…it was my favorite place to be!
Well, at least in 1986 it was!
Did you miss me?
After a brief vacation to plummet thirteen stories to my doom, travel to infinity (and space!) and beyond, careen down a steep hill in a watery cavern, eat in the Beast’s castle, and take on the roles of co-pilot, co-gunner, and co-engineer of the Millennium Falcon, my feet are firmly planted back in reality, and I’m back to all of my writing duties!
All photos from author’s personal collection
Don’t act like me and my husband standing in front of the Millennium Falcon isn’t the most impressive thing you’ve seen today.
Anyway, as part of my return to Pop Culture Retrorama duties, something I’ve thought about writing about, but apparently saved for a bit….
Nostalgia Through Rose-Colored Glasses
As lovers (and continued consumers) of nostalgia, we all look back fondly on the things we loved and cherished with a softened heart. Whether any of that stuff holds up today is another thing, but the fact that we look back on what we loved with a certain fondness is all we need.
One cartoon/toyline I loved in the magical time of the mid-1980s, when Rainbow Brite’s magic, Jem and the Holograms’ music, and She-Ra’s heroics reigned supreme, was the Japanese slice-of-life cartoon Maple Town. As a four-year-old, I would watch the episodes on Nickelodeon in the mornings, during the time block that would later become Nick Jr.
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It Brags About Being “My Favorite Place To Be!”
Maple Town tells the stories of the residents of Maple Town – anthropomorphic animals living in the eponymous Utopian city, set in Canada in the 1920s.
The stories center around Patty Rabbit, her friend Bobby Bear, their families, and other residents. Each episode was fully animated, with the exception of bookending segments featuring the human Mrs. Maple, a live-action character who doesn’t figure into the storylines at all, but instead introduced and concluded each episode.
I should also note that Mrs. Maple’s other job meant dressing as a giant Cockatoo on Zoobilee Zoo.
No seriously, that’s the same actress!
In addition to that coincidence, Maple Town also had a super catchy theme song!
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Maple Town aired on Canada’s YTV, and in the United States in both syndication (briefly) and on Nickelodeon from January 1986 until January 1987, and continuing to do so on both Nickelodeon and CBN’s Family Channel (later The Family Channel) until 1990.
Your Favorite Place To Be…Is Also Your Favorite Toy!
During that time, Tonka held the license for the toyline, with a line of small dolls (sold as family sets), vehicles, and buildings being manufactured and sold in 1987.
The toyline stuck around as long as the series did in the United States. There was a similar toyline/cartoon called Sylvanian Families which came out of Japan about a year before Maple Town, and still continue today as Calico Critters.
I never owned any Sylvanian Families toys; for me, it was Maple Town.
I saw these in Toys R Us in the mid-2000s and shouted “knock offs!”
So What Did Allison Have To Recreate Maple Town?
Well for one thing, a bunch of the little dolls, which wasn’t hard since they came as family sets. My favorite family was the Rabbit Family (Hopperabbit), which consisted of main protagonist Patty, Marcel, Christine, Ann, and Mick.
My absolute favorite character on Maple Town was Patty Rabbit, which is probably why I liked her family by association.
I also had the Kumanoff family (Bobby Bear’s family), as well as the Dog and Cat families. My memory of which other ones I had beyond that gets a bit foggy. I’m pretty sure I had Miss Deer, since I had this really cool playset…
I LOVED my Maple Town School set! This was the only playset building I had, so I played school with my Maple Town families/children. I was fascinated with the style of this school house – it had a working bell, and that chalkboard was super cute. For a kid who’d never been to school (I was four years old at the time, so this was before Kindergarten and Pre-School) this was a fun way of picturing what school was like!
I also had the playground set, and that scooter!
The climbing/lookout-type piece of equipment always confused me, but I used it for what I believed it was meant for…for my Maple Town kids to climb and look out from.
Sure, life in Maple Town (even the life I created while playing with my toys) was fun and games…until it wasn’t.
Patty Rabbit’s “Accident”
So, as I said, my favorite of all my Maple Town toys was Patty Rabbit. I’m not really sure why, but I loved this doll the best. Unfortunately, she was the subject of a little accident.
I poked one of Patty Rabbit’s eyes out – or, rather, in.
I knocked one of those beady eyes into the belly of my toy. This seriously happened!
I was devastated. As I said, I was four years old when I got my Maple Town toys, and the idea of knocking the eye out/in of my favorite character was upsetting! But, leave it to my mom (who gets major “mom saving the day” points for this), she figured out how to fix the problem, even though the eye couldn’t be retrieved (you could hear the plastic eye just shaking around in Patty’s belly!).
She drew around the empty eye socket with a black pen.
I kid you not. Black ballpoint stick pen, carefully tracing around the empty eye socket. That saved the day for a four-year-old with a doll who lost their eye in a freak “poking into the body” accident! Patty Rabbit went from “Oh no!” to “She’s whole again!” with my mom’s quick thinking. I know it sounds ridiculous, but this is one of those things we give our parents way too much credit for once we’re adults (or maybe it’s just me that does that?).
I’ve told her about the incident involving the doll, and I’m found the story funny. I laugh at it now, so many years later, but back then, it was a day maker. Those little things mean the world to me. Even though I don’t have kids, I would gladly do something like that if it meant my nieces or nephew didn’t get upset about an unfortunate “calamity” to befall one of their toys, because I’m an aunt and we do stuff like that too.
Thirty-some-odd years later, I’m thirty-seven years old and married, and I’m still thanking my mom for things like this!
Oh, and speaking of thirty-some-odd-years later…
Still Can’t Wait To Get To Maple Town?
Maple Town (as well as its competitor, Sylvanian Families and the various incarnations of this concept over the years) live on in the online marketplace world, as indicated by this eBay listing (current as of this writing on November 8, 2019), with dolls, vehicles, furniture, houses, and even the school getting life in a world of nostalgic feelings and beloved toys.
Was Maple Town your favorite place to be?
Oh, and I made sure to text my mom about the “Patty Rabbit Accident,” which she apparently remembers.
I’m sure five of you care.