It was bound to happen. All was going far too well with the #JHUMAKESTOYS challenge. Viking ships set sail! Zippy little race cars were created! But then the toy model village arrived, and the toymaker curse was upon us. The toy model village was beset with disaster from the start. Rulers were needed! Fractions made a ghastly appearance in the instructions. No suitable twigs for the village trees could be found. Clearly, the creepy doll, upset that an army of her kin had yet to rise up, cursed the construction of the model village. Indeed, feral cats managed to halt the construction, or so I heard.  Thus far, only two village buildings have avoided the fate of the Curse of the Creepy Doll.

Toy house made out of cardboard
The first home constructed, by order of Mr. Rags the Dog.
Two toy houses made from cardboard
A village fit for dogs and flamingos.

Curses? Model villages under attack by feral cats? Do you have your face mask on too tight, alleged librarian? No, it’s all good!  Special Collections recently acquired a charming set of instructional toymaker cards created by the illustrator Helen Angus. The cards most likely date to the early 1930s and were meant to provide children with afternoons of fun by making toys from common and inexpensive household objects.  Since we all could use a bit of whimsy in our lives right now, we would like to invite you to participate in our #JHUMakesToys Challenge!

Interested in becoming a vintage toymaker? Here’s the scoop:

  • Follow @jhuspecialcollections to see the challenges as soon as they are released.
  • Tag your photo with #JHUMakesToys.
  • Challenges will be announced weekly on Fridays from April 3 through May 15.
  • Each week shall be a new chance for internet fame and glory!
  • Please note that we may share your wonderful creations on Johns Hopkins social media channels.

This week, we are entering the final #JHUMAKESTOYS challenge, and it shall be quite a grand finale! We will be constructing Noah’s Ark and all the cute little animals that shall voyage in it!  Toys representing Noah’s Ark were very popular throughout North America and Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  While the toys initially served a religious educational purpose, they were also cherished simply because of the number of animal figurines one could add to the set. Just imagine the fun of having little elephants and giraffes to play with in a world devoid of Animal Crossing! However, our preeminent canine curator, Mr. Rags, has requested that any cat figurines be replaced with dignified Cairn-Schnauzer mixes.  Interested in joining this week’s challenge? Here are the instructions!

Instructions for making toys of Noah and his animals