Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The joys of hand-me-down toys

We received a huge load of hand-me-down toys yesterday from our friends the Heisses, who are moving back to America later this week. Jackpot! Hand-me-down toys are nothing new to us (ha ha), most notably exemplified by that time we inherited two dozen My Little Ponies. Oh glorious day.

This time is a little different, though. Many (if not most) of the toys the Heisses gave us were originally hand-me-downs to them, given to them by other families departing Cairo. Heck, some of them might even have been third- or fourth-generation hand-me-downs, the way things go around here.

So you can imagine what an interesting mix of toys it was. Think about it: although we received them in one batch, each one of these toys (or sets of toys) was acquired by a different family with different values and ideas and genders and ages of kids. Maybe some were free. Maybe some were specially saved for. Whatever they were, when the time came to go back to America or on to another overseas location, these toys did not make the cut. The only thing that the families who contributed to this pile of toys had in common for sure was that they lived at one time in Cairo, which you can understand does not make a very cohesive group.

Let's take a look!

(Before we do, let me state clearly that we were so grateful to receive all these toys since we didn't bring any with us. I am not making fun of the people who originally purchased these toys. I just think that considered as a group, they make for an interesting mix.)

First up: the belle of the ball, the one and only My Little Pony castle. It is pictured here without its various appurtenances since Miriam likes to re-assemble it before each play period. This is a true gem. Whoever handed this down to whoever, etc., THANK YOU.

Your run-of-the-mill letter/number floor blocks. Nothing special. Magdalena likes them.

I consider these to be quite the treasure: a set of Ladybug magazines from the mid-1990s. They are in almost pristine condition. I am so grateful for this collection of fresh, interesting reading material for the girls.

Highlights magazines. Meh. In my memory, this magazine is irrevocably associated with childhood doctor and dentist visits (it was all they ever had in the waiting room and the puzzles were always already completed) so I can hardly even look at the cover without feeling all sick and nervous and disappointed.

There are a few books like these - almost normal storybooks, but not quite, because they came free with something (like Heartgard).

Along with the pony castle, some teeny tiny pony dishes. Very cute, but I'm glad there are only a few of them because it makes it easier to manage. (I've always wondered why some toys say on the box, "over 372 individual pieces!" like it's an asset instead of a huge, headache-y liability.)

This was the unexpected favorite for Magdalena. You press a button on this thing and it plays the refrain from a song apparently called Dubi Dam Dam. Repeatedly. She walks around the house and dances to it, so whatever!

A set of small plastic rabbit bowling pins. Awesome.

I thought I knew every classic educational game out there but this lot of hand-me-down toys has a few surprises in it. These matching disks are rather neat.

OK, here comes the really wacky stuff. These - wrestling...guys? I'm not sure - were sprinkled liberally throughout the toy tub. I still haven't discovered them all. Gee, I can't imagine why they got left behind...

Here's a sampling of The Rest - all the things I couldn't quite put a category to, and they don't seem to go with anything else. We've got random character in red, a cat nose, lady's head on a spaceship (seriously someone tell me what that is), a pirate, an orange guy, a large surfboard, and dear goodness is that Kevin Costner?

I think it is.

I'll leave you with this video of the toy that gives me an idea of what hell must be like. I know I'm abnormally sensitive to toys that make noise, but I have to believe that even people who claim they aren't bothered by noisy toys, would be bothered by this one. Watch the video and try to imagine being in the same room as this thing. Also, the "music" doesn't stop. It just keeps going until you manually turn it off.
Hooray for random hand-me-down toys!

(Except that last one.)


Spencer said...

I'm just guessing here, not having seen the toys in person, but the 'lady's head on a spaceship' sure looks like a piece of Star Wars paraphernalia. Queen Amidala, perhaps?

Matthew said...

Yes, it is Padme Amidala, circa Movie #2 (post queen phase). If memory serves, it was a popular happy meal toy insert for a while.

Bridget said...

OK, but why is her head on a spaceship?

Also, I don't think that really looks like her.

PS - Miriam had a playdate with a friend here today and while going through the toy bin, this friend said, "Hey, I gave this toy to [kid's name]!" Then she said someone else had given it to her. So there's proof right there of a fourth-generation hand-me-down.

JosephJ said...

Yeah, I've seen the "head on a spaceship" too and thought it was weird. It may have been tucked in a geocache somewhere, which is another source of very odd toys.

Listening to the noisy toy, it brought to memory the sounds at a children's arcade with all the various bells, boings, and bouncing going on there. I would surmise that you aren't a big fan of children's arcades.

For what it's worth, we have never purchased toys with sound effects. Somehow they accumulate and regenerate through gifts from friends who have had enough, grandparents who are trying to get even, or others who despite their good intentions don't realize that toys that squawk are maddening! ;)

Liz Johnson said...

I would actually kill someone if I had to listen to that last toy all day. I have been known to "lose" toys that are too noisy. I'm sorry, do you want your obnoxious cash register, or do you want to survive until Tuesday? Blah.

That is so awesome. New toys are the best, hand-me-down or not!

Suzanne Bubnash said...

The hand-me-down toys we inherited were usually better than what we already had. Anything new (even used) to a child is like Christmas; M&M would surely agree. I found a stack of Cricket mags this week and handed them off to Brooklyn. Should she keep them for Meme?

Karen said...

Since the Heisses are moving into my house, I am SOOOOO glad they decided to leave the Dubi Dam Dam toy with you; I had my fill of that while I stayed with them for a couple of months!

Andrew said...

That noisy house-thing was GREAT until Rachel discovered how to turn it on. Oy! And yet we never got rid of it. Oh, well. :)

Enjoy them all. Even the head on the spaceship.

Also I am now incredibly curious about your play date.

--Nancy (not Andrew)

Andrew said...

Also, Padme's head wasn't a hand me down. We got it from a Hardee's happy meal, years after both episodes II and III. Yeah. They're waaay behind on happy meal toys here, apparently.

--Andrew, not Nancy

Bridget said...

Nancy/Andrew, it was Sarah H and the toy she was talking about is that red musical wind-up thing that plays Brother John. She said someone gave it to their family, then she gave it to Rachel, then Rachel gave it to us...

It was so funny since I had just written this post.

cori Keller said...

To add more light to the mysterious unkowns, I believe the red guy, the one with the flames, is The Human Torch of The Fantastic Four. Also, the pirate, of course, is the famous Caption Jack Sparrow. I am guessing both these toys are also of Happy Meal origin.. actually I am 99.9% sure.

Nancy said...

Oh, okay! I know what you're talking about now. We HAD to leave that toy. Rachel will keep winding it up for HOURS. At least, what seems like hours.

Also, I think that's probably Captain Hook and not Jack just seems like it should be older than Pirates of the Caribbean.

Mikael said...

I have to admit I rarily pay full price for toys. hand me downs are the way to go!! And score on kevin costner doll... HOT! JK!

cori said...

my bad.. that is indeed Caption Hook not Jack Sparrow

Gigi said...

Hey Bridget! I just caught up with your blog (after a year)! Egypt? How fun! Cosette gave Meme the Pony Castle. Do the turrets still come off with the slightest breeze? I'll have to catch you up on our adventures some day. Still miss you and the girls (and Jeremy too)!


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