Soviet Union: Commie toys for commie kids

Soviet Union in the 1970s. 

A boy was born into a family so poor that were he not a boy he’d have nothing to play with. 

No. I won’t smear my Soviet past with unnecessary exaggerations.

I was OK.

I had a teddy bear. The teddy bear had me. It was probably a female bear, because I don’t remember it having any parts that would indicate otherwise. We could sleep together, hugging each other, and stay friends. Adults fail at it. Not, of course, at sleeping with friends, but staying friends after wake-up.

I had the most effective army in the world that sat under my bed. The fact that I’d never been troubled by monsters during my childhood is the hard proof of its strength. It is thanks to them you can read this blog today.


When I progressed to the age at which parents expect their sons to show a glimpse of genius hidden inside, I got a construction kit similar to this:


This was the kind of toy that was meant to prepare a kid to live in a Developed Socialist society. Screws never matched the holes. A few crucially important parts would be missing. A genius, perhaps, could assemble a car as shown in the accompanying booklet. I had a friend who – by the age of 16 – had it more or less assembled. He had to go to the factory to beg and steal the missing bits. A less dedicated kid (like me) with no engineering genius inside would stop at a stage when the car looked right but couldn’t move or moved right, but didn’t look like a car at all.

At the age of now-be-a-responsibile-kid, that is, when parents want you to start managing your time properly (meaning spending 95% of it on ‘studies’), I got a car simulator!

The round table at the top was rotating, the small car was moving and it was a perfect illusion of driving, albeit through a slightly repetitive landscape.

I was meant to spend 5% of my time “playing” it and then go back to my studies.

Ha! It was 95% vs.5% no problem, but guess which activity was responsible for the 95%.

But it was a Soviet toy, so it broke within days. I could go back to my studies, which, ultimately, made me a guy smart enough to launch this blog.

Thank you, the Soviet toy industry for producing difficult-to-play toys, so that boys could move on to higher mathematics, building rockets, quantum physics, and, occasionally, ballet dancing – unhindered by all those gaming distractions.

I am sorry for taking a day post off the art theme. But I am grateful to the Daily Prompt that suggested talking about character-forming toys, because I suddenly understood why surrealism had never spoken to me, never touched me.

I’ve spent all my childhood surrounded by surrealistic toys. You need something more bizarre than Dali to impress a boy from the Soviet Union. 


Dali? Ha.


  1. You want surreal?
    In Bulgaria, in the 60’s I had exactly the same doll in red. It was called Nevelyashka… I imagine it’s a brand name, a proletarian version of Barbie perhaps. If with a yellow one you can get away with insensitivity, with a red one I should get away with murder… The surreal part is not me having the doll, but the occurrence of this conversation in 2013, somewhere in cyberspace.
    The joys toys bring!

    1. Nevalyashka ) When you tried to put it on its side it would straighten up, showing the unbendable spirit of a doll from the Socialist camp ))) Yes, having these memories SHARED in 2013 is a bit surreal, have to admit it!

It would be grand to hear from you now!

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