15 August 2013

Are Toys Us?

The other day I was having a tidy up and that meant a quick dust and re-positioning of my childhood toys.  Yes, I admit it, I still have a couple though to be fair one of them was a much later birthday present.  The oldest childhood toy I still possess is Woofles – and no, I haven’t a clue why it ended up with that name.  

Woofles was originally quite a smart terrier on red wheels with a red collar and I have memories of tottering along hanging on to the handle to push him along – obviously an early walking aid for me.  His most traumatic adventure was being left at the side of the road in error, after I had had an unpleasant queasy moment on our move from Surrey to Cheshire.  I seem to remember the car being sorted out along with myself, and then driving on only for me to start wailing about Woofles.  We returned and discovered not only Woofles, but my mother’s beloved portable typewriter had also been left behind.  In mitigation, my poor parents were trying to clean everything up in the dark.

My other toy is William, a rather battered bear which I received from my father on my 17th birthday.  Bizarre present for a 17 year old I know but I never had one when I was little and had always coveted one since I had spotted them in Hamley’s window (London posh toy shop) as a kid.  He has had many adventures over the years.  He has sat on drum kits at gigs, been made to impersonate the Bear Brand Bear and witnessed more things that a bear really ought to have done but has survived into his retirement in the sun.  The pair sit on a blanket chest, occasionally squashed by a cat, watching the world go by.

How William used to look when he was a stunt double

Here in Sintra we are lucky enough to have the wonderful Museu do Brinquedo (Toy Museum). www.museu-do-brinquedo.pt. (English button available). Open Tuesdays to Sundays (including Public Holidays except 1 January, 1 May and 25 December).  Closed Mondays. 

João Arbués Moreira created the Arbues Moreira Foundation and donated his personal collection of over 20,000 items (gathered over 50 years) and in 1989 the museum opened to the public. The original location quickly became too small so when the Sintra Fire Brigade Headquarters moved, the collection moved to its present site.  It is now rumoured that the museum has over 40,000 items in it.
Spanish Bugatti 1930

The collection is spread over three floors and the first floor has toys from the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC, the 19th & 20th centuries, from the Industrial Revolution. Also trains, boats, cars by Carrete, Lehman, Bing and others. Penny and novelty toys, circus characters, hand-made toys, games, books and space toys.

Hornby 1930

On the second floor there are cars by Citroën, Jep, Rossignol, Paya, Rico, Schucco, Gama, TCO, Dinky, Matchbox, Ingap, Burago, Polistil, Maestro and others.  Also motorcycles,  toy soldiers,  Portuguese toys,  plastic and celluloid toys,  pedal cars, tricycles, scooters and aircraft.

English lead figures 1940's

The third floor has the Doll’s attic and Restoration Room.

Portuguese china doll's set 1940's

French Tin Carousel 1890

Here are a few images of the collection as a taster.

Japanese space ship 1960's (long before Buzz Lightyear)

Portuguese bucket and spade 1940's - I love the shape of the spade

The Museum is an absolute joy to visit whether you are an adult (with an inner child) or a child plus you have the added bonus of exclamations of "Oh, I had one of those!" to "Wish I had kept mine" comments.  Modern children will marvel at how simple our toys used to be and how we looked after them and in those long off days, didn't howl on Christmas Day because there were no batteries - just a string to pull.