Stinker toys

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One of my fondest memories of childhood was shattered yesterday. My wife bought a new set of Tinkertoys for a class project. They’re plastic.

Back in the old days one of the most popular toys in the world were Tinkertoys. A big, round barrel-like can with a metal lid, filled to the brim with wooden dowels in various colors and lengths, thick wooden discs with holes in the side and around the perimeter, and green cardboard fan things. The dowels were slotted on the ends so they’d not only fit easily into the holes in the wooden discs, but you could also slip those fan things in the little slots to make propellers and other cool stuff.

For a class project my wife teaches, she had me order her a set of Tinkertoys and to be bluntly honest I couldn’t wait for them to arrive. I hadn’t thought of them in decades and looked forward to personally “testing” them for her for at least an hour or two. But they came – in a crummy cardboard box, not a barrel! – and everything in the box is plastic. The dowels, the discs, even the green fan things; all plastic. I couldn’t possibly be more disappointed.

Admittedly there are now a couple different types of discs now, plus elbows and other interesting shapes and parts that probably increase by a hundredfold the things kids can make with them. I suppose a kid who’d never seen the old ones would like them just fine. But to me, it was just wrong.

That’s the way things go, though; no sense being a Luddite about things that change. Plus, I can rest a bit easier knowing that some of the old things – like Lincoln Logs – are still made of good old wood.

The silver lining here is that despite my crushed memories, I now know exactly what I’m going to make my grandson for Christmas this year.

A.J.

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