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Haitian Toys

Models of American military might
A Smithsonian employee visiting Haiti purchased these toy models on a street corner in Port au Prince in 1994. Such replicas of U.S. military vehicles began to appear in September of that year, soon after real American tanks, helicopters, and jeeps arrived in the island as part of a United Nations effort to restore democracy. These particular models were made by three young men from juice bottles, soft drink and beer cans, and other discarded items. The helicopter sold for between five and 10 Haitian dollars, and the large, flag-carrying tank with the ballpoint-pen rockets about 25 dollars. Anticipating their country's return to more peaceful times, some young model-makers began beating their swords into plowshares and switched from making tanks to flower pots made of old soda cans.

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Learn more!
· "Hands-on Toys" by Paul Trachtman, "Smithsonian" Magazine, December 1997

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