What comes to mind when you hear the word “animal”? Do you envision farm animals, your pet at home, or something a bit more wild? Perhaps you even think of a Muppet or two. Either way, it’s hard to ignore that animals fulfill a pretty big role when it comes to play.
Autumn is upon us, replete with all things paranormal and pumpkin spice. Hollywood once again offers us an opportunity to be terrified for the cost of a movie ticket and large popcorn. Annabelle (2014) isn’t the first “playful” villain that has captured our collective attention: for a half a century, scary toys have come alive in books, on television, and on the big screen.
I met some naughty kids when I worked as a babysitter and camp counselor. But after five years with the National Museum of Play at The Strong, I’ve observed enough children to know the good ones far outnumber the brats and that misbehavior, when it occurs, isn’t limited to one gender. So why do little boys get a bad rap? Look at the way cartoonists have portrayed them over the years. If I may paraphrase a line from Jessica Rabbit: the kids aren’t bad—they’re just drawn that way.
It doesn’t take much detective work to discover that many people enjoy mysteries. For example, I can vividly remember being enthralled when I first read Agatha Christie’s novel And Then There Were None. I know I’m joined by millions who eagerly follow the crime-solving exploits of Christie’s hero, the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot.
Though Bond girls and seductive villainesses have been the most memorable women of the spy genre since Dr. No premiered to American audiences in 1963, not all ladies have found themselves relegated to supporting roles. Surely female characters engaged in espionage have James Bond to thank for sparking the 1960s spy trend and the fantastic toys it generated.
Spring has brought the annual influx of chocolate bunnies into my supermarket. And April’s sunnier days with longer daylight have sent my neighborhood’s rabbits onto a quest for sprouting greenery to munch. With hares seemingly everywhere, I’ve also started noticing all the rabbits in The Strong’s collection.
Cinderella has a long history of influencing popular culture and playthings. You might even say that she’s left a big footprint. The popular princess and her glass slipper came to my attention recently as I read an article about the upcoming Broadway revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical Cinderella. The article focused on the creation of glass slippers—actually polyvinyl-chloride pumps bedecked with 10,000 Swarovski crystals—for the show.