torachan: (Default)
We were over at my mom's for her birthday yesterday and for some reason got on the subject of this toy I used to have based on the Richard Scarry Busytown books, called Puzzletown.

Did any of you guys have these sets? I loved them so much and played with them long beyond the recommended 3-8 age range. You can see in the eBay auctions that they had plastic grid panels on which you could build various buildings with the heavy cardboard pieces.

As a kid, building toys were my absolute favorites. Lincoln Logs, Tinkertoy, Legos... I had only a very few Legos of my own because they were pretty expensive, but my aunt (the cool aunt), who is only eleven years older than me, had several of the large Lego sets (including one that still had the old figures before they introduced the minifigs) and I used to play with them over at my grandparents' house all the time. I also had this really cool toy called Marble Works, where you make tracks for marbles to go down. It was really fun. I also loved to play with the Playmobil castle my best friend's brother had (something like this one).

Oh, and another building toy I got to play with at my grandparents' was my uncle's Matchbox cars. My great grandmother worked in the Mattel factory, so my uncle had a huge Matchbox collection, including tons of racetrack. I had a handful of Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars of my own, but we could never afford a big racetrack set. I did like running the cars through the track once it was set up, but the real fun part was setting up the tracks all over the guest bedroom at my grandparents'.

K'nex were past my time, but a couple of kids I babysat when I was in college had some really neat ones, including a big ferris wheel and, IIRC, a roller coaster.

Anyway, Puzzletown looks pretty simple, but I loved to put it together over and over in different ways...and the same way, to be honest. The fun was not just in putting things together differently, but just in putting them together, period. (I mean, one of my favorite things to do as a kid was to take my plastic Disney figures from the jar I kept them in and sort them by type (Mickeys, Donalds, etc.) and then line them up. Over and over and over again.)

I had two Puzzletown sets, the Mayor Fox Town Center and the Dr Lion's Medical Center. On the side of the box it advertised the other sets, including a farm and best of all a TRAIN SET, but for some reason Puzzletown was pretty rare even at the time, so my mom was never able to find more than the two sets she had bought me.

I don't know what happened to the sets I had. I don't remember ever selling them at a garage sale (when I was a kid/teen I often sold my older toys at garage sales in order to make money to buy something new, which sadly means I do not have, as an adult, any of the vintage toys that might earn me cash on eBay), so they must have been given away to someone. I really wish I had them again, even just for a short time. Looking at pics on eBay is not quite the same.

Semi-related, I love the kids on the Puzzletown boxes. Notice how there are both boys and girls playing with this very gender-neutral toy. It reminds me of this '80s Lego ad on Sociological Images. It's not that there weren't some toys that were specifically gendered back then, of course dolls were for girls, etc. But it wasn't as intense and all-encompasing the way it is today. Girls were part of the intended audience for Legos, and not just some pink and purple special Legos that you could use to make "girl things".

Anyway! So did you love building toys? If so, were you the type to build and then play with them (like make up stories, push cars around, etc. whatever kids are "supposed" to do with them) or was the fun in the building/taking apart? Did you like to sort and line up toys? (I did this with all my toys, but the Disney characters were my special "go to" ones.)


Apr. 27th, 2010 12:28 am
torachan: (Default)
[personal profile] dragovianknight mentioned having a Strawberry Julius and wow, did that ever take me back! I had no idea Orange Julius was even still around, but apparently they were bought (in the '80s!) by Dairy Queen (which is strange, since Orange Julius is an LA company and we didn't have Dairy Queen in LA until the late '90s, maybe even early '00s).

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Orange Julius is Fisherman's Village in the marina. For ages there was an Orange Julius in the lighthouse there and I remember going there once with my aunt Amy (the cool aunt) when I was little. A few years later when I was nine/ten-ish, my friend Annie and I would ride our bikes from her house in Playa del Rey down to the beach and then along the bike path to the marina (about a 2.5 mile ride). We would spend the afternoon hanging out at the arcade there, having pizza at the Wildflower (omnomnom whole-wheat-crust pizza), and maybe if we had money left, getting ice cream at the cool little independent ice cream place, a hunk of mint chocolate bark at the candy shop, or an Orange Julius before heading back.

