Why kids like knights and soldiers

I’ve got a bit of a drunk groove on at the moment, so I’d like to share that with you while you read this blog. Grab a glass of classy red plonk and listen to the following:

Good.

So. Anyone who follows me on Twitter or w/e will know that my avatar is a Lego centurion with specs. I have a cubic brick-shaped place in my heart for the building blocks. I recently went and bought a Lego Star Wars advent calendar (get them now, kids, they’re in high demand) and it was the best £25 I have spent in recent years. The weekend before that I went to the Great Western Brick Show, and hung out with the guys at Brick to the Past, who I have previously interviewed for this very blog. So yeah, that *kids* thing in the title also applies to fully grown people.

Ross Wittenham

One of my strongest memories from childhood is of playing with a set of Playmobil  jousting knights. Which is really meta, if you think about it; a kid playing with toys of men, who are playing at warfare. Just me? Well, anyway, somewhere along the line, I thought it might be an interesting idea to dissect that whole knight-in-shining-armour fascination.

The first topic must, necessarily, be violence. People are obsessed with the thought of damaging one another, even if that only manifests itself very rarely. We are a destructive race, and kids especially. Part of that is simply because it is easier to destroy that it is to create, and the other part is that kids haven’t really developed their creative skills. Seriously, the things I saw at the Great Western Brick Show took serious thought and artistry. More concentration than most kids would be able to muster.

Lego Victorian London
My picture doesn’t do justice to Brick to the Past’s Lego Victorian London

However, you’ll also notice the relative lack of weapons in this picture. In the whole metres-long build there were only five (5) soldiers. So this is definitely something that people (mostly) grow out of.

One definite part of the fascination is all about costumes. Kids have imaginations that can turn a stick into a plethora of things, but the more props you give them, the deeper the fantasy gets. Armoured soldiers have the ultimate combination of costume and accessories, along with a distinctly defined role. You get a sword or an axe and you go out and defend your city. It’s the best thing in the world. Don’t get me wrong, princesses may have better costumes, but their exact function is way more vague. You can’t smite things if you’re a princess, can you? (Can you?)

The other side of things is that soldiery is an active thing. Beyond sportsing, fighting is one of the most active things you can do as a kid. You’re being really active with another person. Not like running, or its ilk. Toys are all well and good, but no self-respecting kid is just gonna build something and then leave it for people to admire. They want to have little people interacting, because that’s what playing is; figuring out how people interact, and why.

The booze seems to be wearing off, so I’ll stop now. Please let me know what your thoughts on the topic are though. Ross out.

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