This afternoon, sifting through some old toys, I discovered a childhood favorite, the Tomy Big Loader (which they apparently still make). Overcome with nostalgia, I quickly assembled it and found it just as fascinating as I did as a toddler. I recall intently watching this toy doing the same circuit for hours on end. Besides appealing (and probably contributing to) my love of construction vehicles and trucks, the Big Loader seems like a really ingenious, educational toy that can teach a child about the importance of order, loops, and connectivity.
Basically, a battery powered vehicle runs on a track and assumes the shells of a several different construction vehicles as it catches, tips, scoops, and dumps loads of black balls into hoppers, through chutes, etc. The Big Loader’s a really neat toy because of how compact and well-engineered it is, and I’m pretty sure its repetitive, orderly, and interconnected activities taught a young Andrew (ages 3 and up) valuable sequential and associative thinking skills.
I wonder if a toy like this would hold up with today’s youth. Obviously, you could design a game or program that teaches similar (or even more interactive) sequential thinking skills, but there’s definitely something to having the real-life plastic version in front of you when learning a concept, and tactile, aural, and visual stimuli are very important during developmental stages. The Big Loader’s colors are vibrant, the whir of the engine is delightful, and you can physically change the course of the vehicles.
I made a brief film of this fantastic toy in action. Hopefully, a video showcasing its ingenious engineering will fortify its place in my memory as one of my favorite toys.