Review: Toytopia

I thought the new exhibit at the Wilbur D. May Museum, Toytopia, was going to be a perfect fit for the kids. Boy, was I wrong… this exhibit is amazing for kids and adults alike! (see what I did there?)

So, what is Toytopia? It’s nearly $100,000 worth of toys that take you on a trip down nostalgia lane. The blast from the past starts in 1900 with Tinker Toys and Erector Sets, and covers every decade on the way to modern day. There are dozens of rare and vintage toys tucked safely behind plexiglass, but the magic of Toytopia is how hands-on most of the exhibit is. As a parent, we all know that even an exhibit about toys could test the patience and attention span of a child if everything was locked behind glass. But, Toytopia lets your children touch, play with and fully experience toys left and right – from the life-sized doll house, to Jenga, to board games & puzzles, to the holy grail of a vintage arcade and an enormous floor keyboard. This isn’t a “do not touch” exhibit.

Besides being thrilled that the kids loved the exhibit, I really enjoyed the stroll down memory lane. I was reminded of childhood favorites such as Teddy Ruxpin, GI Joe, Star Wars toys, Simon, Lite Brite, Speak n’ Spell and more. But, the vintage arcade was the highlight for me. It featured about 10 games such as Ms. Pac Man, Donkey Kong Junior, Dig Dug, Defender, Pole Position and Space Invaders. Of course, all of these games are free so the kids can adjust to the learning curve of playing vintage arcade games (so much harder than modern video games!). There was even a fun feature that allowed you to listen to an audio clip of the classic video game chiptunes and try to identify the game it was from. I could have done that all day if there were more. As an adult, if you can’t find something to connect to within this exhibit, I just feel bad for you.

You and your family can navigate the exhibit in about two hours (depending on how long you spend playing with your favorite toys), but some families easily spend 3 to 4 hours having fun with this exhibit. There is no additional cost (besides admission) other than the Zoltar machine, made famous by the movie “Big,” costs a dollar to have your future told and get an official card. The admission costs are very reasonable – $9/adults, $8/children, $0/age 3 and younger. If you just want to geek out and try to beat my high score on Dig Dug without the kiddos there, the exhibit is open to an Adults Only night on April 8th, complete with an 80s theme and food/alcohol.

I highly encourage you to explore and enjoy Toytopia – what’s even better is that your support of outstanding exhibits like this allows the Museum to bring in additional high-level exhibits like this one. You only have until April 16, and then Toytopia packs up and leaves our community. To stay up to date on future exhibits and all the happenings at the Wilbur D. May Museum, follow them on Facebook or their website.

Author’s note: much like the arcade, my admission to this exhibit was a free play; but the opinions expressed are my own and uninfluenced by the Museum or my ability to remaster my skills at dig dug.

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