Friday, November 24, 2006

Cold War Toys

I found these photos while surfing around the internet. I never really thought about the relationship between children's play things and cultural attitudes of the time period they were produced until I saw them. Of course like movies or TV shows or other popular cultural artifacts, it is not surprising that the concerns and worries of society make their way into what gets marketed to the youngest and most impressionable.

Given this understanding, what makes more sense during the Cold War years - as public fears about the development of atomic bombs sweeps the nation - than to sell kids Chutes Away a airplane toy that allows children to drop yellow plastic bombs into targets. What a great toy for Santa to leave under the Christmas Tree. The entire family can come back from Christmas mass and pretend to destroy the world. (As I reexamine the box - maybe the kids are dropping parachutes and not bombs. Although it doesn't make any sense to drop parachutes to people on the ground - what are they going to do with them? Maybe this is a Berlin Airlift type of game.)

Of course, should your family fail to annihilate communism through atomic bombing and the red hordes infiltrate the U.S. government, then you might need to purge American society of undesirable socialist influences. Apparently, Milton Bradley did not think that HUAC committee action figures would be a big seller, so instead kids in the fifties were provided with an example of how the French got rid of their trouble makers.

I wonder who is in charge of developing inappropriate historical toys for children? In the politically correct times we live in, should I worry about my local ToysRUs selling a Tar and Feather the Loyalists Goo Machine or a Rosenberg Espionage Easy-Bake Electric Chair. At least someone else thinks it is a real threat - since on there is a spoof commercial for Jihad Joe.

All joking aside, I do think "Cold War Era Children's Toys" is a cultural history project just waiting to be embraced.

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