Today is my birthday. I’m officially in my late 30s, though I could probably cling on to my mid-30s for another year. When you get to this chapter in your life, gifts are great, but you could probably buy for yourself anything that you could reasonably expect to receive. I want the new Smash Bros for Switch when it comes out, so I’ll probably just buy it myself. As a kid, though, you don’t have that kind of luxury. If you wanted toys, you had to ask for them.

A grown-up had to get them for you.

Now, I don’t want to give the impression that I had a bad childhood. We had plenty of toys, and I grew up alongside the NES, SNES, and Nintendo 64. My grandparents would take me to arcade almost every week. I remember indulging in the carrot cake from the place next to Circuit Circus in Metrotown too.

I had a random assortment of action figures and LEGO bricks, many of which were hand-me-downs from my brother. Donatello would face off against Grimlock on a regular basis. But there are three toys that eluded me all those years. I never really asked for them, nor would my parents probably even know what they are. But looking back, yeah, I wanted them.

  • Lite-Brite: I can still hear the jingle in my head to this day. “Lite-Brite, Lite-Brite, turn on the magic of colored light.”
  • Magna Doodle: Maybe I’m just a victim of catchy TV ad jingles, because I can also hear the melodious “Magna Doodle” in my head.
  • Etch A Sketch: My cousin had one of these, so I’d always look forward to using it every time we visited. Eventually, it stopped working properly and I was totally bummed.

As I look at this list of classic toys, I can’t help but to notice a theme. I’d like to think I was a creative child, even if I wasn’t an especially talented one. All the way through school, I enjoyed doodling. Even during my university days, my class notes would inevitably have scribbly doodles in the margins.

Maybe I was inspired by all the comic strips I enjoyed, especially The Far Side by Gary Larson, Garfield by Jim Davis, and Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson. And while I’d like to think that I’m flexing some creative muscle with my writing, photography, and vlogging, I haven’t really explored any sort of sketching or drawing in a professional context.

Maybe I should.

Because I would have wanted that as a kid.