Tag Archives: playing with toys

Toy Time Again…

Kids like me need to play with toys.


Even though I am sixty-plus-years-old, I am stressed enough by everyday life that I need to take some time to get the toys out of the toy box and play with them, making up fantastical stories in my head and pretending the world is the way I want it to be.

I mean, why can’t fire-fighter Barbie fall in love with the Black Panther?

The two of them are so very different.  One is a vivacious young working girl ready to put out fires, while the other is a dark and moody superhero dead set on bringing justice to villains, no matter how powerful they might seem.  Shouldn’t they be able to find happiness together despite what the drummer bear may think about the appropriateness of two such different plastic people being in love?

And money woes, deteriorating health, recent car accidents and ratcheted-up premiums on car insurance melt into the background.  Especially if you hum to yourself as you pretend to make them kiss.  “Love is a Many Splendored Thing…”.


Not all the toys are new.  In fact, only the double-headed dragon is actually new to the over-all collection.


It’s good that the dragon can so easily make itself at home in the cardboard castle.


It would be good if it didn’t decide to eat the cardboard castle.


Wonder woman, sitting on my underwear drawer is also new.  Maybe I am buying too many toys.  But in my defense, I am in my second childhood, and sometimes I just need to play with toys.  It solves a lot of problems that I am too old and tired to make go away otherwise.  And it also makes a good short post when the idea bag is short on short topics and the time for writing is limited.



Filed under feeling sorry for myself, humor, photo paffoonies, playing with toys, toystore quests

Why I Play With Dolls… erm… Action Figures

My daughter the Princess and I went to Toys R Us this morning to spend a little of the money I had earned by proofreading a technical paper for a grad student.  I bought a My Little Pony Equestria Girl named Rarity (I already have the pony, I just needed the girl to add to the collection.)  I also bought a Minecraft sheep thing that the Princess promptly named Jed.  Apparently, in the Minecraft game online, if you name your sheep Jed, it turns rainbow colors.  And I know I didn’t slip by you the fact that the Pony Girl was my toy.  In this post I intend to explain to you why I play with little girls’ toys… and hem and haw… and rationalize… and lie… because it is really not what it seems.

It all began in 1965, on my ninth birthday, because I had discovered in the Montgomery Ward Christmas Catalog the first Action Figure, G.I. Joe, and I begged and begged and begged it for my birthday.  There were four different flavors of G.I. Joe to choose from, representing the four branches of the U.S. Military.  You could get either a sailor from the Navy, a soldier from the Army or Marines, or a pilot from the Air Force.  Of course, I was wild about the Air Force, but I was clever enough to ask for a sailor Joe because my father was a Korean Conflict Veteran who had been in the Navy on board the USS Hornet aircraft carrier.  Dad actually liked the idea and got the Navy Frog Man uniform to go along with it.  I could change Joe’s clothes and make him a cool undersea adventurer.  It only took a half hour to change him from a sailor into a frog man, and another half hour to change him out of his swim fins and wet suit back into a sailor.  It was a doll with sets of clothes to change him into just like my younger sisters’ Barbie and Tammy dolls.  Wait… what?  I had been tricked into playing with dolls?  It is like I lost my official man card even before I earned it… or even before I knew what it was.


Oh, well… it was all about the stories anyway.  Yes, I was a story-teller even then.  I built a submarine out of my Erector Set (a cherished toy from a previous Christmas) and my Joe led adventures through the vast undersea areas of our parents’ bedroom using Barbie (actually a Midge doll) and Tammy (little sister’s knock-off imitation Barbie doll) as crew.  We added to the stories and adventures as time went on, and birthdays and Christmases passed, and we accumulated more dolls.  I added Fritz, a Soldiers of the World G.I. Joe from Germany, an Air Force Pilot Joe, and an Astronaut Joe.  My sister Nanette added a Francie doll, a Christie (the first African-American Barbie), and a G.I. Joe nurse.  Little sister Maggie added a Francie of her own, a regular Barbie, and a Skipper doll to the submarine crew.  And then the stories went through the roof when I got my sweaty little hands on Captain Action and his Super-hero costumes!


