Plasticville USA

This is another collection management story.

Six years ago when we had our very first fundraiser to raise money to process our corporate paperwork (it was a garage sale), someone dropped off a couple of battered cardboard boxes containing odd toys in various stages of disrepair. Not wanting to accidentally sell anything that we might want for LATDA, we set the boxes aside. One of them we triaged at the time, the other managed to get stored away and unearthed recently.

The box was covered with a layer of grime and dust, but appeared to hold pieces of plastic buildings and a couple of train accessories in their original packaging. It was hard to tell if there were any complete buildings until each piece was cleaned and laid out on the table. The most intact piece was a small station platform with a sign on top proclaiming the destination, “Plasticville”.

Half a roll of paper towels and an hour later, I had assembled ten more pieces of Plasticville – a tulip greenhouse; a concrete blockhouse radio station; a pink mid-century movie theater called the ‘Paramount’; a house under construction; a fire station; a gas station; a water tower; a train refueling station; a barn with the requisite ‘Mail Pouch Tobacco’ ad on the roof; and a pedestrian bridge plastered with nostalgic advertising for Corvair and Bardahl Oil.

As I pieced together each building, I realized how much fun I missed not being encouraged to play with trains. It was a different sense of ‘world-building’ than one experiences playing with dolls and dollhouses. Certainly a larger perspective – with detail coming from architectural features rather than accessories. Another of the LATDA leadership harbors the same regrets…her brother was the one with the train set. I think there is a train layout in LATDA’s future.

Plasticville is still being manufactured today by Bachmann Trains and there is a Plasticville Collector’s Association. I learned from the PCA that our pieces are HO scale. I love the ad on the HO page. One might infer that Plasticville might be somewhere in the vicinity of Hollywood Bl. and Western Ave., judging by the conductor’s announcement.