Trendmasters Starcastles & Vintage Polly Pocket
I was recently buying a present for my niece, and so I went into a toy store. I was surprised at what I saw. While there were some scooters and bikes in the back corner, the majority of the stuff they were peddling was video games, and I could see barely any toys I recognised from my own childhood. Barbie was still there, but she was hardly recognisable in her barely there skirt. Next to her were other brands of dolls, all sluttier than the next. I could hardly distinguish between them all, because they all had the same features. Big boobs, heavy layers of makeup, skimpy clothes and waists so thin they were in danger of disappearing.
An online bio of one of the Bratz dolls (on the official Bratz website) described Cloe (not a typo, that's how you spell it) as "flirty" and told of her love of "Beauty products and glittering make-up". Cloe is not the kind of role model I want for my six year old niece. I walked out of the shop empty-handed.
But I couldn't stop thinking about it. Everywhere, little girls are playing with similar dolls. Right from the very beginning, they are receiving unrealistic messages of what they are supposed to look like and dress like. I frequently walk past a primary school near my house, and one day the children were wearing casual clothes. I was astonished at what I saw. All the little girls, right down to the little preps, had taken fashion advice from their dolls. There were short shorts and skirts everywhere, and I saw two girls wearing high-heeled shoes.. They were also wearing make-up. It wasn't well put on. Most of them seemed to have done it themselves with a shaky hand. But it was still there.
While looking closer, I did see some girls wearing clothes of a decent length and style. But these were the minority, and the injustice is that even if their parents have the presence of mind to not let them play with the terrible dolls, they still learn the stuff at school from the other girls.
Anyway, I've gone off-track. Talking about the terrible lessons the new dolls are teaching our youth was not meant to be the point of this article.
I wish to talk about my favourite childhood toy: Starcastles. One of these brilliant toys is what I wanted to buy my niece, but unfortunately they don't seem to make them anymore. A starcastle is a plastic castle filled with brightly coloured rooms, hidden nooks and crannies, and many things that open and close. One of mine from when I was little included a library, with a secret room hidden behind the book case. Whenever assassins would come in the house, my royal family would hide in there.
My parents would be a little surprised when I told them what was happening in the game, but that was the brilliant thing about starcastles! They encouraged imagination. All the figurines were different in their age. Some were pretty, some ugly. They had different fashion styles. Even though all my friends had the same sets as me, none of us had the same game play experience. All of us imagined different things.
Starcastles fostered my understanding of money. I created a currency of marbles for my little people, and gave them all jobs. A friend of mine made one of hers a marriage counsellor, who would help Aladdin & Jasmine, Cinderella & Prince Charming and Sleeping Beauty & Prince Charming work out their issues.
Star Castles TV Commercial
In 2002 Trendmasters were bought out by another company, which made a couple of Disney Castles.
To your left is one of my numerous Bluebird vintage Polly Pocket toys. This one says it was released in 1993. These Polly Pocket toys are not starcastles, but if you are as fascinated as I by the idea of creating a miniature world of which you rule everything, you may need to incorporate these into it, because they seem a lot easier to find than Trendmasters Starcastles. Below is a Jasmine and Aladdin Castle also made by Bluebird.
Star castle toy