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12th October 2014
Location: Brighton Toy and Model Museum
Interviewer – Sean Kelly
Videographer – Dan Cash

00.05 – Hugo: Action Men, I had a large collection of Action Men. I had some fairly old ones I think, the earliest one I had was from the 80s, I also had Action Men and Action Men knock-offs that I didn’t like that much, and they were always used to test things I made, like I made a zipwire and so my least favourite would go down it first to make sure it wouldn’t break, then my favourite ones went down, so yeah, I had a test one I found in a charity store for like two pounds, that was a horrible knock-off, he was thrown off the roof with a parachute that didn’t work, that’s the end of that one!

00.45 – Hugo: I would spend ages constructing sort of like big card – whenever I had a big cardboard box, like make a big base of them, intricate furniture and stuff like that, and then there would be about ten minutes of destroying the base in a scenario, so it took me 5 hours to make this thing and then I would spent ten minutes destroying it and then start all over again. I did just construct things like elevators, zipwires, parachutes, stuff like that to like test on them, to play with, which usually ended in disaster, but the construction’s the fun part.

01.15 – Hugo: I had a couple of favourites, like the one from the 80s would never be put in a sort of precarious situation, I had a couple more favourites, one I got for one of my birthdays and, trying to remember, one I just really liked the accessories he came with, so those ones had a special place, those ones would be my favourites, whereas the others were expendable, to put it bluntly.

01.41 – Hugo: I had another parachute one that was an actual Action Man parachute one, he lost a leg. One…thing…sometimes the joints were very – the old Action Men didn’t have joints, they had, like, pieces of plastic, that bent into shape, and that would snap half the time. Then with the newer ones the joints would break, or there’s a piece of elastic that held the middle part together, that would degrade over time, but that…I fixed them until the point when they were no longer fixable.

02.14 – Hugo: The Action Men were passed to a young relative or an – actually I think it was a friend of the family we passed those onto. I’ve kept one, and one other, that was a G.I. Joe that I got from America, those two I kept, so the one from the 80s and the G. I. Joe from America.

02.32 – Hugo: I had a couple of G. I. Joe I came across, used to be part of like a collector’s club, so I got a discount on getting dolls and stuff like that, a very intricate model of a SWAT person, I believe, it wasn’t G. I. Joe, it was the same scale, I was fascinated by that one because it had all this little detail like the shotgun you could insert the shells into and stuff.

02.58 – Hugo: always spent ages setting up the scenarios and stuff like that, big battles, took ages to set up and about ten minutes of play, but I would spend entire days constructing like – I would get an idea in my head, like the zipwire took four? Four, five hours to construct, and get perfect, and that’s all, because I learnt about stuff, like in school, the elevator as well, because I learnt about pulley systems in school, and I was like “I need to implement this with toys”, and so went, got stuff, and then spent I think six hours trying to perfect something, so it’s just applying stuff I’ve learnt basically, those are the good memories.

Sean: Would you say you treated Action Men primarily as construction toys?

Hugo: Yeah, most things were construction toys –

Sean: [laughs]

Hugo: But it was always to an aim of making the battles more interesting, so they were still for playing war with, just how to make war not a standard having two figures just going “pow” at each other, so a bit more complicated than that, vehicles were always my favourite thing as well, vehicles made things interesting, Once again vehicles went down the stairs, I liked watching things crash, I remember there was a toy called Crash Test Dummies that were held together by springs, and as soon as they crashed they would explode, and it was like the perfect toy for me, because I just liked seeing things crash.

04.16 – ENDS

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12th October 2014
Location: Brighton Toy and Model Museum
Interviewer –Sean Kelly
Videographer – Dan Cash

0.07 – Sean: Where were you born and when?

Hugo: A hospital of Haywards Heath, September of 1989, but I think my parents were living actually in Bognor Regis at the time.

Sean: Where did you spend your childhood?

Hugo: Most of my childhood was spent moving around, but I spent most of it in the countryside, sometimes in the city, though, mostly suburban places or countryside places.

00.39 – Sean: I’m going to ask you about teddy bears now… Did you have a teddy bear?

