Thursday, July 12, 2007

Can you Etch A Sketch?

From the world of the trivial and immaterial comes this...

It's been 47 years since the Etch A Sketch was released to a dumbfounded world. Deceptively simple on the surface, it survived at the top of my toy box long after everything else had either sunk permanently to the bottom or was mysteriously scooped into a garbage bag and left by the curb when I wasn't looking.

My Etch A Sketch survived through more hospital stays than I can count, and somewhat perversely it eventually became an icon of my upbringing. I wish I had held onto it. Maybe there's some garage sale-hunting (or craigslist, perhaps?) in my near future.

If you're feeling nostalgic for a time when toys didn't require batteries and an electrical engineering degree, you may find yourself - just as I did - taking a sketchy tour of the Ohio Art Company official website, the Wiki entry, Wired's take on it, and the inevitable online version - better known as Etchy - of this venerable toy.

Your turn: Can you share a thought about a childhood toy that mattered to you long after you morphed into an adult. What made it special to you? Why do some toys become meaningful classics while others are almost immediately relegated to that mythical forgotten pile?

19 comments:

Mike said...

I remember my etch a sketch fondly. Another toy that I really liked was Lincoln logs. I would build large buildings with them, knock it down and start again.

Michele sent me.

mckay said...

when i was a kid i collected breyer plastic horses, which i adored and played with nonstop for years and years. i finally (and regretfully) got rid of them at a garage sale after my divorce. since then i saw my old friend, Paint, on ebay and bought him back. he's now back on my shelf in my bedroom. he might even be the exact same horse, at least i like to think he is.

colleen said...

They still sell Etch-a-sketch. It's a classic. Some others that I still love are a slinky and silly puddy.

Carmi, I'm always happy when you come for a visit ... on your own or with a nudge from our friend Michele.

Awareness said...

yes, I too had an etch a sketch and loved it.

my most memorable toy was a pogo stick. For some reason, I got it in my head that I wanted one for my birthday. They weren't popular and my parents must've scoured every store in Hamilton and Toronto to find it. And, they did.

It was bright red with black handles......I jumped on that thing for hours and hours....hopping to school in the mornings and home at lunch....I wore the darn thing out.

carli said...

I can't even begin to make a list, but if I had to name two. . . no, I can't. . . I'll name 3. . .
Fisher Price Little People. Long after I'd reached the maximum suggested age, my friend Jessica and I were building families and villages out of the giant cardboard box of Little People. Each Little Person had his or her story. It was like Desperate Housewives, but with toys. Back then, they were much smaller than they are now, and some of mine are even made out of wood. And yet, I survived childhood without choking or contracting tetanus from a stray splinter.

Dolly Pops. These were plastic dolls whose clothing you simply snapped (or "popped") on. And the clothes weren't just clothes; they were attached to a bike or a dog, so you popped on the outfit, and poof! She's not just stylin', she's stylin' and BIKING. I bought a set of these on ebay years ago, and they still smelled the way I remembered them.

Play-Doh. I still use this. I squeeze it. It's an enormous stress reliever. If I were rich, I would commission an artist to photograph Play-Doh creations.

I was never good with Etch-a-Sketch. I made a mean staircase, but that was pretty much it.

Chad Oneil said...

I had an etch a sketch as well as an "etch a sketch animator", remember those??? That was during the late 80's/early 90's.

Legos were a big hit with me as well as Hot Wheels cars which I still enjoy looking at from time to time at Wal-Mart ;)

One of my favorite toys were the two radio controlled cars that I had. One was a Baja Buggy of sorts and the other that came after it was a monster truck.

Those are some of the obsessions I had as a kid.

...the original "Gameboy" that I got when I was around 14 was also one of my favs.

Charles in HK said...

I still have some toys from my childhood that every once in a while I let the kids play with. (Otherwise I say, "Go find your Etch A Sketch!") One of these old toys is a very small, pale blue car that I received from my grandparents on a trip to Quebec City (from Toronto) circa 1966/1967. Just don't wanna give it up. I am a melancholy, nostalgic kind of guy!

Miz UV said...

I loved my Super Spirograph. Made some awesome pictures. I was super OCD about it too, throwing away every paper that had even the tiniest imperfection. Sorta what I did with everything else... Anyway, fast forward 20 years and I went to buy a Spirograph for my kids -- they don't have pins now! Someone might hurt themselves and sue bla bla. Well, the pictures don't come out right and it's no fun any more. :(

R. Sherman said...

Hey, Carmi.

Not here via Michele, inasmuch as I've been here before.

I had a Tonka Jeep that I loved. I had it stuck in the recesses of my closet until I went to college. As with Mckay, my Mom got rid of it.

Good times.

Cheers.

Lori said...

Have you ever looked at the following website?

http://www.rainybayart.com/

He does art work on the Etch A Sketch. Sometimes he uses a special method to drain the powder out and glues the knobs to make the images permanent.

kenju said...

My Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys were favorites long into my adulthood, as was the Etch a Sketch. We bought one for our son when he was a boy, and I used to play on it more than he did!

BreadBox said...

Not so much a toy, as a pastime which started when I was sick with bronchitis every year: I began doing origami, and got to be okay, for a child. Then I grew up, and put away childish things.

And it wasn't until recently, at the age of umptythreve that I really rediscovered how much I love it!

N.

Stacy said...

Mine is from when I was very young. I had a Dr. Doolittle doll. There was nothing really amazing about him, except the idea that he could talk to animals. I desperately wanted to do that, too. Maybe I was hoping it would rub off on me!

Catherine said...

My dolls house, which my father made for me late at night over many nights, so that I wouldn't know that Father Christmas didn't bring it. I used to make furniture for it out of matchboxes, which the old man next door, who smoked, saved for me.
In New Zealand in the fifties, there were very strict import controls, and we really didn't have that many toys. A lot of toys that Americans remember from that time period just weren't available here.

Marie said...

I just bought one of these for my son a couple weeks ago! I thought it would be good to have in the bathroom to keep him seated, for toilet-training -- I'm producing quite the masterpieces (ha ha)!

patricia said...

I had an Etch-a-sketch, but always preferred to play with pencils, crayons, marker and paper. With those simple yet wonderful toys, there was no limit to what I could do.

Linda said...

The etch a sketch is alive and well in my family! Each kid has one, a small mini keychain version, of course. And we have the Etch-a-Sketch Wired - plug and play for your TV. Not quite so fun - but hey - you can make patterns in the "leaves" with a "lawnmower"...can do that with an original.

I had lots of favorites as a child...but I guess my best had to be playdoh. I adored the stuff, and had so many versions of it. Nowadays, though, I can't stand the mess, particularly when my kids grind it into the berber of our rented duplex....eeeek!

leslie said...

I still have all my old stuffed animals in a box at my parents house. All the other toys have either broken or been thrown out, but I can't bare to part with my stuffed animals. I'm not sure why I love them so much. I guess it's hard to throw out toys that are so darn cute.
Michele sent me

Beverly said...

When I was in the sixth grade, I had a Duncan yo-yo. It had rhinestones in a row, so that when it spun, it glittered. When I walked the dog with it, the paint began to wear off the edges. That made it even better, because it showed that I could really do it.

Of course, I could go around the world with it too. I loved my yo-yo.