At some point, I suppose it’s inevitable that one looks back upon childhood and thinks about toys. No matter your generation, your toys were much cooler than the new-fangled gizmos the current generation plays with, and darn it, I’m right about that. Because not much can compare to Marx Toys’ Navarone Play Set!
Note that this large, grey play set, displayed here in a happy moment on Christmas Day, 1976, does not seem to be officially linked to Alistair MacLean’s The Guns of Navarone action-thriller novel from 1957 nor the 1961 movie based upon the same. There’s no tie-in language on the packaging, which can be seen in a story on the Official Marx Toy Museum from the July 13, 2008, Reading Eagle, and the name of the play set from the box is “Famous World War II Battle of Navarone Giant Play Set,” not “The Guns of Navarone Play Set.”
But, um, Navarone doesn’t actually exist outside of MacLean’s fervid imagination, and there was no “Famous World War II Battle” there outside of book covers or movie theaters. I suppose IP lawyers were less active in those days. To live in simpler times…
The play set itself was, for a young lad, a work of beauty and genius all at once. Lots of cannons, rope ladders for scaling the face of the mountain, a working elevator in the back, and even bunk beds! And tons and tons of plastic army men—not that I didn’t have tons anyway, but more was always better. It was, in truth, sort of a Barbie house for plastic army men, though one bristled at the comparison at the time.