Hugo: I had a handmade thing called Steggy the Stegosaurus my grandmother – which was a stegosaurus, handknitted, with dungarees, still got him around somewhere.

Sean: Can you tell me about him?

Hugo: Given to me I think when I was 4, a pattern my grandmother found somewhere, went with me pretty much everywhere, every school trip, until it became a bit embarrassing to bring a teddy bear on school trips, and spent most of his time in my bed. Got retired from being used probably when I was about… 12, stayed in my room for ages and now is probably around my parent’s house.

Sean: Well you said it’s handmade, what do you know if anything about the age or condition or materials used or anything like that?

Hugo: It’s just wool, hand – it’s knitted wool, pretty standard stuffing, don’t know where the pattern came from, I think the pattern came from a knitting magazine, my nan still has the pattern. It got slightly chewed on by some cats so whenever she makes the stegosaurus they have a slightly weird crick in the neck, but she made another one for one of my cousins.

Sean: Did you play with it as such? If so what sort of games did you play with it?

Hugo: I didn’t really play, talk to it maybe but, there were some scenarios I put it in, so yeah… hostage situations, or got thrown down the stairs a lot, because there was no…nothing to get damaged, it was basically a pillow in stegosaurus form, so got thrown down the stairs a lot to see how it bounced.

Sean: How do you feel about it?

Hugo: Very much attached, possibly will pass it on if I ever have kids, or young children I want to pass it onto, I would like to keep it around basically, make sure it gets passed onto someone that would appreciate it.

Sean: So what are your best memories?

Hugo: School trips, camping trips, school trips in primary school, because everyone would bring a stuffed toy and stuff like that, so it’s just basically comparing preferences and stuff like that. One of my friends always had a little stuffed dog he carried everywhere, so you just, like, compare and put them in scenarios and stuff like that, I think.

03.20 – Sean: Now onto dolls, did you play with dolls or anything you would consider to be a doll?

Hugo: Action Men, I had a large collection of Action Men. I had some fairly old ones I think, the earliest one I had was from the 80s, I also had Action Men and Action Men knock-offs that I didn’t like that much, and they were always used to test things I made, like I made a zipwire and so my least favourite would go down it first to make sure it wouldn’t break, then my favourite ones went down, so yeah, I had a test one I found in a charity store for like two pounds, that was a horrible knock-off, he was thrown off the roof with a parachute that didn’t work, that’s the end of that one!

Sean: How did you – how else did you play with them, what sorts of games did you play with them?

Hugo: I would spend ages constructing sort of like big card – whenever I had a big cardboard box, like make a big base of them, intricate furniture and stuff like that, and then there would be about ten minutes of destroying the base in a scenario, so it took me 5 hours to make this thing and then I would spent ten minutes destroying it and then start all over again. I did just construct things like elevators, zipwires, parachutes, stuff like that to like test on them, to play with, which usually ended in disaster, but the construction’s the fun part.

Sean: How important where they for you?

Hugo: I had a couple of favourites, like the one from the 80s would never be put in a sort 2 of precarious situation, I had a couple more favourites, one I got for one of my birthdays and, trying to remember, one I just really liked the accessories he came with, so those ones had a special place, those ones would be my favourites, whereas the others were expendable, to put it bluntly.

Sean: How did, um, the others fare from damage, apart from the one that fell off the roof?

Hugo: I had another parachute one that was an actual Action Man parachute one, he lost a leg. One…thing…sometimes the joints were very – the old Action Men didn’t have joints, they had, like, pieces of plastic, that bent into shape, and that would snap half the time. Then with the newer ones the joints would break, or there’s a piece of elastic that held the middle part together, that would degrade over time, but that…I fixed them until the point when they were no longer fixable.

Sean: Do you still have them?

Hugo: The Action Men were passed to a young relative or an – actually I think it was a friend of the family we passed those onto. I’ve kept one, and one other, that was a G.I. Joe that I got from America, those two I kept, so the one from the 80s and the G. I. Joe from America.

Sean: Did you ever have anything else in G. I. Joe or was it really just Action Men?

