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Sunday 31 August 2014

Traditional toys holding their own

Published 14/01/2014 | 05:38

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I was standing within earshot of a group of children at the races recently, as they discussed the presents they had received for Christmas.

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Most of the conversation centred around a DS, a Playstation, a LeapPad Ultra, a Tablet, a Wii and an Xbox, and though Santa brought one of the aforementioned to the young lad this Christmas, I longed to hear one of the group delight about receiving something that didn't entail hours of staring blankly into a screen.

In truth, there was only so long The Man in Red could get away with delivering toys that weren't computerised in some form, and once school began, well it wouldn't be fair if any kid was the odd one out because the parents couldn't let go of the past.

As if to read my mind from the tell-tale furrows on my brow, a young chap, no more than ten years old, appeared, and we started chatting. 'Did you have a nice Christmas?' I asked. He told me that he did and that Santa had brought him a spud gun. I could have been knocked over by the swish of a passing nag's tail.

'A spud gun,' I gasped, 'really?' 'Yes,' he chirped, obviously buoyed by this adult's unusual interest. 'I stick the nose of my gun in a potato, load up and then take shots at my sister, it's great craic.' As he spoke, my mind drifted back to the days when I had a spud gun of my own. I didn't even know they were still on the market, but it was enough to suggest that there may still a place for old-school toys in this world. I asked him if he had a cap gun too. And he looked baffled.

Later that evening, I sat down with the younger lad to do a jigsaw, though at all times he kept one eye on the LeapPad which was charging in the corner of the room. Meanwhile, the young lad was busy with his new Lego set. When I was a lad you were given a box of mismatched Lego pieces and told to make a house, which in my case usually ended up looking like a flat-roofed bus shelter in which someone might be forced to sleep after missing the last bus home. Nowadays kids have to follow the instructions to a letter, or their final product fails. Lego once sparked creativity, now, for many, it's viewed as the first step to a career in the construction industry.

But at least it's one of the traditional toys holding its own in these days of technological bombardment.

Old fogies like me have no choice but to roll with the times, and ensure the old and new strike a healthy balance.

New Ross Standard

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