Childhood Toys: A Retrospective

Cedars asked what childhood toys were students’ favorites. Here’s a glimpse of how students spent their leisure time before they ever encountered the words “final exams.”

Buzz Lightyear


For senior Drew Saur, the toy that said “To infinity and beyond!” was the best. He received a Buzz Lightyear talking action figure for Christmas just months after he had seen “Toy Story,” the first movie he watched in a theater.

Saur recalled the two other phrases his toy would say: “Buzz Lightyear, Star Command, reporting for duty,” and, “Come in Star Command. Star Command, do you read me?”

Saur said he did nearly everything with Buzz Lightyear, his first “older-kid” toy.

“I made it strike poses,” he said. “I made it battle my Legos. I made it fly.”

Saur said the toy became even more meaningful to him four years ago when his family visited Disney World in celebration of his high school graduation. Buzz Lightyear was standing near the Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin attraction, and Saur said he was able to meet him.

“I told him, ‘Buzz Lightyear, you were my first toy,’ and he gave me a hug,” Saur said. “We struck poses together – my mother has pictures. It was the best thing in the world. I was like, ‘My life is complete.’ I was the happiest man alive.”



Freshman Michael Sprague said a different kind of action figure was his favorite toy. Transformers – the toys that are two toys in one – are hard not to like, Sprague said.

“You can have a car or a jet or a tank or whatever, and it can turn into a giant alien robot,” he said. “What’s not to like in that?”

Sprague said his favorite kind of Transformers were the Decepticons, but he enjoys collecting the toys that resemble the original characters in the Transformers TV show that began in the 1980s. How many Transformer toys has he collected?

“Too many,” Sprague said, “over a hundred.”



And Martin, a freshman, said he did create whatever he wanted.“It’s not set to one specific thing you have to do (with them),” senior Yoder said. “You can build them like the instructions say, of course, but there’s still that element of creativity inherent in the toy. It’s the idea that you can create whatever you want.”The toy that has never-ending options is Legos, according to students David Yoder and Cody Martin.

“I could build a house one day, tear it down and build a car the next day, tear it down and build a whole city out of Legos,” he said.

Yoder said that although the Star Wars and Bionicle Lego sets were his favorite, he would modify the sets he had to be able to make something different.

“I had tons of spare parts, so I’d go and change what I didn’t like about the set,” he said, “and that was one of the coolest things for me.”

Martin said building cars from Legos was his favorite aspect of the toy.

“I really liked to race them down the steps to see how durable they were, and then I would try to build them to make them stronger,” he said. “It didn’t really work because I was little and didn’t understand that Legos could only withstand so much torture before they just fell apart.”


American Girl Dolls

Phillips said she changed her doll’s name to something other than Molly and cut her doll’s hair to a shorter length so that her doll would be unique.Senior Gwen Phillips said her American Girl doll Molly was her favorite childhood toy.

“She didn’t look like any of the other American Girl dolls, and my mom made outfits for her,” Phillips said, “so she had her own kind of special little outfits. She was a different kind of doll than the Barbies or the baby dolls.”

Phillips said she also sewed decorations for her doll’s makeshift bedroom.

“Much to my mother’s chagrin, I cleared out everything on my nightstand and made it a bedroom for (my doll),” she said.

Phillips said much of her playing was left up to her imagination.

“When I played, I created stories,” Phillips said. “I sat there and had conversations with my doll and my sister’s doll. That’s how we played.”

Beanie Babies


Sophomore Lindsey Cymbalak said she cherished her bright orange Beanie Baby giraffe named Twigs. Although she had 20-30 other Beanie Babies – including bears, birds and kittens – Twigs was her only giraffe. Twigs was special because it was something Cymbalak had wanted, she said.

“I had seen it behind a glass display, and it was like my lifelong dream to have that giraffe,” she said. “I got it, and I was so happy.”


A Different Kind of Toy

For freshman Kristen Henck, the outdoors was her toy.

“My fun was digging holes and getting dirty and stuff like that,” she said. “God’s jungle gym is basically how I view it.”

She said being able to imagine things was what made the outdoors attractive to her.

“I used to pretend I was a prisoner of war, breaking out of prison camps and pretending I was like ‘Hogan’s Heroes,’” Henck said. “You can do whatever you want.”

Anna Dembowski is a sophomore journalism major and an arts & entertainment writer for Cedars. She likes nearly anything that is the color purple and enjoys spelling the word “agathokakological.”

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