Hugo: I had a couple of G. I. Joe I came across, used to be part of like a collector’s club, so I got a discount on getting dolls and stuff like that, a very intricate model of a SWAT person, I believe, it wasn’t G. I. Joe, it was the same scale, I was fascinated by that one because it had all this little detail like the shotgun you could insert the shells into and stuff.

Sean: What are your best memories of them?

Hugo: Of the Action Men?

Sean: Or either…

Hugo: Spending the day playing with them, I always spent ages setting up the scenarios and stuff like that, big battles, took ages to set up and about ten minutes of play, but I would spend entire days constructing like – I would get an idea in my head, like the zipwire took four? Four, five hours to construct, and get perfect, and that’s all, because I learnt about stuff, like in school, the elevator as well, because I learnt about pulley systems in school, and I was like “I need to implement this with toys”, and so went, got stuff, and then spent I think six hours trying to perfect something, so it’s just applying stuff I’ve learnt basically, those are the good memories.

Sean: Would you say you treated Action Men primarily as construction toys?

Hugo: Yeah, most things were construction toys –

Sean: [laughs]

Hugo: But it was always to an aim of making the battles more interesting, so they were still for playing war with, just how to make war not a standard having two figures just going “pow” at each other, so a bit more complicated than that, vehicles were always my favourite thing as well, vehicles made things interesting, Once again vehicles went down the stairs, I liked watching things crash, I remember there was a toy called Crash Test Dummies that were held together by springs, and as soon as they crashed they would explode, and it was like the perfect toy for me, because I just liked seeing things crash.

08.45 – Sean: Did you play with any other construction toys?

Hugo: Meccano, I had some 1960s Meccano I believe. I made a cable car out of them once, but I didn’t have complete sets because I just picked them up from charity stores, and so it was always hard to – I had no instructions to work with because I didn’t have all the pieces to follow the instructions with, so it was always trying to construct your own thing, and I continued playing with them until I went to university, I tried making a catapult once, that didn’t go well, so basically it was experimenting, trying to come up with your own ideas and they very rarely worked, but when they did it was very satisfying.

Sean: Anything else? Like Lego…

Hugo: Ah, I had a massive load of Lego, a huge box of Lego, which has been passed onto a young relative as well, had Lego spanning from the 60s, had some of the classic spacemen as well, stuff like that. Lego was also once again spent ages constructing and then all for the point of destroying it, never really had any models that I kept in one piece for more than a week, I would follow the instructions at first and then it would usually just go in a big box and then I’d construct my own original ideas, like massive buildings, one of my favourite things to do because you could destroy them slowly [laughs].

Sean: How did you come to own your Lego?

Hugo: Parents picked out from, just picked out – whenever…I think my Dad had some Lego, so he passed that on, then well they’d just pick it up whenever they had the opportunity to. Yeah, don’t really know. Christmas and stuff you would get sets but we had a lot more Lego than, Lego than the set would imply, so I guess we just picked it up in big bags of random pieces from charity stores sometimes as well.

Sean: When do you think you started to get Lego and Meccano?

Hugo: Meccano was a bit later, because when I was born Meccano was already in the stage when it wasn’t good, so it was whenever we came across the old sets in charity stores, so I got that when I was round about 14, Lego: as long as I can remember, because my brother had it, my older brother already had it, so… I can’t remember when I started getting Lego.

Sean: What sort of games did you play with Lego, and did you play it with anyone, or…?

Hugo: With my brother, we’d spend ages constructing stuff and usually whole society sort of running, not really war with Lego, it was how the society ran, who did what, that sort of thing. Each one had a job, stuff like that, yeah so then there’d be political strife, I don’t know, it’s – this whole society ran, there’d be a great big catastrophe and you’d start over again the next day.

Sean: How do you feel about Lego and Meccano in hindsight?

Hugo: I think Lego is one of the greatest toys out there, it’s something everyone can enjoy, 4 I mean they’ve made some misteps along the way, like especially some modern stuff, but Lego still at the core is a construction toy that has many applications, is generally good,… Meccano: I don’t like modern Meccano, modern Meccano is not good, it’s too specialised pieces and stuff, whereas it should be about – it shouldn’t be an easy toy, but it has become an easy toy, in fact old Meccano was I think a very good innovation.

