What was your favorite toy when you were a child? Do you still have it? What did it mean to you?
There was a stuffed rabbit named Juniper, long gone, who was my favorite stuffed animal.
There were the Colorforms Outer Space Men, also departed, who tapped into every child's "cool monster" center decades before the current wave of "Mon", and who left me with a life-long tendency to empathize with The Alien.
There was a teddy bear my sisters brought back from camp one year, who was just another stuffed animal in my childhood days. Somehow, though, he survived all the moves and cleanings and purges of belongings, and gained my respect and affection. He lost an eye along the way, and, when I first went off to college, I gave him an eyepatch, turned an old sock into a turtleneck, and dubbed him "Nick Furry, Agent of B.E.A.R.". He's held that name for almost thirty years now, far longer, needless to say, than he was just Oso The Random Teddy Bear.
My favorite. by far, however, had to have been my very first G.I. Joe. He was, originally, one of the Mercury astronaut Joes that Hasbro produced, starting in the year I was born, though I suspect he dates from a couple of years after that. This was Archetypal Joe: 12" tall, no "Kung-Fu Grip", not even the fuzzy, flocked, "life-like hair" of the early '70s.
I had a bunch
of G.I. Joes, as did most of my friends as a kid, but this one was always the senior officer. The whole neighborhood respected the obvious air of authority bestowed by painted-on hair. He was the Old Soldier, hailing from the days when G.I. Joe was "America's Movable Fighting Man", and those "Adventure Team" tyros paid him his due, by gum.
His foil-coated space suit is long gone; he's dressed in the green fatigues of a later acquisition. When all the rest of my collection was bestowed onto my younger cousin, I held on to him, making some excuse about "first run" and "valuable collectible", but that was smoke and mirrors. Valuable he may be, though the collector's market has little respect for toys actually well-used
and played with
It's a moot point, though.
You don't sell your best friend.
Somewhere in the depths of quelonzia
's garage, both Nick Furry and the Old Soldier slumber comfortably in a box, awaiting the Day of the Great Unpacking, when they shall, once more, be seated upon a shelf, displayed for all the world to see.
And sometimes, maybe, just maybe, when nobody's watching ...
... someone will play with them again, too.
Because that's what toys are for