Although we posted about the Spider-car back in 2011, we took some more photos of this awesome little toy to sell it on eBay. Mattel did a great job with these back in 1978, and many of them have held up well through the years. You can usually find one for about $20 in excellent condition.
Of the handful of our childhood toys we re-collected in the last few years, the Spider-car stands out in one amazing way. It was the only one that was still as much fun to play with as when we were little! As kids, we could get lost in epic storylines created for our toys. For example, plastic dinosaurs and Star Wars figures could have a war that lasted all day, only to team up when Godzilla showed up on their battlefield. Better call in GI Joe for back-up!
But despite a nostalgia for those immersive days of playing pretend, we just couldn’t get there again with our old toys. They seemed to lack the same magic. Spider-car, however, turned out to be just as much fun to “drive” all over the house, do spectacular aerial stunts, and generally forget for a few minutes this dreadfully serious business of being an adult.
This made us wonder if perhaps all the utterly ridiculous toys scattered around the houses of our child-rearing friends are not really there for the kids! How many fathers have bought the latest toy for their sons just so they could play with it too? Most working adults seem to have the means to buy most of the toys they could ever want. But, by the time you can do that, you may have also lost much of the child’s ability to get completely absorbed in play.
While we don’t plan on raising little Martians of our own anytime this century, the Spider-car did help us reconnect with that state of mind. These days, we simply find it takes different kinds of toys and activities to get there. We can get caught up in sketching, painting, doodling, and jamming on a guitar for hours where time just melts away. Instead of creating worlds with plastic dinosaurs, we can create universes on paper. Now, the Spider-car can’t take credit for all of that directly, but it did serve as a reminder: a reminder that as adults, we have the power to create a safe place for that inner kid that is still with us, and set him free to play at his leisure for a few hours.