Gabriele Galimberti takes photos of kids with their most prized possessions for a series aptly named ‘Toy Stories’.
More common was how the toys reflected the world each child was born into: so the girl from an affluent Mumbai family loves Monopoly, because she likes the idea of building houses and hotels, while the boy from rural Mexico loves trucks, because he sees them rumbling through his village to the nearby sugar plantation every day.
Ultimately, the toys on display reveal the hopes and ambitions of the people who bought them in the first place. “Doing this, I learnt more about the parents than I did about the kids,” says Galimberti. There was the Latvian mother who drove a taxi for a living, and who showered her son with miniature cars; the Italian farmer whose daughter proudly displayed her plastic rakes, hoes and spades. Parents from the Middle East and Asia, he found, would push their children to be photographed even if they were initially nervous or upset, while South American parents were “really relaxed, and said I could do whatever I wanted as long as their child didn’t mind”.
With the exception of computer games, he noticed that toys haven’t really changed over the past three decades or so. And there is something reassuring about that. “I’d often find the kind of toys I used to have,” he says. “It was nice to go back to my childhood somehow.”
In thinking back to my own childhood toys, it strikes me how profoundly my toys and type of play still impact me as an adult. My toys — action figures, mostly, but also video games and LEGOs — were the vehicle I used for perfecting the art of storytelling. Play was nothing more than an elaborate form of telling epic stories. That, in turn, led to taking those stories out of my head to write on paper.
One of my biggest problems as a person is that I retreat inside my head too often to deal with problems, process difficult decisions, or generally work things over to a satisfactory conclusion. My childhood toys were, quite clearly now, a way for me to step outside of my own head. I’d wager there are people close to me that still wish I had action figures to intermediate for me when I start going down that rabbit hole. [via gruber]