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Christmas toys

The difference between men and boys is the price of their toys, an old axiom says, and that’s never more true than today.


We’ve graduated from Tonka toys and “Slinkys” to four-wheelers and interactive video games, from Hasbro to Nintendo.

What are your favorite Christmas toys ever?

Beyond the usual cap guns, drums and tricycles and bicycles, there were always my Tonka toys, a bulldozer, dump truck and road grader from Toy Town, the descendant of Toy Land in South Boston.

That sticks in my memory as well as my favorite toy gun, the Johnny Seven O.M.A. (One Man Army), the top-selling boy’s toy of 1964.

That toy came complete with grenade launcher, anti-tank rocket launcher, anti-bunker missile launcher, armor piercing shell, 10 plastic bullets for the slide action machine gun, detachable cap pistol, detachable stock and built-in bi-pod.

Pretty hard core stuff for a 9-year-old, but remember kids my age were fed a steady diet of Saturday morning cartoons at that time, later deemed too violent for children by a number of concerned parental groups.

Funny, I watched them for years and have never picked a fight in my life, but I digress.

The big toy for Christmas later on was the Globemaster, a replica of the Air Force cargo plane, complete with a nose that lifted up for loading of “heavy equipment,” in this case plastic cargo trucks. 

Other toy trends I recall included the original “pet rock,” affectionately known as “Stinky” by my uncle who received one as a Christmas gift.

It’s hard to believe someone made a fortune by simply putting rocks in a box on a bed of straw along with a list of instructions on how to care for it.

Fast forward to items such as Cabbage Patch Dolls and Beanie Babies, and later on generations of Nintendo-type video games and interactive games, such as Rock Star, and you get my drift.

I’m no smarter than a fifth-grader when it comes to figuring out cell phones or how to operate the sophisticated game systems on the market today.

Life was simpler back when toys were simpler, and many boys like me could simply pick up a stick and play “Army” in the back yard or in the woods.

I don’t see as many backyard football games as I did before, or as many youth playing outside at all for that matter, outside of playing in organized recreational leagues like baseball, football or softball.

I guess the days of sand boxes are behind us.