I was never a huge fan of Orange Julius, and I think I probably ended up getting candy or ice cream more often than not, but it is really firmly tied in my mind to that time, to those weekends when my mom would drive me and my bike over to Annie's on a Friday night (she used to be my nextdoor neighbor, but moved to Playa del Rey when I was eight or nine) and I would spend the night and spend all Saturday out riding, exploring, maybe going swimming or boogie-boarding if it was summer.

That's me on the right, age nine or so.


May. 22nd, 2009 02:06 pm
torachan: (Default)
Hey, this is fun. [personal profile] telophase had a post up asking for people's earliest memories, so I thought I'd c&p my answer here and ask all of you.

My first memory (or at least the first that I can place for sure on a timeline) is of my uncle. He had muscular dystrophy and died when he was nineteen and I was about two. I have one memory of being at my grandparents' house and seeing him get out of the wheelchair-accessible van they had.

I have a couple memories of the Christmas I was two and a half (and I know the first memory comes before this, because my uncle was already dead by that Christmas). We were over at my great-aunt's house and one memory is of me and my teenaged aunt and cousin playing with a box of toys on the floor in the hallway.

The second memory is later in the day after we'd unwrapped presents. I got two sets of Colorforms. They were large sets, both shaped like a two-story house. One was Holly Hobby and one (which was my favorite for years) was a Disney haunted house with Mickey and all the other Disney characters. I was playing with that one in my great-uncle's office for a while (there's actually a picture of me) and then I moved out to play with it on the brick steps going from his office to the den and a piece slipped through a crack in the bricks. I was devastated, which is probably why it stuck in my head so vividly.

Another memory which I think is from that Christmas is of a man coming door to door to take photos. He took a picture of me holding a teddy bear and sitting in my little rocking chair in front of the Christmas tree.

I have quite a lot of memories when I was two and three, so it becomes pretty hard to sort out after that. I do remember one time when I was playing in the front yard and saw my dad pull into the driveway and run over my little ride-on toy. I must have been pretty little if it was a ride-on toy and not a tricycle or Big Wheels.

So what are some of the earliest things you can remember?
torachan: (Default)
Hey, it's that interview meme again. Comment and let me know if you want me to ask you five questions.

Here are five from [ profile] painless_j: Click! )


We went to Mitsuwa yesterday and I went in the bookstore just to check if there was a new Nana out yet. I did not mean to buy anything else!

But...I did. ;_; There was no new Nana, but I did see a new Ppoi! It's been *checks Amazon* damn, three and a half years since the last volume! I'm glad she's finally back to it. So then since I was already for sure buying one book, I looked around a bit more. Saw they had Fruits Basket 23, and I figured why not. I really want to read the last volume and finish the series, but I've been waiting forever for it at the used store and they never ever have it, so... Then I saw there was a new 7 Seeds, which is like my current favorite manga by a long shot, so I had to get that.

Then I saw a manga that I had to get just for the cover. It's made to look like an old book, with wear on the edges and everything. It's called The Black Museum Springald and is by Fujita Kazuhiro, the author of Ushio to Tora, which is probably not a series familiar to many anymore, but it was one of the few anime released in the US back in the early '90s.

Anyway, not only does this have an awesomely cool cover, but it's set in Victorian England and based on the legend of Spring Heeled Jack. It's only a stand-alone, unfortunately, but it looks pretty cool. I'm looking forward to reading it.


I'm working on my plans for [ profile] 14valentines. Still not sure exactly how many recs I want to aim for per day. I guess it will partly be determined by how many fics I can read between now and then. XD I have a whopping nine recs set aside so far, from the past few weeks of reading. I am going to have to not read anything but potential [ profile] 14valentines recs from now on, though.

I also decided I would compile a list of all the female-centric fics I'd recced in the past, and I got that together today and it ended up being enough for three posts, and I have a fic I want to finish writing for one day, and I hope to get my master list of transfic finished for another day, so that means I only need nine days worth of new recs. Still a lot, but more manageable.


[ profile] theninth mentioned that [ profile] bironic does a "memory fest" where they post a memory each day in January. I really like that idea, so I'm going to snag it and try to post a memory of mine each day for the rest of the month.

1. Cinco de Mayo )


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