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  • Early this summer Christina and I put on a yard sale. While searching in the basement for goodies to sell, I came across my old toys. Some were broken or poorly maintained after years of being kept in the basement. I was never one to "take care," of my toys in the collectible sense.

    I squeezed every drop of fun that I could out of them. My red Power Ranger action figure felt empty. I can recall the flips, punches, and bad guy butts that were kicked with that figure. He was very much alive back then. Now all I could see was a plastic toy that was still contorted in the fighting position I last used him (a sort of mid-air, flying kick). I found a few G.I. Joe action figures, too. The rubber bands holding the torso and lower extremities together had been all but worn away.

    After reminiscing for a while, I put together a box of toys to bring up to the yard sale. I didn't think any would really sell, especially my Micro Machine play sets. Half of them were either not functional or missing missiles and fuel silos. I put them on the table and figured a buck or two would be sufficient.

    They were placed along with some old Star Wars toys, an M&M candy dispenser, some animal figurines, and Game Cube video games. A hodgepodge of items, but I figure why not try to hit multiple audiences with a few pieces than one audience with mounds of items.

    We started early around 9:00 on a gorgeous Saturday morning. The sun was already starting to heat up the air. It was going to be a long day for sure. The first few visitors were professional pickers. A white van drove past and smirked at some of our prices. I could have cared less. Buyers arrived every now and then, but never at a consistent rate. We just say there and took whatever came our way.

    At one point a boy came over with his grandmother. He looked very excited about the toys. I hopped out of my seat and greeted them.

    "Do you have any questions?" I asked.

    The woman smiled, "No, he just likes yard sales."

    I laughed. For such a young kid to have an affinity for bargain hunting I found very amusing. He came upon a green army van and looked up at me.

    "What's this?" he inquired.

    The van he picked out was no ordinary van. It was Super Van City, one of the coolest toys I ever had. It was a Micro Machine play set (the very kind I didn't think would sell). The van opened up and flattened out into a sprawling army base, complete with helicopter pads, a mountain, bridges, buildings, and a river. It was one of my go-to toys for a long time. It was portable, durable, and perfect for an imaginative youth like myself.

    I proceeded to tell the boy all the cool things that Super Van City had to offer. His eyes nearly popped out of his head when I opened up the van for the first time. I always thought toys over the years would keep getting better and more advanced, but apparently that's not the case of Super Van City. It is truly one of a kind. The boy looked on in wonder. His eyes moving along the decals of dirt roads and tire tracks.

    "What do you use to play with it?" he asked.

    I should rephrase my earlier statement and say that I wasn't totally careless with all of my toys. There were a few collections that are still in pretty good condition. My basketball and baseball cards (mostly thanks to my older brother), my Headliner figurines, my Beanie Babies, and my Micro Machines. For those who have forgotten or do not know what a Micro Machine is they are miniaturized soldiers, cars, tanks, planes, submarines, and things of that sort. The sets they came with were small enough to carry around from place to place, but big enough for the Micro Machines to rove around.

    These toys that I kept in good shape were the very toys I was looking forward to showing my own children, and possibly their children. I had them tucked away from the yard sale where they wouldn't be disturbed. When I looked into the boy's face, I saw something that clicked inside of me.

    I told him, "Don't go anywhere. I'll be right back."

    I darted into the house and searched for the container. It was in the basement, chock-full of the very toys I told him about. I returned and unfurled the container (it was a Rolykit storage container). His mouth opened as each compartment unveiled a new surprise. All the tanks, planes, boats, and figures I played with were sitting there waiting. Waiting to be played with again.

    "How many can I have?" he asked.

    Looking at the excitement ready to leap out of his body, I answered, "As many as you can fit in your hands."

    He practically did a backflip. He dove right into the Rolykit and started plucking up the Micro Machines. I explained what certain pieces did, like a movable bridge that could drive to a "river," unfold, and let tanks and soldiers cross. He loved it. I showed him the soldier transports, WWII fighter planes, and enough good guys and bad guys to keep the war going forever.

    "I think his hands are growing," his Grandmother chuckled.

    I couldn't have been happier. Seeing someone share in the same fun I had when I was his age made me remember the days when I would hunker down on the carpet, open up my van, and let the madness ensue. I would play in the house, in the yard, in the car, at my grandmother's house, with my brother, with my cousins, with my friends, anywhere, and anytime.

    He packed up the van as his grandmother gave me the money. I don't remember how much it was, a few dollars perhaps. I knew that it would go a long, long way. They eventually returned later and purchased some more toys. He and his grandmother were very happy. Another boy later on bought some other Micro Machine sets and I gave him the same fist-full of toys discount. Another satisfied customer, and a pleasant trip down memory lane. When the sale was over, I started packing up the remaining items that my brother would take to the local thrift store.

    Why do we get so attached to our toys? Some of them are just a piece of mass produced plastic with some paint and stickers slapped on. There are the few hand crafted toys here and there, but even still, it's just a toy. Or is it? It's like rediscovering a piece of your former self. For the most part, we are totally different from the way we were back in those days. Physically, mentally, and spiritually. When I was a kid I didn't worry about school loans, employment, or starting a family. I lived in the moment. These toys are more than a tangible object. They are a glimpse at who we once were.

    Part of me still wishes I could sit down on the floor, throw around my toys, and worry only about the forces of evil that only me and my army could stop.

    It's nice to be reminded of where I came from.
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