When Stuart and I saw Toy Story 3, I remembered one of our more delightful experiences while in Prague last year–a trip to the Toy Museum at the base of the huge castle in Prague, Czech Republic.

Exhibit in Toy Museum, Prague, Czech Republic

At the time we visited, the museum displayed an amazing collection of Barbie dolls in honor of her 50th anniversary.

Barbie's 50th anniversary exhibit

Lanie Tankard, in her essay on touchstones published here, said,”The adult is always searching for the child still within, as well as reminders that the person’s own adult children were actually smaller at one time.”

Toy Story 3 overflows with touchstones, or “luminous particulars” that will take you back to your own childhood or to your time of parenting young children, or both. It also evokes deep, universal themes of love v. fear, home v. homelessness, belonging and separation. The animation is so good, you will forget you are watching animation.

Click on the link in the paragraph above for a series of movie trailers that will give you a partial glimpse of these touchstones. Toys in general are great carriers of childhood memory–especially classic toys, like the telephone on a string (I remember this one from my little sister’s toybox as well as our own) to toys of a given era such as astronauts or robots. They carry first impressions of love, which, like all first experiences, go deep into the psyche.

If you have not yet seen this movie, I urge you to go. If you have some kids handy–your own, your neighbor’s, your grandchild, your nephew or neice, take them with you. If you have already seen the movie (or Toy Story I, or II), please tell us your thoughts! What nostalgia floodgates did the film open for you? What insight did you gain? Do you think you could construct a memoir on toys alone?

Shirley Showalter


  1. Gutsywriter on August 3, 2010 at 3:42 am

    I wish I had seen this movie with my son Jordan, but now I can go alone, although I shall probably cry. Thanks again for this post. I have a friend in England, who wanted to make it to the Guinness Book of World Records, with her collection of teddy bears. Over 1,200 I think. She just gave 600 away to an orphanage in Romania.

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