July 25th, 2014


Chugga Chugga Chugga Choo Choo!

Recently I became a parent and with that new role came a whole new world of toy shopping! Granted I love toy shopping, but mainly for myself in mind. I couldn’t believe how far toys have come since I was a child and much changed. It was strange to judge a toy on safety and whether or not the baby would have ‘fun’ with it. It was no longer a matter of “Hey that looks cool!” But now it’s a matter of “Is he going to put that in his mouth and if so is it safe?”

For the next few posts I’m going to share past and present takes on similar toys and how they evolved over the years.

Starting off, what boy didn’t love playing with trains? This is a photo of my dad’s toy train from the 1930’s. Tin-plated, sharp corners and a very fast wind-up toy train indeed! My understanding is that he had to build the train before he could let her rip around the track. Unlike today where the train is pretty much ready to run out-of-box! Can you imagine his delight when he opened that train on his 1st birthday??? He loved that train dearly and I was fortunate enough to have it past down to me.

Now when I was a tot, I had a different kind of train. A Brio wooden train that had freight cars made out of stacking blocks (Shown below in the Blog). A fantastic train with metal hook connectors and bright colors simply made this train ‘pop’! I use to run around the house on my knees driving the train into pretty much anything that got in the way. Good thing it was heavy wood and strong to with stand my abuse! I know Brio still produces wooden trains, but they certainly are not the same caliber as the one I had.

Going forward thirty some years, I buy my boy his first train. A Duplo plastic ‘Number Train’, bland colors, stackable, but not very exciting at all. However, it’s safe (for his mouth) he gets to build it and basically it’s the only thing out there on the market for babies. I know there’s a huge market for Thomas the Train and other wooden train sets, but he’s not at that stage yet. Regardless this post is about comparing trains from different periods when parents were in the same position I find myself in. It’s interesting how the period we’re in is focused on safety, if it’s made from eco-friendly material, cooperate branding, mentally stimulating, everything but fun!

In the end the parents have the final say in what their child plays with, they’re the ones paying for it.