Is there a more nostalgia-inducing holiday than Halloween? Whether it's of a particularly creative (although slightly itchy, perhaps) costume or an impressively large candy haul, Halloween memories have a tendency to make us wistful for days gone by.
Welcome to Nostalgia Week on The Book Case. Each day this week, we'll be featuring a guest post by the author of a recent book that's sure to induce nostalgia of some sort–whether it's for candy, TV shows, movies or more.
Today's post is by Christopher Byrne, author of Toy Time! Brimming with color photographs, this super-fun book features profiles of the biggest toy sensations from the 1940s up through the 1980s, including Chatty Cathy, Slip 'N Slide, Lite-Brite, Hot Wheels, Transformers and dozens more. It's time to get reacquainted with your favorite childhood toys. It's Toy Time! Here's Christopher:
Toys have an amazing power—in childhood and, it turns out, throughout one’s life. We never forget the toys we wanted, the toys we had, the toys we didn’t get. These toys and the memories of them become part of our identities, and over the years I’ve had the pleasure of hearing many stories, both hilarious and heartbreaking about favorite toys.
For Boomers and beyond, toys are cultural markers that are very specific to their time, more so than any other product. Our toys have a totemic power, and revisiting or reflecting on them touches the deep and powerful connection each of us has to our childhood. I talked to hundreds of people in person—and hundreds more online—in creating Toy Time!, and I was always surprised and delighted by the power and vibrancy of these memories. How did we choose these toys? Well, the current buzzword is “crowd sourcing,” but really, we just talked to folks as we put this collection together, selecting toys that had cultural significance and shaped thousands of childhoods. Here are some things you may not know about some of those classic toys:
• Twister was about to be pulled by retailers for lack of interest—until Johnny Carson and Eva Gabor played it on “The Tonight Show.” On the game’s 30th anniversary, Regis Philbin and Dolly Parton recreated that legendary competition.
• Major Matt Mason, Mattel’s astronaut answer to Hasbro’s G.I. Joe, went into space for real in 1998 along with John Glenn on his final shuttle mission aboard the Discovery.
• Silly Putty was famous for being able to pick up images from newspapers. But it won’t do it any more. Not because Silly Putty has changed, but today’s newsprint uses different inks that don’t transfer. Hands stay cleaner, but Silly Putty has lost a little.
• Strawberry Shortcake’s friend Raspberry Tart got a new name—Raspberry Torte. Seems like there was a bit of sensitivity about whether or not her moniker could give her a questionable reputation, ushering in the age of hypersensitivity about things of this nature.
• Trivial Pursuit came about as a result of an argument between two friends, Scott Abbot and Chris Haney, over who had the better grasp of trivia. Between 1983 and 1985, more than 30 million games were produced, so it looks like they both won.
Thanks, Christopher! What do you think, readers? Will you be checking out Toy Time!? What was your favorite childhood toy?
[Images from Toy Time! Used with permission.]