Clumsiness in my study the other day saw a number of things rolling from my bookcase and landing on my head. Among them, this Mazda RX500 and Citroen CX Familiale. I held them aloft for close inspection, and suddenly realised that I had done exactly the same thing thirty years ago. In fact, that was pretty much my favourite thing to do.
“Top Gear” was my favourite game to play when alone with a collection of toy cars, but it didn’t involve powerslides, lap times or getting into ‘hilarious’ scrapes. No. It entailed my laying on the floor, looking at the cars close up as if recreating an endless variety of camera angles. Occasionally I’d do tracking shots, moving my eye past the car and blinking slowly to fade between scenes. I’d do my own commentaries, too, of course.
There were times that I participated in group play sessions with other kids, and that didn’t always go well
In the grounds of my primary school there was a turfed mound of excavated soil from the school’s construction in the late ’60s. Imaginatively, we called it The Mound. Over the years it had eroded under the combined forces of wind, rain and playful feet, and sandy channels had formed in its surface. The topography of these channels, if you had a vivid imagination, looked rather like mountain roads.
For a spell in the late ’90s, I remember that my favourite car to play with on The Mound was a yellow Majorette Honda Accord. I knew a bit about the Accord, and assumed mine to be the plush EX model. As part of my play I would make the sounds associated with using its electric windows, and would frequently take advantage of its cruise control.
As long as common sense prevailed among junior motorists, I was perfectly happy for others to join me. I would even lend my cars out, but not the Accord, oh, God no. But when a kid turned up with a random black coupe and proclaimed himself to be Knight Rider, and went on to use Turbo Boost, he’d need to find somewhere else to play. I demanded a certain degree of realism. Woe betide you if you turn up with a 1:43 and try to enter my (approximately) 1:60 world.
So, I was a strange kid. Maybe I was doing it wrong. But is there any official, standard way of playing with toy cars?
Did you do things differently?
(Images: Chris Haining / Hooniverse)