[Young Architect]. Enterprise "Red Star"

[Young Architect]. [Soviet Architectural Blocks]

Mozhga, Udmurt Republic, Russia: " " [Enterprise "Red Star"], c.1980. Manufacturer's coated paper-covered oblong box (measures 9.75" 13.75" x 2"), color-illustrated label mounted to lid exterior, pictorially stamped label mounted to lid interior, 65 wooden blocks in various shapes and sizes, some stamped in black.

"I hope the Russians love their children too" (Sting, "Russians"). Set of wooden architectural blocks for children. With a total of 65 separate blocks in the shapes of trees, houses and sectional units for creating office buildings and factories, the set appears to model a town not dissimilar from Mozhga, its place of manufacture, a small city in west-central Russia built in the 19th century around a glass works, and still a hub for small industrial-handicraft production. Toys intended to develop functional skills (think Erector Sets, chemistry sets, etc.) are commonplace in all cultures and eras, but there's a particular resonance to the idealized uniform collectivity modeled in this simple playset, made during the late-stage Cold War, a time when children no longer practiced nuclear blast preparedness drills in school, but lived with an accelerated mordant certainty of imminent apocalypse. In that light, toys such as this might be seen to have been designed with not just political but subliminal intent, to make good Soviet citizens, yes, but also to negate the horrors of mutual assured destruction. "In the Soviet Union, as in many other societies, childhood was never isolated from ideology but a prime site for ideological intervention. It had routine encounters with politics because the state attempted to raise children as political subjects" (International Journal of Cultural Studies, 2019, Vol. 22). The printed label to the box lid's interior depicts the various pieces, with their names and quantities. The present set is missing several blocks, but also appears to have an excess of other blocks that are, nonetheless, uniform with the set overall. Stamped "Made In Russia" to upper lid (possibly for export?). Some wear and tape repair to box. A very good if incomplete playset, evocative of a variety of childhoods lost. Item #4455


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