK.  Actually, I'd go so far as to say they SUCK HARD.  Does everything have to play an idiotic song nowadays?   Does EVERYTHING require batteries?  Does everything have to purport itself as an educational toy, which then renders it completely UN-FUN???  Can't the cute little tea pot simply make cool pouring sounds and just be done with it?  Does it have to giggle and sing a pen-in-the-eye song?  Do they all have to be SO LOUD that I have to wrap DUCT TAPE over their speakers just so my little people don't go deaf?  Did they really, really have to ruin the Fisher Price little people, instead of just leaving them as the hand-friendly, eye appealing little pegs they were when I was a kid? 

MOST OF THESE TOYS SUCK!  They're all souped up with COLOUR and LIGHTS and SOUND, but seriously, the kid is bored in less than five minutes.  Also, anything that shoots balls out of it?  Well, the balls disappear before anything else, because all a toddler wants is a small, round object to have in each hand. 

Maybe this will make me sound like something of a curmudgeon, but I feel like toys were more fun when I was a kid.  Or, maybe I'm just nostalgic for my youth.  Who knows.  What started my mental (mostly burnt out) wheels turning, was the other day The Man took the kids to a large toy retailer, so they could pick out something for themselves.  Jack chose a toy drum, with drumsticks attached, that's probably intended for a toddler.  However, I could write the company a thank-you note with a kiss mark on it, because all it is is a drum.  It DOES NOT PLAY MUSIC, and it DOES NOT make phony drum sounds.  I could weep a little bit. 

My daughter chose BARBIE.  Specifically, she chose "Barbie Loves Glitter."  RIGHT FREAKING ON.  I was a monstrous Barbie enthusiast as a kid, which returned in the form of a massive Barbie addiction in my 20's.  When I was a teenager, and technically too old to be playing with Barbie any longer, I would be secretly thrilled when my sister would get one for her birthday or Christmas.  I would bide my time patiently, longingly, until she went to bed and then that doll would be mine!  Well, mine until I put her back where my sister had left her--I'm not totally evil, people. 

So, when Ella returned home with this doll; the doll we had just seen on TV, my eyes lit up with delight.  In the commercial, Barbie is shown in her hair dresser's chair, while the little girl "straightens" her hair with the little straightener.  Fill the straightener with hot water, and the purple strands in Barbie's hair turn pink (wicked).  Blow the cool air hair dryer on them, and they turn back to purple.  But the topper was when they took the glitter gun and fired a blast of glitter all over Barbie's hair (super wicked).  I was split right down the middle on this one:  50% of karen thought; yeah, as if I'd let my kid use the glitter gun in the house--what, and have glitter everywhere?  I don't think so!  The other 50% was screaming THAT'S AWESOME!!!!  Yeah, within less than a minute I had Barbie in her little pink chair and was busy changing the colour of her streaks.  I haven't been able to use the glitter gun yet though because..oh, big takes batteries.  As for Ella, she brought the doll home, swiped her shoes, and put it on an old Barbie of mine, and Miss Glitter Lover has been completely abandoned. 

Well, of course this made me think about the toys of my youth, and how exciting some of them were.  Let's take a look down memory lane together, shall we?  See if you remember some of these too.

Tippy Tumbles

I thought this toy was great when I got her.  I don't think she did much more than what you see here:

Does anybody else find that slightly creepy?

Stretch ArmstrongI wanted a Stretch Armstrong so badly when I was a kid, but alas, never got one.  If you grew up in the 70's and 80's, chances are you were left blissfully unsupervised in the toy section while your Mom shopped.  I can still picture the carnage of many un-boxed Stretch's, broken, with weird red jelly stuff oozing out of their arms. 

Fashion Plates

I thought this toy was great. You could switch all the plates around to create your very own fashion "model." Change her head, her blouse, and give her pants or a skirt, then put your paper on to etch out a likeness. Turn the plates over, and there were different clothing "textures" to colour over with your coloured pencils, and voila--plaid pants.

Slime was awesome. Just plain awesome. It was cold, and green, goopy, and weird, and next to Silly Putty, it was one of the most exciting "toys." My mom would only let us play with it at the kitchen table.


You had to remember, and repeat progressively more complicated combinations of colours/sounds.  Was it really fun, or ridiculously frustrating...who can say?

