Do you remember your favorite toys from your childhood? I really don’t remember much about my toys from my early childhood and I have no one to ask, so the earliest toy I can clearly recall is a set of western six guns. I got them for Christmas when I was about six or so. They were the greatest gift I could have ever gotten and instantly became my favorites. You see, back in the 50’s and early 60’s western related programs dominated early television. There were only seven channels back then and Westerns ruled the airwaves.
It seems like every night there were Cowboys in the house. Shows like The Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, Kit Carson, Gene Autry, The Cisco Kid, Bat Masterson, Wagon Train, Maverick, Gunsmoke, The Rebel, Bonanza, The Rifleman, Rawhide, Death Valley Days, Have Gun Will Travel, Wanted Dead or Alive, The Lawman, Sugarfoot, Wyatt Earp, and Wild Bill Hickock, and those are just the ones I can remember! There were probably more than a dozen others. My dad used to watch them all and I loved watching them with him. I grew up on them. Back then Cowboys were my heroes! Becoming a cowboy was my dream. My friends and I played cowboys all the time. We had a football field sized empty area behind our house. Trees and tall weeds made it the perfect place to play cowboys. The block wall did little to keep us out. The Wild West called and we responded.
My new six guns were special. They were fashioned after the TV western show ‘Have Gun Will Travel’. They looked more realistic than any guns I’d ever had before. They were actually big for me and my dad had to make a few adjustments but I wore the double holster with pride. The gun barrels were longer too so I wasn’t very quick on the draw but I didn’t care. I loved them! They were definitely among my favorite toys.
Another favorite of mine were Tinker Toys. I loved playing with them. They were building sets that came packaged in a tube and included an assortment of wooden pieces that you could fit together in a variety of ways. There were sprockets, wheels, caps, couplings, spools and sticks of various lengths and colors that could be fit together. You could even get sets with battery power or electric motors. You could build just about anything with Tinker Toys. They were so cool, kind of like what Legos are today. I used to spend hours and hours building things. Sometimes I’d use my Lincoln Logs with them and build some really great things.
A toy that occupied much of my time when I was a child was my little plastic, green army men. I must have had about 300 of them. They were by far the coolest. There were soldiers on the run, some were down on one knee firing rifles, machine guns or bazookas. There were soldiers throwing grenades, crawling on their bellies, using grenade launchers, men poised in bayonet attack stances and men sitting behind tripod mounted machine guns. There was also plenty of equipment, tanks, heavy duty artillery, trucks, Jeeps and troop landers. It was my own private army. I used to spend so much time setting them all up all for war. The battles were always intense and so much fun. I loved playing with my army men. Funny thing, when I was building my pond and rock waterfall a few summers ago I remember sitting back and suddenly thinking what a cool place it would be to set up a little green army men war. I could almost see my snipers and machine gun nest in position, hidden among the rocks. It was a very cool moment.
When I got a little older my AFX 1/32 scale slot car race set became one of my favorites. It was awesome. I used to spend so many happy hours just racing round and round. When I grew tired of that I would simply come up with a new track layout and start racing all over again. It was so much fun. My friends and I would race for hours on end. Sometimes my Friend Bobby would bring his race set with him. It used the same track as mine so we would combine them and build these elaborate race tracks that took up the whole floor of my room or the patio. It was so awesome. I’d probably still enjoy racing on that old ATF today. Maybe I should.
During my childhood I had other favorites as well. I always enjoyed my Etch-a-Sketch and my Magic Eight Ball. Silly Putty was incredible to play with. I loved riding my bicycle and I’ll never forget the scooter I made from scrape pieces of lumber an orange crate and a pair of old skates. It really flew! I know they weren’t really toys but I loved my coloring books and crayons. I loved to color. So did my sister. On rainy days or when we traveled with our parents we’d color for hours. Always being careful to stay within the lines.
I suppose if I sat here and thought on it longer I could come up with more favorite toys, and will probably think of something the minute I’ve finished. But this is it for now.
These are a few of my favorite things…