American Girl Dolls and Game Cubes — Students talk childhood toys, nostalgia

Remember those toys from back in childhood? Toys such as Barbies, American Girl Dolls, Transformers and so many others.

They all seem so far off that they are a distant memory. Perhaps you still have these toys stashed away in a random closet or box downstairs. Perhaps you still have them on your dresser, standing there proud for all to see.

Wherever you keep your toys, there are some that might stand out among the rest as ones you or others around you played with the most. A poll was held on Facebook and Discord about what people’s favorite toys from their childhoods were, and the results were quite mixed. The most popular toys from respondents’ childhoods were Barbies and Game Boys.

According to the Mattel website, Barbies came to be because the founder saw her daughter playing with paper dolls and it sparked the idea. The founder’s name was Barbara and in 1959, the Barbie came to be named after her.

Game Boys were mentioned generally in the polls, with only one being specified as a Gameboy Pocket. This toy, a brick-shaped gaming device you could take anywhere, was released by Nintendo in 1996.

Oakland University students have their favorite games and toys from the 1990s and on.

Gabby Carr, a biomedical sciences major, grew up with a large collection of dolls, including Bratz, American Girl Dolls and Barbies. She said she remembers her entire closet being filled to the brim with American Girl Dolls and their accessories. Carr said there wasn’t very much room for clothes, since the space was taken up by the dolls.

She said one of her favorite memories was when she took her dolls over to a friend’s house to play with them.

“I had a best friend, and we would always pack up all of our doll stuff and take it to each other’s houses when we had sleepovers,” Carr said.  

Carr no longer has most of the dolls and their accessories, since she has given them away and passed them down.

Though some of these toys were just for fun, some toys indicated what majors students would eventually go into. Examples would be Lite-Brites, sketchbooks, science sets or toy models you could build for all to see.

Eddie Czarnecki, a biology major, grew up having scientific toy models of the eye and the heart. He said the models made “total sense now” because of his major. His favorite memories of the toys were getting them and learning all about them from encyclopedias and other sources.

Czarnecki still has the models, including a model heart that sits on his desk at his house. He said he remembers telling his parents about what he learned from the sets.

Matt Mercier, a Physics major, remembered playing Mario Party when he was a kid on GameCube most of the time. Since it was a four player game, Mercier could play with other kids on the block, share the game with them and enjoy the game and the console together.

The tradition of Mercier playing with his friends on the console has carried into today, whenever they have time off from school.

“Growing up, I have a lot of really good memories of having my neighbor friends come over,” Mercier said. “Even today, when we’re all home for spring break, we usually get down and play a game or two.”