When I was a kid, I saw Bambi in the theater.
Two girls in the row in front of me had plastic Bambi & Thumper toys arranged on the arms of their seats.
I remember this vividly, more than thirty years later, because they were possibly the most beautiful things I’d ever seen…
You have to remember, back in the 80s, kids couldn’t just watch Bambi over & over again. It wasn’t streamable. Maybe you could get a picture book retelling of it, but you couldn’t even buy the really expensive VHS most years, because Disney’s always been kind of a jerk company.
So, these little plastic toys represented keeping the magic of Bambi alive after the movie was over. I wouldn’t have described it that way as a kid… I just really, really, really wanted them.
So my mom asked their mom, and apparently they were McDonalds happy meal toys.
My family doesn’t really like McDonalds, but we went there right after the movie. My sister and I each got a Thumper. The ethereally beautiful Bambi toys though… gone forever. Unavailable.
I treasured that Thumper.
Somewhere along the way, my little sister lost her Thumper. Years later, when she was having a hard time, I gave her mine to cheer her up.
My sister and I aren’t in touch right now. Though I occasionally hear about her materialistic purges, getting rid of all her old toys… grr.
Anyway, I recently started writing a new book — The Reindeer Queen — about a deer raised by rabbits. (Disney may be a jerk, but I’m still deeply influenced by the old cartoon Lambert the Sheepish Lion.)
I like to put thematically related toys on my desk to serve as tiny muses…
I looked into it and was able to get both a Thumper & Bambi from ebay.
When they arrived, they looked like the cheapest, ugliest plastic junk.
Then I saw them through the eyes of the small child who would’ve given anything to have them…
I love them so much.