As a kid I had a number of toys and, back in the day, I probably would have tried to wrap my arms around them feverishly and claim they were all prized possessions. My sister and I were total 90’s kids and collected all the popular things of the day – barbies, Ken dolls (mine had scuba pants that would magically appear when you dunked him in cold water), Polly Pockets and Golden Books. Unlike a lot of our friends we became obsessed with some obscure baby figurines that were sold in lucky dip packs at the supermarket for $1.99. At the time these were pretty much the be all and end all of our toy collections and consequently caused a lot of conflict in terms of ownership and swapping. Estelle was a wily kid who put bits of carrot or salt blocks into my Milo on numerous occasions and would often try to convince me that larger coins equaled higher value… I wasn’t exactly a model child either and once filled an envelope with flour, chucked in a ransom note, ran down to the mailbox (it was about a K away) and then gleefully waited until my parents opened the letter to discover a mailbox full of anthrax….weird.
Anyway out of all of my toys and the heap of junk I had accrued my most prized possession was, without a doubt, my Simba plush.
In 1994 the Lion King was released, it was your typical ‘Little Engine that Could’ story. The Lion King was originally put forward as a small budget shit flick to be released for a short run and shelved in the archives of Disney. Obviously that didn’t happen and the film was an epic hit that has grossed almost a billion dollars since its release twenty years ago.
Coinciding with the release of the film was a massive product push of plush toys, figurines (including a McDonalds Happy Meal release), foods and basically anything you can think of. I was in love with the film and cried the first time I saw it. I’ve watched it dozens of times and when the second film was released I would sit as close to the TV as my parents would permit to watch the first film and quickly rip the VHS out of the video player and swap it over with the second film the moment it finished.
Quite a few months after the film was released my nan had a bad fall and had to be admitted to hospital for a number of days. Her hospital visit was around the time of my sixth birthday and my Aunty took me to visit nan. I have a very strong recollection of visiting nan and standing close to the hospital bed and being just tall enough to stand on my tip toes and kiss her on the cheek. Nan had organised for a birthday gift to be purchased for me and it was my Simba plush. It was instant love. I carried the thing around like an extra limb and dutifully cut it’s fur (which I thought was growing).
I still have the Simba plush, it’s actually moved with me eight times and currently lives in my wardrobe in Fitzroy. It looks pretty patchy these days, I wasn’t gifted with the logic or hairdressing skills necessary to realise the haircuts I inflicted upon Simba were completely unnecessary.