Although I posted about the Spider-car back in 2011, I took more photos of this awesome little toy to sell it on eBay. Mattel did a great job with these 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 my childhood toys I 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 I was little! As a kid, I got lost in epic storylines created for my 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, I just couldn’t get there again with my 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 the dreadfully serious business of being an adult.
This made me wonder if perhaps all the utterly ridiculous toys scattered around the houses of my child-rearing friends are 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 I don’t plan on raising little Martians of my own, the Spider-car did help me reconnect with that playful state of mind. These days, I simply find it takes different kinds of toys and activities to get there. I 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, I 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 within us, and set him free to play at his leisure for a few hours.