Fresh N' Fancy

Oh how I loved this.  I lurved this make-your-own-makeup kit.  I still remember mixing and crafting my makeup, then loading my face up clownstyle before I went outside to slide down the snow hill on our street with my brother. 

Its awesomeness speaks for itself.  I never got one.  Sniff!  I just bought one for my kids in the last couple of years.  They were not interested all.  AT ALL, people! Can you imagine???

I was truly excited when I received this little plastic box, wherein a lucky girl (or boy, let's be inclusive) could bake yummy treats thanks to a nice, hot light bulb.  I recall having a packet to make "German chocolate cake."  I think I had a packet of sugar cookie mix, and I also had a packet of gingerbread men mix.  I saved the gingerbread packet for last, and finally when the time came, meticulously mixed, rolled out, and cut my tiny little gingerbread men.  Then I forgot them in the oven, and they burned :(  Tragedy!  Still, it forces me to ponder the safety of this toy...oh, and wasn't there a DO NOT TOUCH DANGER warning on the top of the box, because the lightbulb made it freaking hot?  Enh, whatevs. 

Okay, I didn't actually receive this toy myself--it was my brother's.  I thought it was awesome just the same.  Hugo came with all kinds of gross face alterating accessories, a wig, glasses, that were supposed to give him all kinds of different appearances.  One problem:  nothing stayed on his face.  The cheapo glue stick that came with it was uesless, and all the stuff soon slid off leaving grease, lint and hair behind on the very ugly "doll."  The glasses were cheap, springy plastic, and Hugo didn't have the best ears, so those didn't stay on either.  Please note how incredibly ugly this toy is. 

(image reference:
Okay, I could cut and paste pictures all day (but it's super tedious, and I want an apple). There are lots of other fun toys I remember from my youth, like "Operation," which is still around, but not as scary any longer. The buzz sound has been way toned down. We all remember the Cabbage Patch Kids craze, but does anyone else remember Rub-a-dub Dolly?

I also liked a lot of my brother's toys, like Micronauts, and The Big Jim Kung Fu studio. Amusingly enough, when my brother got too old and tired of Big Jim, he turned the Kung Fu studio into an apartment for my Barbies. He went so far as to put wall paper over the wall, and a square of cheap laminate tile, leftover from the kitchen, on the floor.

The Ball and Sock CrazeDid this happen at your school: in elementary school, there was this passing mania for playing with a ball in a sock. EVERYBODY had it. They all got one of those red white and blue stripey balls, or a tennis ball, dropped it in a sock, and headed off to school with it. Before the bell rang and at recess time, EVERYBODY was outside, against the school wall bouncing their stupid ball and sock from side to side, or bouncing it off the ashphalt, or tossing it around. My mother thought the ball and sock was stupid. However, she got me a ball, and one of my Dad's old socks. I was THRILLED. On the way to school, I was walking with a couple of friends. One of them told me to test out how high it would bounce. So, I gave it all I got, and that ball and sock sailed right up onto the roof of the grocery store we were walking past. Imagine the horror. We went inside to ask one of the apathetic store workers if someone could go on the roof. I think you know how this turns out. I stood there at recess wanting to cry, as seemingly everyone enjoyed their ball and sock.

Toys. I'd better go tidy some up now.

What are some of your fond toy memories?


  1. I had forgotten about Hugo!!! I remember the fake wounds and scars now though. Also, my stretch armstrong lasted an hour. AN HOUR. As a boy, naturally I wanted to test how long he could stretch. So I hooked one arm at the top of the stair railing and stretched him down the stairs and around the corner, before his arm snapped off and that strange ooze came out. Yup, gotta love the 70's. I expect some form of cancer to develop in me from that ooze. Spills in Hungary are tame in comparison to the 70's. Remember 'Love Canal'?

    Anyhoo, thanks for sharing the original toy stories! It really does get better with your kids keeping track of their own stuff, including all the little components. It really does.

    One more thing: was it me who dared you to test your ball-n-sock bouncing ability? Sounds like me. If so, sorry to contribute to your childhood traumatic memories. We all have too many of those without our friends adding to the pile...

  2. oh!I feel old! I remember and had most of those toys[yes i was a spoiled only child]. i still get a special thrill when i play barbies with my friends daughter, and can't wait to get kieran one,[is 18mos. really too young?] legos are also a huge hit in our house, its the one toy i will gladly play with gabe, i will not pretend to be ninja mom or optimus prime, but lego, no problem! my fave toy was lego, anything barbie, and fresh sharp crayons and a new colouring book,boring maybe, but they still can make me smile!

