Nothing like a nostalgia-flavored punch in the face on a fine Sunday morning. Remember these guys? Of course you do. You had them, I had them, and if you didn't have them, it means your parents didn't love you. In fact, they most likely had them when they were kids, too.
I realize the mainstream and mass-produced isn't really our steez around here, but fifty years is a pretty long time, and for a lot of us, Fisher-Price's Little People may be largely responsible for igniting that collector's fire we all share inside. There were so many varieties, and they were so fun to play with that if you had one, you probably had a box full.
They've come a long way in 50 years, being made first from wood, then plastic, then softer plastic, with today's versions now made mostly of suck and fail. We should count ourselves among the lucky in that we're old enough to remember them at their most awesome; back when imagination still won the day and these guys still doubled as effective projectiles to chuck at your sister when she got unruly.
Join me after the jump, and let's remember them together. No throwing.
Anybody else have this bad boy? It was one of the first Little People playsets I remember rolling around on the living room carpet with, and when Top Gun hit theaters, it made a reasonable substitute for an F-14 Tomcat. It also held enough Little People to make for some delightfully horrific plane crashes. Not quite as cool as an F-14, but hey, you could bring the dog along. More often than not, he was the goddamned pilot.
Since they'd been around so much longer than we had, there's a good chance you even got to play with some of the older ones as well. This mechanized death factory pictured above was a leftover from one of my babysitter's children, and unless I'm that botched in the head, I could swear that it played music when it turned.
Although, the more I think back about it, the more I realize that much of my playtime with this piece involved the Little People being flung violently out of the ferris wheel to their doom, so it's not altogether unlikely that the music was some manifestation of early childhood insanity.
Next up is the Circus Train. I seem to recall this one including some kind of rad little animals, but again -- the further I get into this post the more it becomes apparent that I may have been very disturbed as a child. Fun for the sane or otherwise, it was still a great little set, and made a neat train whistle sound when you pushed down on that yellow button on the engine. God help me, that part was real.
And there it is, ladies and gentlemen. The be-all, end-all, best damn playset in the history of ever. The Fisher-Price Little People Western Town playset. Look at that fucker. It's magnificent. It came with a stagecoach, and two horses whose necks bent down so you could make them drink out of a little trough in front of the saloon. I know it says "Hotel" over the door, but come on. My mom had enough westerns on the TV in the '80s for me to know that when you get a bunch of cowboys and indians together, somebody somewhere is boozin' it up.
Nowadays, parents like to attribute their children's lust for violence and mayhem to videogames. I'm sure if you were to ask my mother, she'd probably blame it on the Western Town playset. It had a little bar along the roof that was connected to a crank, and when you placed a few dudes up there and turned that crank, the bar would click and make a horrible racket like someone was shooting up the place, and the Little People would vibrate and bounce along the top of the roof. And it was open at the end so they'd invariably fall off to their deaths if you cranked it long enough.
The imagined carnage was glorious, and the only thing cooler was the trap door in the roof that opened up and let your Little People slide down to the first floor. Inexplicably, all of those Little People playsets had a trap door hidden somewhere, and to this day I still believe that there aren't enough trap doors in the real world. That's what reality needs about now. More trap doors. With slides.
Most of these photos are from Debbie Kay's Etsy shop, where you can score these toys, along with some other classic Little People favorites that you might remember from your own childhood. Me, I think I'll just keep them in my memory where they belong. The last thing I need is to open one of these up and find out that half the awesome stuff it did was all in my head, and that I might really be as crazy as this article makes me sound.
The rest of you, go for it. And while we're at it, what are some of your fondest memories of Fisher-Price's Little People? Which ones were your favorites? Why do they suck now? Was it just me, or did that damn dog come with everything?
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