Other people's toys

David Smith explores the eternal yearning for what other people have, especially when it comes to a Man From U.N.C.L.E. Briefcase.
Publish date:
Social count:

A Danny DeVito character once stated in a 1991 comedy that the only thing he loved more than money, was other people’s money.

There’s something undeniably alluring about what other people have got, and it holds true for toys as well.
You can have a whole room full of toys, and still, when you get the chance to root through some other kid’s stuff for the first time, you’ll be struck by all the great things they have.

There’s something peculiarly different about other people’s toys.

Your own collection is so familiar - you recognise all the products, all the scratches and scuffs on your toy cars, all the missing pieces.

Then you look at someone else’s toys and you’re not just captivated by the different items, you are also surprised at how different the things you have got look in someone else’s room.

It’s like stepping into a parallel dimension, a dimension where your UFO Interceptor hasn’t lost its torpedo (your own Interceptor lost its torpedo so long ago you’d actually forgotten what it looked like).

Your friend might have the same British Eighth Army soldiers as you, but his have been painted. Properly.

Strangely, this doesn’t make you want these superior toys. You love your Interceptor more because it’s lost its torpedo and has a great big scrape in its shiny green paint. It is familiar and comforting.

But those other toys, the ones you haven’t got, they really do call out.

My clearest recollection of this is seeing a Man From U.N.C.L.E. Briefcase at a friend’s house. It had a gun and holster, walkie-talkies and a mini camera, as well as an U.N.C.L.E. badge.

There was something so enticingly grown-up about this set that I wanted it immediately.

It seems that I’m often talking wistfully about toys I didn’t get, but I don’t think I’m an unusual case in this instance, because my two boys display exactly the same sort of symptoms when they come back from a play at a friend’s house.

While it is increasingly a case of them enjoying a go on a new video game or console, there is still room for a bit of traditional toy envy every now and then – and while I try to discourage endless requests for new stuff, in these cases I tend to just smile to myself.

Because I know exactly how they feel.


Play it again

David Smith comes down with a severe case of déjà vu when it comes to the latest playground craze to return to playgrounds: diabolo.

Moulders of men

David Smith commemorates some genuine giants in the world of one his favourite childhood playthings: toy soldiers.


Toy safety for dummies

Expert Jerry Burnie runs through the changes coming into force on July 20th and what you need to know about them

Featured Jobs

Vivid Job Logo 620 x 349

Digital Marketing Executive - Toys & Games

Vivid is Britain’s biggest toy company and the 20 largest in the world. With offices across the globe, they sell an amazing portfolio of toys and games to over 60 countries. Vivid is best known for its association with blockbuster brands and is very excited about future opportunities around the world.


UK Sales Agents

Liberty House Toys have been appointed as the exclusive UK distributor for the BiOBUDDi brand, and we are pleased to introduce this new unique, innovative and exciting range of 100% environmentally-friendly toy building blocks. We are seeking experienced sales agents with existing network in the toy retail market.

Gameplan Job Logo 620 x 349

Head of Product Development & Marketing

Our client is a privately owned French toy and games manufacturer which sells through distributors in forty countries. The company develops and sells innovative electronic interactive toys and games for the educational and gaming markets, and also takes suitable licenses. To progress its successful business development a Head of Product Development & Marketing is to to recruited.

HIT Entertainment Job Logo 620 x 349

Licensing Systems Administrator

The Contract System Coordinator is a newly created role to support the deal term entry process into Mattel’s new Contract Management System for its Licensing business. The role will support the Business Teams at the Deal & Amendment phase of the contracting process and act in conjunction with the System Administration team.