  3. Matt, I read your comment last night and I laughed. I was still cracking up this morning, because I can picture you and your Stretch Armstrong. That was such a funny anecdote. Well, I got a slinky at my kindergarten birthday party, and it didn't even last beyond the party. Lousy shag carpet. Hey, I guess I should have added 'slinky' to the list eh?

  4. Paula, at 18 months, the little people are disappointingly DISINTERESTED in Barbie. I had to bide my time, and it's only just been this year that Ella's been choosing Barbie. Sniff!
    I never really got into Lego because I suck at building things, and can only ever envision a 'tower' it seems. Sigh. My brother built all kinds of stuff though, and even made a Lego aerocar one time.
    Good imagery on the crayons as well--it immediately conjured up that good smell Playdoh smells good too.

  5. I hate toys too! Never in the living room either!! We had a room just for them still do.
    You and Peter had the best toys. Me and Diane talked about how we LOVED playing with all Peter's little people stuff. He had so much of it!
    I remember your barbie stuff too. I played with your doll house and your barbie had a bath that you filled with water . Loved it!

    I wanted a stretch armstrong so badly but never got it . I had the easy bake oven though!

    Oh the memories!!

  6. Oh Little People...between Beam and I we had alot of Little People Stuff...BUTTT...BARBIES! Thats where it was at! Oh how I love them! I cant wait until Cohen is old enough to play with them. I still have all of my barbie stuff. All stored nicely in my parents basement just waitin to played with. Beam and I would spend hours...and hours playing barbies!! Our favorite was to use your moms rock garden as teh barbies house! (I am sure your mom just loved when we did that:(
    Or the wood table on your deck!! If we (or I) was really lucky we would get to play with your awesome Barbie house!!
    They dont make toys they way they used to!
    Oh! and the Lego...apparently, I wasnt "good" at playing lego (ask beam about that) but i always admired the fun stuff Peter would make...that we were never allowed to touch! LOL
    Stephanie M.

  7. Pam, yes, that bathtub had a little pump on it that was supposed to make bubbles and this window/garden background around it. Ha, I'd forgotten about that. Peter had a LOT of micronauts. I used to think those were so fun.

  8. So, Steph, and Pam, are all of you remembering my SINDY HOUSE? Do you remember Sindy? She tried to be better than Barbie. She could do the splits BOTH WAYS, which was wicked. The Sindy house had a spiral staircase from the top floor to her rooftop patio, and should have had a working elevator going up and down the side of the house, but that was never hooked up properly.
    Steph, I loved playing with Barbies too. Some of those games by the rock garden could be fun for DAYS.
    I'll ask Aim about your lack of lego skill. I sucked at lego.

  9. If you want the ultimate in toy coolness and fun you guys have to go to STRONGS MUSEUM OF PLAY in rochester n.y. its cheap to get in ,about 40 for 4 people a short drive from the falls and it is HUGE . they have a store that is about the size of an avondale where kids can "buy" and checkout their foods, super fun ,and lots of craft stuff, a sesame street , merry go round, trains, huge mr. potato head, and way to much , seriosly you have to go and it will give great blog fodder!

  10. I was at that party! You were so bummed. I think your mom wrapped up that party early... I now get why being a parent. We were more nuts at 5 than 15!

  11. Paula, that sounds fantastic--thanks. I'll have to mention it to Jon, who LOVES LOVES LOVES toys. And then we'll get our freaking passports and then we'll go.

  12. Matt, of course you were at that party. You were the craziest kid there--racing around and around the house like a little maniac until you slipped and bumped your head on my brother's bed post...and then you were very, very caaaaaalm. So funny! That party was total mania as I recall.

  13. I remember the Sindy house clear as day!! Yes i remember the spiral staircase too. That is the last time i got to play at your house.
    I remember getting water all over your room with that dam pump thing lol!
    I love barbie!!!

  14. Really Pam? I don't remember that at all! The Sindy house was awesome though. I wonder whatever happened to my Sindy doll...

  15. ah, a head injury! That explains so much. No wonder for years you introduced me as your special needs friend...

