Small Talk Tag: Toy

Viva Video Games!

video games

Did you know the first video game was invented by a physicist in 1958? That practically seems like the dark ages compared to all of the video games we’ve come to know and love in the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and beyond! Now that technology is moving at a more rapid pace than ever, what happens to all of the outmoded video game systems, not to mention the games themselves?

Fear not: Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Q*bert and others live on! The Strong National Museum of Play’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games contains every major video game platform manufactured in the U.S. since 1972, more than 20,000 video games for consoles, and more than 7,000 for personal computers. Think of how much allowance that adds up to! Focusing only on console systems, The National Videogame Museum announced its permanent home in Frisco, Texas last year. The museum’s goal is to build an all-inclusive, interactive museum for every game system ever. And before you start gathering your quarters, check out the Internet Arcade, home to some of the best (and super nostalgic) arcade games from the 1970s-’90s.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Steeped in History: The Montereau Tea Set

montereau pottery

Tea time, anyone? Children’s toy dishes and tea sets can be found in a variety of materials, from wood and tin to porcelain and plastic. When porcelain became widespread in the 19th century due to technological and scientific advances, factories began producing toy tea sets and doll accessories. Tea sets became especially popular in the mid-to-late 1800s when Queen Victoria popularized “taking tea.”

Due to the lack of documentation, it is often hard to track the origin of these sets. Lucky for us, this child-sized set in T/m’s collection is marked “Montereau” and “LL,” indicating the set originates from a Montereau pottery shop in the Oise region of France. The yellow-glazed earthenware has crisp, black transfer patterns and hand painted rims. We bet a little girl saved this “good china” for a special occasion.

Batteries Not Included

classic wooden toys

Think of all the toys you’ve played with that came with the caveat, “batteries not included.” Bummer, right? The sheer disappointment that ensued after opening a new gift only to realize its inability to function without batteries isn’t easily forgotten!

While battery-operated and other electronic toys continue to captivate kids (and adults), a trend to revive analog or “slow toys” has emerged. Combine that with recent consumer safety issues from toys made abroad and the result is Americans are once again smitten with the wooden toys of yesteryear. One of the perennial favorites, Lincoln Logs, has returned 80% of production back to the U.S. after being made in China for nearly 60 years. Pennsylvania-based Channel Craft has built an entire catalog of toys that your grandparents or even great-grandparents likely played with. Can the simple joys of tops, train whistles, boomerangs, and yo-yos divert our attention from Angry Birds or Nintendo 3DS? Maybe for a bit. One thing’s certain: they’ll still be around when electronic toys’ batteries run out of juice!
Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Let’s Go Fly a Kite

kite exhibition

For centuries, kites have remained one of the most universal outdoor toys. A symbol of childhood and freedom, the playthings can be found everywhere from suburban America to Brazilian favelas to the villages of Japan. A new exhibit at the V&A Museum of Childhood prominently displays a colorful kaleidoscope of kites from Kabul, Afghanistan.

Kites from Kabul is a partnership between the museum and British charity Turquoise Mountain. Established in 2006, Turquoise Mountain’s Institute for Afghan Arts and Architecture teaches young Afghans traditional arts and crafts like calligraphy, ceramics, and jewelry-making. Videos and photographs of the children who made the kites accompany the installation. A product of the intersection of art and play, the kite exhibition aims to foster greater understanding of Afghan culture.
Photo: Andrew Quilty/Oculi, V&A Museum of Childhood.

 

Jumping for Joy

raggy doodle paratrooper doll

Parachute troopers played a decisive role in World War II. The D-Day invasion, which led to the end of the war, began with an attack by American parachute troopers. With their parachute, the troopers carried between 90-120 pounds on their back. They were jumping into unknown territory so they had to be ready for anything!

Thus, it comes as no surprise that the Prager and Rueben Company began making parachute trooper toys. The brown cloth Raggy-Doodle U.S. Paratrooper had a sewn-on aviator’s helmet and goggles. His painted aviation harness kept his heavy backpack and parachute in place. As you can imagine, T/m’s parachute trooper probably had many an adventure jumping out of bedroom windows, and off of tall trees, or maybe the occasional roof. Geronimo!

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