Captain Action was the creation of the now defunct Ideal Toy Company as an answer to the incredible success of G.I. Joe.  You could take the basic Captain Action figure (seen above on the far right… this is the actual first figure… what’s left of him.  The right hand is long gone.  He has no fore arms.  The uniform that he is wearing is not his original.  It is basically holding his severed body parts together.  I did successfully re-attach the head) and put him in a new uniform to turn him into Batman or Superman or… Aquaman!  perfect for submarine adventures with sisters!


In the 1990’s my parents gave me the box of my old G.I. Joes.  It was like a re-awakening of childhood passions.  Several of my Joes were in terrible shape because my little brother and his semi-simian deviant friends had used fire-crackers on them a-la-Sid from Toy Story.  I began cleaning them and restoring them.  And then the internet happened.  Old guys like me that grew up with these classic toys were now trying to recapture their youth by buying and selling the toys on E-bay.  Seriously, check out this price for vintage Captain Action stuff (mint in box);

Aquaman on E-Bay  (Oops!  That $2000 toy that you can’t even play with has already sold!)

Collecting and trading dolls has become a fascinating hobby and potentially profitable (at least until age and death and bankruptcy winnow out all the old crazy guys like me who collect this sort of stuff).  And why the added obsession with Barbies and things like My Little Pony dolls?  Well, my sisters’ dolls had all been kept in a metal box.  Attics in Texas can reach 600+ degrees Fahrenheit in the Summer.  Have you ever seen a melted Barbie?  Nostalgia made me do it… that, and having a daughter… well, that’s my story, anyway.  And I am sticking to it.


Filed under doll collecting, humor, photo paffoonies

Cardboard Castles

After a long, lonely week by myself, unable to go with my family to Florida for Spring Break due to poor health, my isolation ended suddenly as they returned early.  I woke up to find them already here yesterday morning.  They were tired from travelling, having arrived in the middle of the night, and so they needed to sleep in… and I was suffering horrible cabin fever.  It mattered little, though, that I longed to get out.  I was still ill and unable to breathe outside of my sealed bedroom.  My arthritic back ached and I needed to lie in bed on the heating pad for the better part of a Saturday.  So, what could I do but use my creative talents to take me on a journey into imagination.  I built a castle.

cardcastle1 cardcastle2 cardcastle4  I used an old computer program I previously found at Half-Price Books, the big superstore thing on Northwest Highway in Dallas.  I printed out castle parts on white paper with colored ink.  I gathered pieces of reusable cardboard I had been saving for the purpose.  I began to cut and paste and tape.

cardcastle5 Cardcastle6 cardcastle7  I nearly forgot the most important step.  I put on a Dr. Who DVD I snagged at Walmart.   It was An Adventure is Space and Time starring David Bradley (who was playing William Hartnell who was the first Dr. Who, so it was a movie about an actor playing a part in a BBC fantasy series in the 1960’s played by another actor who looked like the original actor… I mean, it was a story about telling a story and it was the true story of the telling… Oh, I give up!  You figure it out.)  (That was the second longest parenthetic expression I have ever written, by the way.)  It also had a full four episode adventure from the very first Dr. Who story, An Unearthly Child, starring the real William Hartnell.  So I watched and cut and taped and pasted and built castle all day.

Cardcastle8 cardcastle9 cardcastle10  It begins to get exciting as the pieces fit together and it actually starts to look like a castle.  Of course, once it was finished, I had to play with the dang thing.  I am old, and this is my second childhood after all.

cardcastle11 cardcastle12 cardcastle14  Now, if only I can figure out how to keep female vampires dressed in red from invading my castle.


Filed under humor, making cardboard castles, photo paffoonies