  16. Paula is begging for another entry - it's been two whole days! She's so frustrated that she's now turned herself into a tropical storm and is attacking the Florida Keys! You need to act fast! (see? ...head injury.)

  17. "Special Matt." Now THAT was funny.

    Don't worry, more vitriole is on its way...

  18. Funny... I remember Matt from one of the first Kindergarten days. There was that wooden play structure in the classroom and one of the platforms was near the floor (I guess it was moveable) and he was jumping up and down on it like crazy. Mrs Justesen was trying to get him to calm down and telling him that it wasn't for jumping.

    Y'know the red eye in the old photos... Young Matt of my memories always has crazed red eyes. ;)

  19. I was a doll fanatic.

    I had and still have these dolls although I had to re-aquire them some years back.

    Talking baby tenderlove.
    Baby Tenderlove.
    Baby Small Talk.
    Baby Thumbelina (the one the wiggles)

    The Sunshine Family. (Stevie, Stephanie and Sweetie)

    Chrissy Doll ( Hair pulls out of top of head)
    Cinnamon Doll sister to Chrissy.
    Pink Baby Beans
    Lazy Dazy

    I had a Fairtale doll, I think she was Cinderella, and there were a host of others I think by Mattel or Ideal...not sure.
    They looked like they had the same face as the Baby small walk and Baby small talk.

    These were on my list but never got: WHAAAAAAAA.

    Baby Alive
    Baby That a Way
    Rub a Dub Dolly
    Bizzie Lizzie
    Holly Hobbie kitchen set. (metal, child size)

    Baby Alive the original cute version could eat fake food!
    Baby thataway...ah she crawled all over the place.

    Rub a Dub dolly...need I say more?
    Bizzie Lizze was the ultimate, she could sweep, iron, and wipe.

    There was another doll I remember who could cook and make cakes. She had a little hand mixer and had a navy and red dress. oohhhh I wanted her too.

    The Little People were the BEST.
    I had a tea set that when you poured coffee out of the pot the liquid disapeared. The neighbor kid stole my tea set, and when I knocked on the door asking for it back the dad told me she didnt have it and yet I looked through the window and she was playing with it. (bitter)
    I had a red and white typewriter that really had an ink cartridge.

    I had a yellow and black Easy Bake Oven the my friends and I melted crayons in to make candles.

    I had the Barbie Airplane. It was such a disapointment. Especially when you wanted the TownHouse.

    And I had inflatable Barbie furniture....weird.

    My kids played with Playmobile. They spent hours and days and days and days with that stuff. The best investment I ever made. Lots of tiny pieces but, we had bins and they were older than your kids so they did not lose them as much.

    WE still have all of our playmobile. and my anal daughter number 2 organizes them all in sets. she still has her Madeline Doll sets some not even out of the boxes....

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  21. Lisa, that's freaking hilarious. My very first memory of Matt, is the first day of school, and while most of us waited with horror for the first day of kindergarten, Matt was running around the playground, and told me he was a VAMPIRE

  22. OH my god! The SUNSHINE FAMILY! I forgot about the Sunshine Family!! I also forgot about that doll whose hair pulls out the top of her head! Melissa, that's awesome that you still have them. You should post pics sometime. Fantastic memories you provided about toys--so much fun. I have to google some of the ones you mentioned, because I can remember the name, but not quite picture them :)

  23. Does anyone remember a doll that came out in the 80's who rode a bicycle or a tricycle? Her feet strapped onto pedals, and her legs had enough bending ability to make it look like she was really riding the bike? Anyone? Anyone?

  24. There was a doll like that in the 70's...because I wanted her too.

    I think I have every doll page of the Sears Catalogue memorized...seriously.

  25. The Sears Christmas catalogue had THE best toy section. Very exciting when that catalogue came out.

  26. I hereby declare that many of these supposed 'memories' have yet to be proven in a court of law. :)

  27. Have really enjoyed your posts. I was cleaning out a box at my mom's house last summer and was reunited with my Munchee-chee. Great toy. And I agree with you about the toys. I think Polly Pockets were invented by the devil!

  28. Thanks Nancy--glad you've been enjoying! Funny, but when you mention Polly Pocket, all I can think about is a girlfriend of mine who said that her cat once snarfed up a small pile of Polly Pocket shoes and ate them.

    I *HATE* toys with tons of teeny tiny accessories. Where do 70% of them end up? UNDER MY COUCH.


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