Trains and Tracks

We all have them: toys we always will remember playing with from our early childhood. For myself, I remember quite a few, namely toys like Lincoln Logs, Legos, and of course the many video games made for the infamous Nintendo Gameboy (the Gameboy SP, to be specific in my case.) Another one of my favorite childhood toys was my train set, namely those from the train maker Brio (looking back on my trains now is when I finally was able to observe and pay attention to smaller details like the manufacturer; as a youngster, I had just wanted to build, tear down, and rebuild) which I still have sitting in a closet at home. I hadn’t pulled them out of their two boxes in a while, so I figured that they would make good subjects for photographing, not only from a technical perspective, but also because of the fact that I was due for a bit of nostalgia as a mid-to-late teenager. Below are my first series of photos on my childhood toys, which I thoroughly enjoyed photographing and intend to continue later on.

Why do we remember some toys so vibrantly? Maybe it’s because of the effects they have on us as children, the experiences we create with them. That’s why I think toys that I used to create things with (like trains) still have their images, sounds, and feel still lodged into the recesses of my mind. Growing up, I constantly played with my trains, and I still have all of the pieces I did when I was a lot younger. While not all picture here, there are quite a few that I remember playing with, building elaborate tracks around looping turns, over looming bridges, through mountainous jungle terrain, a modern metropolis, or the wild west. My sister also on occasion helped with construction, and we loved to run the trains around the track and imagine the little characters inside witnessing the grandeur of everything we had just created. For some reason, one piece really stuck with me, and that’s the one of the red bridge (a distant cousin, it seems, of San Francisco’s Golden Gate) pictured above.

Taking out the trains once again to photograph them, I have to say one thing – growing up doesn’t mean that I don’t need some time just to play with toys again. I don’t mean the modern definition of toys, which could be considered a game on my phone or a new lens for my camera (granted they are both fun as well, though.) I mean simple toys, those that force you to imagine, to dream, and to create. Building different layouts of train track was really fun – immensely, in fact – even at seventeen years old. It was also very interesting to notice some of the other aspects of my trains that I hadn’t noticed (or if I had, hadn’t been concerned with) earlier, ranging from all of the little minute details to something as prominent as the manufacturer, Brio.

I decided that Brio deserved a quick look-up to learn a bit more about them. I also just really wanted to look at some more trains. As it turns out, Brio’s from Sweden, and they still are very much in business. They have been since the late 1800s, according to their website, which proved to be a wealth of information about the company itself. Specializing in wooden toys, Brio doesn’t only make train tracks, but also makes a lot else as well, from toys for toddlers to the traditional wooden toys that get pulled along behind you with a string to a (very detailed) wooden stove. In my mind, however, Brio will also strike the memory of train tracks spread across the floor, which apparently also earned them a world record. Pretty cool. While perusing on their website, I also dug up the product pages of some of the pieces I have in my collection. If any are curious, they are still available for purchase, with some of my favorite including the Viaduct Bridge, the aforementioned Double Suspension Bridge, the Lifting Bridge, the Adventure Tunnel (though my version of it is green instead of grey), and the Collapsing Bridge.

For more about Brio, their website at www.brio.net is a wealth of information and where I got what I was talking about here. Also, as this is one of those formalities, all names, trademarks, etc. mentioned here are property of their respective owners.

That’s it for this initial series of photos, though there should be some more coming up soon. The next toy up on my photography roster: Lincoln Logs. Stay tuned!

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