You’re the Inspiration: Part 1 – "Early Childhood Toys”


          I know that for most writers, or some writers, or a lot of writers, well me anyway inspiration comes from some really weird places. I’ve been thinking a lot about where my ideas come from lately and decided what I needed to do, as always, was work the issues out in public via my essays.


            Yes, I’m still trying to kill the vile word BLOG!


            So the first thing I did to prepare for this journey was strip naked and lie upon the bed. What? I always tend to think better when my body isn’t restricted by the restraint of clothing. Don’t tell me you freaks don’t have little quirks that allow you to function better. Anyway I was naked, in bed, and cuddling with my body pillow.

            Deal with it boils and ghouls.

            So I was trying to decide where my first inspirations came from and I’d nearly settle on television as my initial source of inspiration, which I have to admit would have been a little heartbreaking, when I struck upon a very old but powerful memory

            Late 1970’s Early1980’s Fisher Price Action Figures!

            I have zero memory of receiving them. I only know they were in my football shaped toy box, anyone who knows me can see how funny that is, before I started school and before my unnamed brother was born. That means at the most I was 4 years old.

            I know I had three distinct sets of figures. I’m not sure if they all came in complete sets with accompanying vehicles and brick-a-brack. Knowing my parents I’d say they were bought in compete sets.

            I had the space set, this one was my favorite. It came with a shuttle and several astronauts. This was amazing. It may have been one of the most durable toys I ever owned as well. The figure were robust and in various space uniforms. The shuttle had a series of wicked sound effects and lights that worked until one too many trips into the bathtub. That was when I learned the difference between “Water Proof” and “Water Resistant” to my chagrin.

            I Had the Wilderness Patrol Set. This was my least favorite… except for the plane I used it as the enemy craft the fight the space shuttle which for some reason had laser cannons. The set continued three vehicles a pontoon boat, a Jeepish thing, and a bush plane. Along with the improbable vehicles there were three action figures an airplane pilot, a boat pilot, and a trucker hat wearing driver for the “Jeepish” vehicle. There was one very odd thing about the Patrol set. For some damn reason Lassie was a part of the team. I’m not sure if that was because Timmy was a member of the patrol of if the Trucker Cap Redneck stole her from the farm but yeah… the damn set came with Lassie.

            The final set I had was the weirdest. And by weirdest I don’t mean it was a serial killer set of the prison play set. In fact this was actually on the surface one of the most normal sets… until you stop and think about it. This was the camping set. It came with a bright orange Jeep, a silver canoe, a tent, and two male action figures. They were two very manly male action figures. Two very bromance related action figures. Two action figures I could imagine catching in a Brokeback Mountain moment together. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. I mean hell maybe back in the day Fisher Price was attempting to prep us for homosexuals in the world of entertainment.

            So yeah, there was that.

            These sets were the first things I can remember using to create in a directed way. I’m sure I drew things before I knew how to write but I don’t actually remember any of those efforts and nobody ca clarify it for me. I know I made complicated stories (or complicated for a four year old) with these toys. For the life of me I don’t remember these narratives and I think we are all probably better off not knowing what I did with them. Although I’m sure none of the action figures fucked one another… but Lassie probably killed someone.

            Because even in 1980 that was how Josh rolled!

            The next toy which served as major inspiration for pre literate Josh was something called “Tub Town.” This toy didn’t actually belong to me but instead to my unnamed brother. Tub town was a two level harbor city play set in the spirit of Play Mobil toys. If I were more of an asshole than I really am I would say the makers of Tub Town ripped off Play Mobil. It suctioned cupped the side of the tub. It came with a small boat, four action figures, life preservers, and two buoy barrels.

            What I did with Tub Town should have been a warning sign to the adults in my life.

            My favorite thing to do with Tub Town was to first build up a good bubble bath. Hey don’t you fucking judge me I still love bubble baths the suds around my twig and berries is so relaxing. It’s like a Pixie Hand Job. Next I would arrange all of the Tub Town accessories on the play set. I would do voices for them and have them interact like it was a normal sunny day and they were going about their lives.

            I like to think if I was a force of nature I’d be a tsunami.

            The destruction of Tub Town came in waves of sudsy water. Each wave was stronger than the one before and I did the screaming voices of the citizens of Tub Town as they were ripped from their homes in terror and consigned to the depths of my soapy and most likely urine tinged bath water.

            These were the toys which began the embers of my imagination glowing hot. I still have nothing but amazing memories of them and I wish I still had them. I looked into picking some of them up on eBay and HOLY SHIT my childhood would be expensive to rebuild. But fuck I really want the Space Shuttle and Lassie… and maybe the gay campers.

            Next time I move on to the toys I loved and used my imagination on between the years encompassing 5 – 12. So until them I encourage you to take your possibly gay toys into the tub and drown them in the waves of soapy urine saturated water.






Josh Hilden

When I was born on August 3, 1976 in the great state of Michigan the hills shook and the sky was swept with fire. These were portents of the greatness for my future that was written in the stars ... I'm still waiting for that greatness. My name is Josh Hilden and I am many things. I am a husband, a father, a son, a friend. These are all important things but at my core I am an artist and the medium that I work in is words. I am a writer of Horror, Science Fiction, Drama, and Role Playing Games. I worked for Palladium Books ( and Third Eye Games ( before striking out on my own and founding a small press publishing company Gorillas with Scissors Press ( I also work for Fat Goblin Games ( In the everyday world I can be found spending time with my family and friends. I have been married to my lovely wife Karen since 1996 and we have six amazing children. We tend to be a family of unabashed geeks and gamers who were geek before geek was chic. If you are really interested in me I am very active online with a personal and a writing blog along with a plethora of social media outlets. If you have any questions or just want to chat hit me up!