Sean: Do you still have your Lego and Meccano?

Hugo: I have the Meccano because it’s just not safe to pass onto anyone young, but yeah Lego was passed to a young relative, of… second cousin I think, because I wasn’t playing with it so I’m always in the idea that toys should be played with so I passed them on, and I was quite sentiment – yeah attached to it, but just…it was a huge crate, it was round about that big full of Lego. Just…so yeah that got passed on, and yeah, the big crate of Action Men got passed on as well.

Sean: Do you have any particularly fond memories of Lego?

Hugo: Yeah, bonding with my brother and yeah, spending days playing it, whenever my friends came round there was never an argument whether we got the Lego out or not because everyone enjoys Lego, so it was always a good go-to.

Sean: Did you ever want a teddy bear, doll or construction toy you couldn’t have?

Hugo: There was a lot of toys like accessories to Action Men, like the vehicles were really expensive, and so we rarely could afford those or get those, I remember hovercraft Action Men – a hovercraft thing? – I really wanted. Lego we couldn’t afford too often because Lego is always a bit pricey, but yeah I saved up for a lot of things. Family couldn’t really afford too many presents, so… but the occasional big thing, but there was a lot of stuff I wanted that I couldn’t get.

Sean: Are there any other memories of teddy bears, dolls or construction toys you’d like to talk about?

Hugo: Not off the top of my head, no, sorry.

Sean: Thank you very much participating…

Hugo: No problem.

INTERVIEW ENDS – 14.31

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Read the transcript of the audio track

12th October 2014
Location: Brighton Toy and Model Museum
Interviewer – Sean Kelly
Videographer – Dan Cash

Sean: Where were you born and when?

Hugo: A hospital of Haywards Heath, September of 1989, but I think my parents were living actually in Bognor Regis at the time.

Sean: Where did you spend your childhood?

Hugo: Most of my childhood was spent moving around, but I spent most of it in the countryside, sometimes in the city, though, mostly suburban places or countryside places.

00.34 – Sean: I’m going to ask you about teddy bears now… Did you have a teddy bear?

Hugo: I had a handmade thing called Steggy the Stegosaurus my grandmother – which was a stegosaurus, handknitted, with dungarees, still got him around somewhere.

Sean: Can you tell me about him?

Hugo: Given to me I think when I was 4, a pattern my grandmother found somewhere, went with me pretty much everywhere, every school trip, until it became a bit embarrassing to bring a teddy bear on school trips, and spent most of his time in my bed. Got retired from being used probably when I was about… 12, stayed in my room for ages and now is probably around my parent’s house.

Sean: Well you said it’s handmade, what do you know if anything about the age or condition or materials used or anything like that?

Hugo: It’s just wool, hand – it’s knitted wool, pretty standard stuffing, don’t know where the pattern came from, I think the pattern came from a knitting magazine, my nan still has the pattern. It got slightly chewed on by some cats so whenever she makes the stegosaurus they have a slightly weird crick in the neck, but she made another one for one of my cousins.

Sean: Did you play with it as such? If so what sort of games did you play with it?

Hugo: I didn’t really play, talk to it maybe but, there were some scenarios I put it in, so yeah… hostage situations, or got thrown down the stairs a lot, because there was no…nothing to get damaged, it was basically a pillow in stegosaurus form, so got thrown down the stairs a lot to see how it bounced.

Sean: How do you feel about it?

Hugo: Very much attached, possibly will pass it on if I ever have kids, or young children I want to pass it onto, I would like to keep it around basically, make sure it gets passed onto someone that would appreciate it.

Sean: So what are your best memories?

Hugo: School trips, camping trips, school trips in primary school, because everyone would bring a stuffed toy and stuff like that, so it’s just basically comparing preferences and stuff like that. One of my friends always had a little stuffed dog he carried everywhere, so you just, like, compare and put them in scenarios and stuff like that, I think.

3.15 – Sean: Now onto dolls, did you play with dolls or anything you would consider to be a doll?

