Utopia For Toy Lovers At The Springfield Museums

Jan 16, 2019

A traveling hands-on exhibit about the history of toys has arrived in western Massachusetts.

The Springfield Museums is hosting Toytopia.

It showcases many of the best-known – and best-selling -- toys and games of the 20th Century.

In addition to all the actual toys on display, there are some things that were not found in stores -- a life size dollhouse with a play area, a large Monopoly car and game board, and an 8-foot tall Etch-A-Sketch.

A retro-arcade area includes working games and there are videos of classic TV commercials pitching the classic toys.

There are explanations about the science that makes some toys work and the stories of how Slinky and Silly Putty, among others, were invented by accident.

Exhibits include hugely popular toys based on movies such as Star Wars, and Toy Story -- the movie series based on toys.  There is a walking piano of the kind that was popularized in the movie Big.

Kay Simpson, President and CEO of the Springfield Museums, said Toytopia should draw people of all ages.

"After they finish playing with all the exhibits, they can go into the rest of the museum and learn about the history of innovation in Springfield," said Simpson. "So, it is a win-win for the museums in terms of the story we are trying to tell."

Well represented in the exhibition are toys and games from Milton Bradley, the toy company that was founded in Springfield in the mid-1800s.

Children from Springfield’s Milton Bradley Elementary School took a field trip to the museum this week to be part of an event opening the toy exhibit.

Principal Kristen Hughes said the children, growing up in the digital age, had probably never seen many of the toys before.

"I think they can go home and have conversations with their parents about what they played with an it will spark those memories for the parents who played with some of these toys when they were kids," said Hughes.

The Wood Museum of Springfield History, which is hosting the Toytopia show, has many original Milton Bradley games on permanent display in an area that highlights the history of local manufacturers.

Toytopia is produced by Stage Nine Exhibition.

It is at the Springfield Museums through April 28, 2019.