Author: Eric Schneider | Page Count: 192
‘It makes me see angels, drifting through space, touching the stars and bringing the light. Just with one finger.’
You can’t put a price on the warm, fuzzy feeling that accompanies nostalgia. It’s like an all-singing, all-dancing ferret has crawled inside you (a supernatural ferret, let’s be clear on that), but in publishing you can put a price on a picture book designed to encapsulate and encourage the ferret. In the case of Toy Instruments it's an extortionate one. RRP is £13.95 for a 16.5 x 16.5 cm HB book with content that’s ninety-nine percent pictures. I paid 99p in a clearance sale, but for what it’s worth I sincerely hope Eric Schneider still gets his percentage.
As the titles suggests, its focus is instruments from a bygone era that were targeted at children. If you had a toy that went plink-plink, peep-peep and maybe even ting-ting then you might find it displayed within the thick, quality pages. I got lucky at the starting gate, having owned a little wooden piano like the one featured; it was the same colour and even had scuff marks in the same places!
The items aren't the only attraction. Often they pale when next to the treasure for the eyes that is box art. Many of the products are from China and Japan and even back then their box art was the best! But was it really necessary to crop the pictures to fit the square format? Wouldn't it have been better to show, oh, I don’t know, the entire box that each toy came in? A crazy idea, huh?
The change from a traditional wooden styling to bulky electronic to branded plastic tat that made you sound like a voice from beyond the grave or Optimus Prime's weaker brother with a robotic bronchial infection offers a fascinating glimpse into the attitudes of toy makers in each distinctive era.
Brief captions below images give the manufacturer’s name, the item’s full name, date of release and country of origin where known, but some of the text is difficult to read being white on 70s gray, orange and pink backgrounds.
It's not something that many people will reread, but like I said at the beginning it warms the cockles, so it has merit outside of its presentation and those feelings may well encourage some folks to at least revisit its charms from time to time.
2½ battery powered sonic strings out of 5