Like most kids, I had an almost insatiable appetite for toys as a little girl. I have clear memories of our spare room, which doubled as a playroom for me and my sister – completely carpeted with scattered toys. We weren’t hung up on having the newest and shiniest toys, but there was definitely no such thing as too many.
My favourite, however, was an action figure of my childhood heroine: She-Ra, Princess of Power. Both my sister and I had a figure – mine had a broken hand so she couldn’t hold her sword properly, had lost her skirt and cloak, and rather than the sleek blonde hair she had in the series, her hair better resembled Nicky from Orange is the New Black.
None of that mattered to me though. I remember that I once swapped dolls with my sister, whose doll was in much better condition. I almost instantly got buyers remorse and forced her to trade back.
I was nowhere near as attached to most of my toys as I was She-Ra. Perhaps my mum knew that, which was why she used to take me and my sister to the toy library nearby.
A toy library is basically exactly what it sounds like; you could borrow toys for about a week, I think, and then return to swap for another toy. My sister and I, understandably, loved visiting the library. It was in a huge, grand (well, grand looking to tiny me anyway) house in a local park, so just entering the building felt special.
You might have guessed that I was prone to becoming emotionally attached to my toys, no matter how broken or used they were. So it’s probably not a surprise to learn that I became attached to one toy in particular and basically checked that toy out of the library every week.
The toy in question was also part of the She-Ra universe – what a surprise – but it was She-Ra’s arch nemesis Catra’s winged horse. I don’t recall Catra having a pegasus in the series, but hey, why let that little detail stop merchandising? I clearly didn’t care, and who can blame me? It was a flying horse! And she was a pearlescent colour, which mesmerized me a little.
Despite my thorough disregard for the basic tenant of libraries – that you borrow things for a short amount of time and then try something new, and not horde the same thing week after week – I still think toy libraries are a great idea. The one I used to go to has long since closed, but there are still plenty around: you can find out more at the USA Toy Library Association or if you’re in the UK, there’s Play Matters (formerly the National Association of Toy and Leisure Libraries).
I think most kids would appreciate getting a new toy every week, even if it’s not brand new to them. It probably teaches something about sharing, or how you don’t need own things to be happy.
Except of course when there’s a pegasus. That baby is mine.
Girl Museum Inc.