April 17, 2021

Did you have a sandbox to play in as a kid? Other than building sand castles and such, what did you do in there? I loved to play with my army men in imaginated warfare. Mostly though, I played with toy cars and trucks. Before I get into that, let me take a moment to describe how special my sandbox was to me.

My dad acquired an old rubber track shroud from an M113 troop carrier at a nearby Army Depot where he worked. This was a very sturdy piece of rubber to say the least. He drilled some holes in the ends to bolt them together with some sturdy brackets. Then he dug a circular trench about two inches deep, feeding the rubber shroud into it, and filling it back in before bolting it together. The sand he filled it with was from a local quarry. Dad frequented there often and they'd let him shovel as much sand as he could into the bed of his pickup truck for free, given his word he wasn't selling it. It was wonderful white sand! This do-it-yourself sandbox was my favorite backyard play area for hours on end in my childhood.

I had lots of Matchbox and Hotwheels cars. My friends and I would spend hours playing with them anywhere we could. When I got the sandbox, we were a little sad that not all the cars could drive on the sand, no matter how hard we packed the roads down. Eventually we ended up getting these types of trucks to play with. These worked great and were much fun! Then everything changed.

The year was 1986. I was eight or nine years old. The location was McDonald's. I had outgrown Happy Meals for some time at this point. But when we entered the store there was something amazing that caught my eye. The new toys that were inside the Happy Meals were offroad vehicles! They were small plastic pickups, jeeps, vans, and SUVs. It gets better. They were made by STOMPER! If you're not familiar with this brand, check out this old commercial. I think this was in 1980 when they were introduced.

I'm not sure how many different toys there were. I know my friends and I were fiends for them, and traded them and for them. They were the new kings of the sandbox. Nothing replaced them. We'd build a big slope with a ramp at the end, and let gravity pull the epic toy to it's airborne glory. Wouldn't you know it, I still have some to this very day.

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