I Wound Up Recreating Toys of My Youth Despite Best Intentions

Mighty Max and Micro Machines were the big toys of my early years.  They were awesome.  One or two plastic figurines (aka; dolls) to bounce around a small scene and play out fun stories with was all that was needed to keep an afternoon busy or a car ride short.  My brother and I had scores of these little sets. Looking back, I do wonder if we had so many options simply to keep us quiet for a little while as dinner was prepared or the drive to some far off place was underway.  I totally understand that need as it is exactly why I made the above item.

While Micro Machines were once the highlight of holidays centered around gifts, to the best of my knowledge (read: speed walking through Target and glancing over the toy section while convincing the children the entire section is a hologram and cannot be touched) they are limited to Star Wars themes.  Fun, but good golly if I hear any more lightsaber sounds effects (read: violent spitting from the toddler and the high pitched tone of a squirrel in a turning car engine from the firstborn), I’m going to scream.  The Mighty Max concepts are gone entirely.  Nowadays (boy howdy does that word make me feel old) everything is pretty big and a kid would really have to want it to swallow a LittlePeople figurine.

The goal for the above playset is to be placed in a hinged box, expanded with trees and scenery of some sort and made available as a travel companion.  The kids saw it before I was able to do any of this though so it is currently in play.

My kids fruggin’ love The Spiderwick Chronicles. Check out the audiobooks if you can, they’re narrated by Mark Hamill.  The books are wildly better than the movie.  Anyway, you know what doesn’t exist anymore? Toys themed to Spiderwick.

I have no artistic ability.  Drawing a straight line with a ruler is tough enough, I’m not about to hand draw a bunch of goblins.  Thank goodness for the internet though.  I stole images -for non commercial purposes of entertaining children, does that make it “okay” or just less rude?- to place on wooden token cut with my beloved scroll saw. When the tokens were discovered goblins immediately started falling to Mallory’s sword and Jared and Simon took to defending the fieldguide.  Later in the evening a goblin did manage to capture the book and it is now missing.  Thankfully it is a rectangle and easy to replace.

The kids really don’t care about the lack of detail or extra white space.  I wonder if they even see it.  They have the Grace children and the Spiderwick house at their disposal!

The project took about an hour.  Mostly trying to fix the tension rod on the scroll saw and second guessing if I installed the blade right side up.  The house was fun to cut.  Big thanks to my dad for showing me some cutting tips on odd corners.  I wasn’t about to try to fully cut the tokens.  Way too small; they’d snap like twigs.  The house is held into the base with dowels so it can pop out and rest flat for future traveling (if I ever get it into a box).  I used wood glue to paste the paper to the wood.  I have no idea if it will work for an extended time, but here’s hoping.  Perhaps polyurethane in future incarnations.

For years I have tried to give the kids their own childhood, avoiding things I found commonplace in my own.  No particular reason, I’m fine with my upbringing as it was full of awesome toys and lots of fun.  They deserve their own experiences.  I’m from a different time than they are, it’s far from necessary to recreate the world of 25 years ago.  Mighty Max never heard of a cell phone or safe-search.  Storytelling though. Storytelling is important.  Providing them a way to re-enact their favorite stories and make them their own, working with different characters to build personalities and backgrounds, that teaches them something that every generation needs.

Long story short, I only feel kinda’ bad about taking images from the internet to make the toy.

Thanks for reading!


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