From Trash to Toys

So this is my second article. It is one of imagination to older generations and inspiration to the younger. This topic may have been covered by many before me. Yet, this topic is still fresh with each new individual's perspective. So without any further delay…

Jason Netardus Presents,
From Trash to Toys: A Retrospective of an Imaginative Child.

(Okay so the intro was a little over the top, but hey! It sounded good in my head.)


As a child I grew up in a rural town on the north side of Houston, Texas. In a trailer park on a dirt road, I developed my creativity and imagination. While commercials created backdrops for toys that were virtual microcosms for the toys we were to purchase, we soon discovered that plastic trees, waterfalls, and plaster rocks were “not included”! What a bunch of suck…unless you used your imagination.

Styrofoam
The first piece of trash that I often used for toys was pieces of Styrofoam that secured appliances and large items for shipping. These pieces made awesome bases for G.I. Joes, Centurions, and other action figures of all sizes.

With a little imagination a white molded Styrofoam block became the base of operations for a G.I. Joe team to rescue the hostages on top of my clothes dresser. The best part about the Styrofoam was that it you could hold the pieces together with tooth picks. You could even break pieces off and stick them back to pretend that the base had been hit by a missile of projectile. At one point, my friend and I had collected so many pieces of Styrofoam that his mother made us throw them away, all six contractor bags full.

Scrap Wood
Now my buddy lived in a real neighborhood that was growing. Houses were going up all over the place, especially in the spring time.

This automatically created a playground for kids on the weekend. Walking the rafters, taking a couple centurions and having them fall to there death over and over again. The one thing we always brought along when we went to a house was the Radio flyer red wagon.

This wagon tied to our bike made an excellent trailer for taking home scrap cuts of wood. When we got home, we let our imaginations run wild. The only tools we were allowed to play with as kids were hammer and nails and a hand saw, so that's what we used. We would end up making wrestling rings for our M.U.S.C.L.E. figures, spaceships, forts and other stuff.

If we got lucky, we would find a uniquely cut piece of would that would get our imaginations going.

Aluminum Foil
Now I remember someone writing about using aluminum foil to create a costume as a child. I never did that so much. I do know that I went through so much Reynolds foil that I should have bought stock. What could I say except that is made the best super suits and instant armor?
I got this idea from the carbonite freezing chamber for the star wars toys. My brother had one when I was young, however, I was not allowed to play with it. Therefore, I had to make my own for my G.I. Joes. Eventually I realized that the foil could be molded to perfectly fitted armor. All of a sudden G.I. Joe and Cobra had to team up against the Metaloids, a rogue faction of cyborg humans that were invincible (unless you had a “special acid” that could eat through anything. Thanks goodness the Joes did.) This brought new adventures to all my action figures outside of storyline parameters. This brings me to my next imaginative tool…

Bed sheets and blankets.
What can I say? Blankets and sheets were the most versatile landscaping tool ever created. With one flip of the covers you could go from Hot Wheels racetrack to Batcave to active volcano.

Pull the bed away from the wall a little and set the covers right and the area under your bead has become a secret underground layer.

Growing up, I spent a lot of time playing in my bed room. I was often grounded for not cleaning my room and refusing to make my bed. However, If I made my bed, then I destroyed the underground “nucular” base (remember I am from Texas). That means the heroes would lose and the bad guys would eventually take over the world.


There were other items that we use to play with like pellet guns, fire, and other stuff. However, The items mentioned in the article really helped shaped my imagination and develop my problem solving skills that I now use as an adult. Hours upon hours were spent playing in my room. And now, as a father, I have a chance to teach my 6 yr old son how to be as imaginative as I was. If that means getting on the floor and playing with action figures, well then I guess I just will have to do it!!!!!