The greatest children's toy in the world
October 25, 2004 5:04 AM   Subscribe

The greatest children's toy in the world? A railway run largely by children aged 10-14 with full sized trains. The Hungarian one is perhaps the best known, but there are others in the former soviet republics.
posted by biffa (16 comments total)
Nike has a terrific children's playland where they get to make our shoes.
posted by rcade at 5:46 AM on October 25, 2004

Great post biffa.
posted by ginz at 6:44 AM on October 25, 2004

Was it really necessary to dump all over a charming post with a cheap, off-topic joke, rcade?

This is interesting, biffa. I bet a lot of adult railway enthusiasts would love to get a chance to do the things these kids do. What I didn't notice in the Hungarian link is how it gets run while the children are supposed to be in school, since it seems to have a pretty extensive schedule .
posted by jacquilynne at 7:12 AM on October 25, 2004

I was wondering about how schooling fits with the railway myself jacquilynne, but couldn't find anything about it.

Here is an archive of photos that I came across while trying to dig something up though.
posted by biffa at 7:44 AM on October 25, 2004

I thought it was amusing to see them making a tourist attraction out of Soviet bloc communist child labor, jacquilynne. Those are not normally things that you'd expect to be charming.
posted by rcade at 7:55 AM on October 25, 2004

I see nothing in your link to suggest the kind of child labour exploitation you're implying.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:02 AM on October 25, 2004

posted by rcade at 8:03 AM on October 25, 2004

jacquilynne is talking about your first comment rcade. Didn't make much sense to me either.

Schooling could fit in fine. Depends a bit on the system. I don't know anything about Hungarian schools, but most of our "VMBO" pupils (15 - 16 year olds) in the Netherlands work a day in the week as a traineeship.

From the site: The engines are driven by adult engineers, and children on duty, are continuously supervised by adult railway employees.
posted by ginz at 8:38 AM on October 25, 2004

I'm talking about both of his comments, ginz. The first one links to information on third world child exploitation, implying that these railroads are a manifestation of that same phenomenon. As near as I can tell from rcade's comments, the second one is supposed to be a direct link between child exploitation and these railroads, but I just don't get it. His second link basically says what the original post did - that the railroads were run as a training/hobby activity for communist youth corps. If the argument was they were meant to indoctrinate children into the party line, that I could understand, but the implication that they were slave labour I just don't see.

I think rcade may be trying to make an actual ha-ha funny joke, and I've been whooshed by it, but I'm really just not getting it at all.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:55 AM on October 25, 2004

Lovely stuff, thanks biffa!
posted by carter at 8:56 AM on October 25, 2004

All I was attempting to do here was enjoy the cognitive dissonance of an old Soviet bloc tourist attraction that celebrates the fun side of child labor.

In Hungary, kids working on a train a couple of times a month is a highly prized reward they strive for in school. In Vietnam, kids work 14 hour days on $120 American sneakers.

To me, that's more interesting than the railfan stuff. It wasn't a cynical attempt to crap all over the thread.
posted by rcade at 9:42 AM on October 25, 2004

You might be getting a bit carried away here rcade.

Hungarians never were much of a bloc for the Soviets and I sincerely doubt they ever saw a sun side to child labour.

But if I lived in Hungary, I would definitely want to work on that train. No school! Yay.
posted by ginz at 10:14 AM on October 25, 2004

Yup, I'd pay *them* to work on a railway and skip school ...
posted by carter at 10:42 AM on October 25, 2004

If my son sees this, he'll be packing our bags for Budapest.
posted by bashos_frog at 9:55 PM on October 25, 2004

Well, if I wanted to ride the Hungarian version, I would take the red metro and the #54 bus I can be at Csillaghegy and get on the Pioneer Railway in about forty minutes from where I live. Except it doesn't run after October 15th...

It ain't Child Labor, it's more like the Railways Worker's Union version of the cub scouts. There are adults supervising everything, but it really is run by kids, and my little son loves to go for rides on it - it basically goes to nowhere, but through some lovely parks.
posted by zaelic at 2:08 AM on October 26, 2004

Yet one more thing to chalk up on my must see when I leave the country list.
posted by Mitheral at 9:01 AM on October 26, 2004

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