Hugo: Action Men, I had a large collection of Action Men. I had some fairly old ones I think, the earliest one I had was from the 80s, I also had Action Men and Action Men knock-offs that I didn’t like that much, and they were always used to test things I made, like I made a zipwire and so my least favourite would go down it first to make sure it wouldn’t break, then my favourite ones went down, so yeah, I had a test one I found in a charity store for like two pounds, that was a horrible knock-off, he was thrown off the roof with a parachute that didn’t work, that’s the end of that one!

Sean: How did you – how else did you play with them, what sorts of games did you play with them?

Hugo: I would spend ages constructing sort of like big card – whenever I had a big cardboard box, like make a big base of them, intricate furniture and stuff like that, and then there would be about ten minutes of destroying the base in a scenario, so it took me 5 hours to make this thing and then I would spent ten minutes destroying it and then start all over again. I did just construct things like elevators, zipwires, parachutes, stuff like that to like test on them, to play with, which usually ended in disaster, but the construction’s the fun part.

Sean: How important where they for you?

Hugo: I had a couple of favourites, like the one from the 80s would never be put in a sort of precarious situation, I had a couple more favourites, one I got for one of my birthdays and, trying to remember, one I just really liked the accessories he came with, so those ones had a special place, those ones would be my favourites, whereas the others were expendable, to put it bluntly.

Sean: How did, um, the others fare from damage, apart from the one that fell off the roof?

Hugo: I had another parachute one that was an actual Action Man parachute one, he lost a leg. One…thing…sometimes the joints were very – the old Action Men didn’t have joints, they had, like, pieces of plastic, that bent into shape, and that would snap half the time. Then with the newer ones the joints would break, or there’s a piece of elastic that held the middle part together, that would degrade over time, but that…I fixed them until the point when they were no longer fixable.

Sean: Do you still have them?

Hugo: The Action Men were passed to a young relative or an – actually I think it was a friend of the family we passed those onto. I’ve kept one, and one other, that was a G.I. Joe that I got from America, those two I kept, so the one from the 80s and the G. I. Joe from America.

Sean: Did you ever have anything else in G. I. Joe or was it really just Action Men?

Hugo: I had a couple of G. I. Joe I came across, used to be part of like a collector’s club, so I got a discount on getting dolls and stuff like that, a very intricate model of a SWAT person, I believe, it wasn’t G. I. Joe, it was the same scale, I was fascinated by that one because it had all this little detail like the shotgun you could insert the shells into and stuff.

Sean: What are your best memories of them?

Hugo: Of the Action Men?

Sean: Or either…

Hugo: Spending the day playing with them, I always spent ages setting up the scenarios and stuff like that, big battles, took ages to set up and about ten minutes of play, but I would spend entire days constructing like – I would get an idea in my head, like the zipwire took four? Four, five hours to construct, and get perfect, and that’s all, because I learnt about stuff, like in school, the elevator as well, because I learnt about pulley systems in school, and I was like “I need to implement this with toys”, and so went, got stuff, and then spent I think six hours trying to perfect something, so it’s just applying stuff I’ve learnt basically, those are the good memories.

Sean: Would you say you treated Action Men primarily as construction toys?

Hugo: Yeah, most things were construction toys –

Sean: [laughs]

Hugo: But it was always to an aim of making the battles more interesting, so they were still for playing war with, just how to make war not a standard having two figures just going “pow” at each other, so a bit more complicated than that, vehicles were always my favourite thing as well, vehicles made things interesting, Once again vehicles went down the stairs, I liked watching things crash, I remember there was a toy called Crash Test Dummies that were held together by springs, and as soon as they crashed they would explode, and it was like the perfect toy for me, because I just liked seeing things crash.

08.41 – Sean: Did you play with any other construction toys?

Hugo: Meccano, I had some 1960s Meccano I believe. I made a cable car out of them once, but I didn’t have complete sets because I just picked them up from charity stores, and so it was always hard to – I had no instructions to work with because I didn’t have all the pieces to follow the instructions with, so it was always trying to construct your own thing, and I continued playing with them until I went to university, I tried making a catapult once, that didn’t go well, so basically it was experimenting, trying to come up with your own ideas and they very rarely worked, but when they did it was very satisfying.

