Herald/MARIANNE LIJEWSKI - Justice Fettig, 16 months, peeks through the door of a playhouse Saturday at the “Toyland” exhibit at the Bell County Museum in Belton.

By Danielle Church

Killeen Daily Herald

BELTON - A life-sized replica of the popular 1945 racing board game Candyland takes museum-goers on a journey through time of American toys at the Bell County Museum.

The museum opened its newest exhibit, "Toyland," last week. It includes toy dolls of the early 1900s and 1960 G.I. Joe action figures.

"(It's) very interactive," Museum Director Stephanie Turnham said of the exhibit, which features wall paintings of Candyland's recognizable winding, linear track of colorful spaces, allowing children to participate in their own game and help guide them through the exhibit.

Turnham said the object of the game is to get the children to "Toyland," a carpeted section of the exhibit filled with lots of fun toys for them to play with and a life-sized doll house.

Suzy Tindell of Salado was able to relive her childhood Saturday as she toured the exhibit with her 16-month-old daughter, Justice, and her 9-year-old son, Jacob.

"I think it's really awesome," she said. "I collect old toys, so it's really fun for me, too."

Tindell walked over to one of the many displays that housed early gaming equipment. She showed her son the Commodore 64, an 8-bit home computer released in 1982, and explained to him that before modern gaming systems such as Xbox and Wii, systems like these were used to play video games.

Jacob played an Atari game and told his mom, "I like it because it's old and fun."

A collection of vintage toy commercials from the 1950s through the '70s played on a television set, featuring major toy manufacturers such as Mattel, Ideal, Remco and Hasbro.

A wall plaque at the start of the exhibit explains the overall focus of toys' impact on children.

"Early in the 20th century, parents believed that children's play could lead to happy, well-adjusted adults," it reads. "Realistic play activities, like playing with dolls or playing with toy trains, gave children the opportunity to practice their future roles as mothers and working men."

Other toys on display include vintage Barbie dolls, tea sets, tricycles and other board games.

Turnham said the exhibit runs through Dec. 31. During the holiday season, the museum plans to participate in the Santa Pal program, allowing patrons to offer toy donations.

Contact Danielle Church at dchurch@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7567.

If you go

What: "Toyland" museum exhibit

When: Ends Dec. 31

Where: Bell County Museum, 201 N. Main St., Belton

Hours: Noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday

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