Updated: Sep 30, 2020
One of the cool things about being in marketing and media production is I can still be a kid. Unlike other adults, who haven't doodled in a notebook since they were in high school, my career choice requires me to look at the world through child-like eyes. I'm constantly drawing, creating weird stories, humming stupid songs, and building things. The funny thing is when I was a kid I didn't realize playtime would be such an influence on my adulthood. Here is a list of toys that got me started on an interesting life-path.
Oh what a mess I would make as a preschooler! This was one of the first toys I recall begging my mom for. When I saw it at the Pamida in Crete, Nebraska, I realized finger paint could be enjoyed at home too. Imagine touching, feeling, smelling, and yes tasting color! While I don't use all my senses when it comes to using color now, I still get a thrill out of using certain colors and have memorized the RGB color model numbers for many..my favorite?
Yellow! (255, 255, 0)
Son of Big Chief Notebook
Combined with a #1 pencil, then later a #2 pencil. I drew airplanes, robots, missiles, stick men, buildings, trees, rivers, the worlds I created took me away from the classroom. Sadly I'd be transported back and placed in a corner by my teacher.
G.I. Joe Action Figures
Very few children can recall the very day a favorite toy changed their life; I do-July 28, 1982. By chance upon returning home from getting my first G.I. Joe action figure at Wal-mart in Monett, Missouri my mother turned on the 6 o'clock news and learned Christian recording artist Keith Green and two of his children died in a plane crash. For the rest of the evening Mom listened to the radio as they featured a night of Keith's music as I played with my new toy. Looking back, I believe this was my first exposure to the military and when I enlisted in the Army years later I chose to be a radio operator just like Breaker, my first G.I. Joe.
Truthfully, I got this toy before my action figure but never played with it until later. Breaker needed a fort and a satellite tower. Unlike Lincoln logs that had planks and walls, Tinkertoys required a little bit of abstract thinking. I did have Golden books that became quite handy for floors and a roof. To this day I'm always "Mikegyvering" solutions to unexpected problems with available materials.
Radio Shack Electronic Set
My Graddad bought me this toy "just because". In addition to teaching me how read directions, and keep track of little wires, this kit got me use to electrical components like resisters, diodes, and the basics of troubleshooting when something didn't work. I still use these skills.
Sinclair ZX81 Computer
A few months later my granddad lent me his old computer, a Sinclair ZX81. While it wasn't high-tech, like a computer Breaker would use, it was a good start in learning how to code when used in conjunction with a game book Grandad also gave me. Like the electronics kit, coding was time consuming. In all honesty, I did only games that required 30 lines of code. Later, Grandad told me this system could record the programs on a cassette recorder for later playback. Coding basic language lead me to understand html and Java code for websites and create commands for a Windows operating system that can enable it to automatically reboot when the power goes off and comes back on.
Sony Cassette Recorder
In hindsight, with the geeky skills I have now I can easily build an AM transmitter and receiver with two electronic kits then attach the audio out on one ZX81 to the AM transmitter and attach the audio in on another ZX81 to the AM receiver thereby creating a basic "internet" system where I can send games or messages from one computer to another wirelessly. Whew!...Yeah I'm a big nerd! Unfortunately in 4th grade I made goofy radio programs on a cassette recorder I got for Christmas. By 8th grade I figured out attaching the tape recorder to the electronic kit and broadcasting music to a nearby radio. I then created a prerecorded program with numerous songs (to include Keith Green) and played it. While my sister was quickly annoyed I hijacked the music she was listening to on her radio, a disc jockey/broadcaster was born!
Every kid in the 80's had Legos but few had the Technic series. Like the kid on the box, when I work on a project I'm focused. I'm pondering every detail. Every piece and every gear has a purpose. Like the Lego kit, every project has it's limitations. From a client who has a set budget to a location doesn't have enough power outlets, the challenge is to figure out how to build the machine with the parts available.
Before drone photography became the standard for aerial photography you pretty much needed a helicopter, an airplane, or, if you were on a really tight budget, a model rocket. While I didn't have one of these I started building rockets in 8th grade. Like everything else, I took it to a whole nutha level. I reverse engineered a cheap kit I got a variety store in Monett Missiouri and discovered I could make rockets out of paper towel and toilet paper rolls. I attached lights and experimented with modified wings that made the rocket flip and chase me within an inch of my life! Again. playing led to an understanding of how things worked.
If you are looking for a marketing agency with a childlike wonder for creativity. Give me a call 918-544-6194.
About The Author
Michael Woodruff is the owner of Woodruff Media Management, a marketing/media production company in Miami, Oklahoma. In addition to getting an "A" in Finger Painting in preschool, Mike earned a certificate of Film Production from Central New Mexico Community College and a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication from Missouri Southern State University.