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Toys of the Past

I’m experiencing a raging case of nostalgia these days. If it’s not news about The Babysitter’s Club series coming out in e-book form, it’s an upcoming sequel to Boy Meets World. Maybe it’s the holidays and thinking about beloved toys from Christmases past, but I can’t help myself. I’m having visions of hours spent playing with my Barbies, Cabbage Patch Doll, and Precious Places.

As I outgrew these toys (at an embarrassingly late age, I confess), I made sure they weren’t disposed of but rather stored in plastic storage containers that still remain in my parents’ attic. I always had this romantic idea of saving my favorite toys and presenting them to my daughter and spending hours quietly playing with all of my treasured possessions from childhood.

The reality is somewhat different than I had imagined…

First of all, I have boys. Two rowdy, extremely active boys. Yes, Spencer has been known to associate with Barbies (and Dolly, of course), and they do enjoy playing with their Fisher Price dollhouse, but most of their pretend play these days involves people being in danger and someone flying in to the rescue. More often than not, their Little People are on the dollhouse roof or hurtling across the room (flying, you know). I don’t have an issue with them playing with dolls, just breaking dolls. Which brings me to my next point…

Second, kids, especially boys, are rough. My kids generally treat their toys pretty well, but things to occasionally get broken. When I brought home a small box of a few select Precious Places toys from Mom’s attic, they lasted about two days before I pulled the toys back from the front line and into the barracks (closet) where they could recover and stay safely hidden from my hooligans.

Also, sometimes memories should stay memories. It was slightly depressing to see the faded stickers and the aging plastic, not living up to how my admittedly rose-colored recollections have preserved them. I’m sure Miles and Spencer weren’t as impressed with my toys, which are certainly no longer in collectible state.

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Tonight, my husband decided to bring in his favorite vintage toy from the garage, an item that recently made its way to our home from a storage unit in Ohio. This particular piece of Brandon’s history has become a bit of a legend. It’s been used in sermon illustrations and has on many occasions brought a wistful look to his eye.

What is this playtime artifact? My friends, I give you the Masters of the Universe: Castle Grayskull, the male equivalent of Barbie’s Dream House.

I could tell that Brandon had been waiting for this moment for some time, the moment his boys discovered a new level of playthings — going from child to BOY. He carefully opened Castle Grayskull and began pulling out He-Man and other similar dolls action figures from their storage box.

I could tell this wasn’t going to live up to his fantasies when Miles held up a figure, some kind of angry-looking bee man (I don’t know, folks. Boy toys are weird.) [Edited to add — Buzz-Off…His name is Buzz-Off.] and said “Oooh, look! It’s a butterfly!” I tried to hide my laughter as Brandon continued showing them items from the box. When he tried to explain the He-Man character in a very rudimentary way, Miles interrupted him and said “Pee Man? He’s Pee Man?? Look, he’s got undies!”

With a sigh, Brandon resigned himself to the fact that our boys just aren’t quite ready for Castle Greyskull just yet. They’ve still got a few years of Fisher Price in them before they move on to bigger, better, and more boyish toys.

As for me, I still think with a slight sad longing about the dusty bin of Barbies at my Mom’s house. It’s looking more and more like I’ll never have that quiet afternoon playing dolls with a daughter, but I’m becoming less attached to that idea. Raucous and wild, my boys have my heart, and chasing after a moment only takes away from today.

Maybe one day I’ll send those Barbies off to a new home, but I’m not quite ready to do so. After all, I’ll have grandchildren one day, right??

What was your favorite toy growing up? Do you let your kids play with them?

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About Krista

Krista is a full-time working mom of two boys, currently aged 6 and 7. She lives in Kentucky with her husband, Brandon.


  1. I totally get this. My guys have really enjoyed playing with my fisher price house I had growing up mainly because of the garage! They recently discovered the carebears, and that went pretty well. But I have really been hoping that they might be interested in some of the playschool heroes line that came out for preschool age kids. Right now they have zero interest in super heroes, so we’ll be sticking to Disney Cars for now.

  2. I think my brother had that castle!

    I have no kiddos, but I think it’s fun to go into the past. A few years ago I got my brother an Atari Flashback for Christmas – it was a HUGE hit. We spent hours playing Atari and this one has a bunch of the old games but in a new format so it kind of DOES live up to your memories. Kind of genius.

  3. I always loved playing with parents’ old toys!

    I’d love to get my hands on an original Nintendo…

  4. I am so there with you! I had a girl first and had not idea what boys consider play. Zane’s idea of play is to climb up and down the kitchen table. It is exhausting. And don’t you worry about those Barbies- they are invading my house one Barbie at a time,lol!