Sean: Anything else? Like Lego…

Hugo: Ah, I had a massive load of Lego, a huge box of Lego, which has been passed onto a young relative as well, had Lego spanning from the 60s, had some of the classic spacemen as well, stuff like that. Lego was also once again spent ages constructing and then all for the point of destroying it, never really had any models that I kept in one piece for more than a week, I would follow the instructions at first and then it would usually just go in a big box and then I’d construct my own original ideas, like massive buildings, one of my favourite things to do because you could destroy them slowly [laughs].

Sean: How did you come to own your Lego?

Hugo: Parents picked out from, just picked out – whenever…I think my Dad had some Lego, so he passed that on, then well they’d just pick it up whenever they had the opportunity to. Yeah, don’t really know. Christmas and stuff you would get sets but we had a lot more Lego than, Lego than the set would imply, so I guess we just picked it up in big bags of random pieces from charity stores sometimes as well.

Sean: When do you think you started to get Lego and Meccano?

Hugo: Meccano was a bit later, because when I was born Meccano was already in the stage when it wasn’t good, so it was whenever we came across the old sets in charity stores, so I got that when I was round about 14, Lego: as long as I can remember, because my brother had it, my older brother already had it, so… I can’t remember when I started getting Lego.

Sean: What sort of games did you play with Lego, and did you play it with anyone, or…?

Hugo: With my brother, we’d spend ages constructing stuff and usually whole society sort of running, not really war with Lego, it was how the society ran, who did what, that sort of thing. Each one had a job, stuff like that, yeah so then there’d be political strife, I don’t know, it’s – this whole society ran, there’d be a great big catastrophe and you’d start over again the next day.

Sean: How do you feel about Lego and Meccano in hindsight?

Hugo: I think Lego is one of the greatest toys out there, it’s something everyone can enjoy, I mean they’ve made some misteps along the way, like especially some modern stuff, but Lego still at the core is a construction toy that has many applications, is generally good,…

Meccano: I don’t like modern Meccano, modern Meccano is not good, it’s too specialised pieces and stuff, whereas it should be about – it shouldn’t be an easy toy, but it has become an easy toy, in fact old Meccano was I think a very good innovation.

Sean: Do you still have your Lego and Meccano?

Hugo: I have the Meccano because it’s just not safe to pass onto anyone young, but yeah Lego was passed to a young relative, of… second cousin I think, because I wasn’t playing with it so I’m always in the idea that toys should be played with so I passed them on, and I was quite sentiment – yeah attached to it, but just…it was a huge crate, it was round about that big full of Lego. Just…so yeah that got passed on, and yeah, the big crate of Action Men got passed on as well.

Sean: Do you have any particularly fond memories of Lego?

Hugo: Yeah, bonding with my brother and yeah, spending days playing it, whenever my friends came round there was never an argument whether we got the Lego out or not because everyone enjoys Lego, so it was always a good go-to.

Sean: Did you ever want a teddy bear, doll or construction toy you couldn’t have?

Hugo: There was a lot of toys like accessories to Action Men, like the vehicles were really expensive, and so we rarely could afford those or get those, I remember hovercraft Action Men – a hovercraft thing? – I really wanted. Lego we couldn’t afford too often because Lego is always a bit pricey, but yeah I saved up for a lot of things. Family couldn’t really afford too many presents, so… but the occasional big thing, but there was a lot of stuff I wanted that I couldn’t get.

Sean: Are there any other memories of teddy bears, dolls or construction toys you’d like to talk about?

Hugo: Not off the top of my head, no, sorry. Sean: Thank you very much participating… Hugo: No problem.

INTERVIEW ENDS – 14m 27s

Hugo

Hugo was born in Haywards Heath in 1989, and moved a number of times as a child. He regarded most toys as construction toys and in the short version (4m 16s) of his interview he discusses the scenarios that he built for his Action Men. In the full version (14m 31s) he also talks about his cuddly stegosaurus,  Lego and Meccano.