Seeing some of the new toys being stocked in the local military exchange the other day, I realized how technologically sophisticated toys have become. Being a child today must be so cool. Oh wait, I never really grew up.
Even now, all my toys are electronic. I have a couple of iPads on which I play games like Asphalt 8. Boy, what a cool game. Really fun to smash the doors off the competition. Plus favorites like Tunnel Shoot. But I mostly use those devices for research and contributing to my blog.
I also own a very old Mac Mini, courtesy of my brother, who felt I was deprived, having to suffer in a PC world. I can play some games on it and was pleasantly surprised that I could play Victoria II on it. Of course I had to reduce graphics demands, but it was playable.
The PC is my pride and joy. After all, I built it with my own two hands. If I’d had four hands, I guess I could have built two? Any way, it’s kind of old with a 2.4 GHZ cpu, but with the hybrid hard drives, it’s really, really fast. In fact, my most complicated game, X3 Albion Prelude runs fantastically on it, even with the Battlestar Galactica and twenty other mods included (Thanks to HawkBs, ApricotSlice, Killerog and others too numerous to mention). Yes, no more slide show effect when killing the evil Cylon Baseships.
However, this post isn’t about how much coolness is in today’s games. Rather, it’s about my memories. Many of my toys sparked my imagination, while others were just difficult. One thing remains true today, however, as it did then; my favorite toys electrocuted me.
Some of my toys were wild west related, such as the cap sixgun and felt cowboy hat I had when I was four and five years old. Even I had Lincoln Logs, which really isn’t fun when you can only build a log house or a trading post. Sadly, there were no expansion kits in 1964.
There was that odd thing called Tinkertoy. It was basically, plastic bologna slices and sticks. I tried to build towers and suchlike with it but they would up collapsing and even tearing or otherwise damaging the plastic parts. Never could figure out the point of that.
At one point in my childhood, I received a knock-off set of Legos. It came with a giant (to me) sewing kit box that held somewhere around ten thousand blocks. I was able to build houses with it, as well as planes and cars. It was so cool. I even built train stations with it to go with the HO scale train set. None of that stuff was available like Luke Skywalker’s land speeder. Oh well.
I had an Erector Set. That was cool in that it came with small motors and I could build cranes and dump trucks that moved around and did things. But rust and neglect eventually rendered it useless. Besides, I knew another kid who had the entire complement of sets. He used that to build pretend skyscrapers.
There were other things like racing sets. All my kid’s life I wanted but never got an Ideal Slotless Racing Set. I knew a kid who had one and it was so much fun. But the cars were expensive to maintain and we only got to play with it on the advice of his mother.
My racing set was of some formula cars. I remember receiving that one Christmas. However, m dad had invited one of his friends over and they played until they broke it. So it never worked for me. But that was alright, I still pushed the cars around on the floor when I was alone.
The most awful electric toy I ever received was a Lionel Train set. Imagine being a five year old boy and your Lionel derails. Placing the cars back on the track was no problem, but having to lift that heavy locomotive? Well, I don’t have to tell you that there was no fun in that. I was so happy to receive ‘The General’ by Tyco, in HO scale, no less. That train was fun, but playing on a waxed wooden floor was nigh on impossible. You see, I had to replace the train every time the weight and speed of the train separated the tracks. What was really cool was that I could pour in the mineral oil and make it puff smoke.
What was not cool, was that my brother , seeing me, holding section of track in each hand, was crawling toward the transformer. I knew what he was doing and started screaming at him to not go near it. I tried to drop the rails, but he was too fast for me. His foot lashed out and he kicked the switch full over. I was writhing and screaming. I guess my screams curdled my mom’s blood and she came running into the room, knocking the track out of one hand.
Later, I discovered the joy of bobby pins and electrical outlets. I was in the large dining room with the really shiny wooden floor. I had found some bobby pins and found I could bend them into a prong shape. I found that I could stick one into an outlet and watch it turn red, burning the enamel off and then as it turned white, separating in two. I wanted to touch it, but it was really hot.
Eventually I was able to put two and two together and thought maybe the power of electricity could do for me what it did for my train. So I did what any idiot child with no knowledge would do. I held up two bobby pins and stuck hem into the outlet. I felt a sharp and painful tingle in my arms and heard a loud pop. An instant later, I was sliding across the floor and I hit the other wall. I did this two or three more times until my mother came in. she slapped the pins out of my hand and gathered me up, all the while cooing and crying. When I finally did look at her, I saw that she was really frightened.
I soon graduated to burning the trash.