I’ll be honest with you. When I first got a dual sport motorcycle in 2009, I rankled at the notion that I had just bought myself a big ol’ toy. 

“My good man!” I would protest all defensively. “I use this finely tuned machine to ferret out news in my capacity as a journalist. It’s not a toy, it’s a very important tool of the job.” 

But come on. Who was I kidding? The bulk of my time sitting atop the Suzuki DR650 was spent blasting through giant puddles and harrowingly deep mud holes. I used it some to prowl the streets of downtown Lewiston, sure, but more often I was out in the puckerbrush, climbing rocky hills, getting stuck in swamps, exploring trails that were barley trails at all. 

The fact that I named the Suzuki “El Mechon” is a pretty strong hint that this is more plaything than utility vehicle and ultimately I admitted it openly: I had gone out and bought a giant toy for myself, and brother, there’s no shame in that. 

We’re in a weird age where it feels like calamity is always just around the next corner. Pandemics, political strife, an uncertain economy . . . If we don’t have something — a toy, a gadget, a doohickey or a contraption — to occupy our minds now and then, why we might go collectively mad and there’s no fun in that at all. 

What’s the definition of an adult toy?  


“An adult toy is anything that has little practical use, but if it gives you joy to have and you can play with it with others,” it’s a toy, says Wayne Heyward of Sabattus. “On the other hand, it CAN be something of practical use, but you find less practical uses for it, just for the excuse to play with it. ‘Are you SURE you don’t have any trees I can cut down with my new chainsaw? Can I cut them down anyway?'” 

Daniel Tanguay of Lewiston has a different take. 

“The one good thing about being an adult,” he says, “you can now get the cool toys you couldn’t as a kid. I get to have my firearms collection, without the ‘you can put an eye out with that’ speech. I get to have a boat and enough tackle to stock a local bait shop. We may get older but we’re still kids at heart. Heck, I even bought a stunt kite because it’s fun. If we didn’t let loose a little as adults, well life would be depressing now wouldn’t it. In my neighborhood there’s even a bunch of adults with the coolest gas-powered remote control cars I’ve ever seen. Kind of makes me want one.” 

You can go online and read a million articles with lofty, psychological explanations as to why adults need playtime, too, but to us, that sounds more like school work than good clean fun. Instead of going all egghead on the matter, we simply asked our readers about their favorite toys and about the giddy joy it brings them. 

Russ Keith’s 3D printer. Submitted photo

A Maltese falcon created with Russ Keith’s 3D printer. Submitted photo

3D PRINTER PLAY: Russ Keith, Lewiston 

“I guess you might call it a toy, but I have a 3D printer. Sadly, I haven’t had much time to play with it lately, but it’s come in handy on a couple of occasions. I redesigned some door latches for a cabinet. The originals didn’t hold the doors shut well enough. I also made some plugs for another cabinet that had holes in the back for power cables to pass through. I’ve made some other trinkets for the fun of it, like a miniature statue of the Maltese falcon. Depending on the model you get, it could be rather cheap, under $200. The filament is generally around $20. There are other small tools you can pick up rather cheaply. The only other piece of equipment you’d probably need is a dehydrator. There’s plenty of free software to get the CAD files to the printer. 


“There was a guy that was really into it at the place I used to work for. We needed some parts printed and I think he got a little annoyed at having to do it for us and he started teaching me. I was already interested in it because of my mechanical engineering background. It’s definitely an interesting hobby and not nearly as easy as some think. There’s still a lot of things that can go wrong and troubleshooting them can be frustrating.” 

Jessie Chartier on her Can-Am Outlander. Not muddy enough. Submitted photo

4-WHEELING WILDNESS: Jessie Chartier, Freeport 

“Can-Am Outlander. I can sum it up in one word: therapeutic! Anyone who rides 4-wheelers will say the same. Something about being out with nature just releases all the negative energy.  As the saying goes, if you can still see the color of the wheeler, you’re not muddy enough. This was a day I needed to get my mind off the anniversary of my 3- year-old son’s death. So went riding through the mud.” 

TANKS FOR THE FUN: Michael Shostak, Minot 

“I refer to it as my ‘adult toy.’ It is a 1:16-scale remote control tank and weighs about 10 pounds. It has a fully articulated torsion bar suspension. It shoots Airsoft pellets from the main gun, and the whole thing recoils when the main gun is fired. Sound effects include the bow machine gun firing, the roar of the main gun and engine and it makes smoke, as well. Wicked fun!” 

One of Kevin Cunningham’s smokers. Submitted photo

GRILL GRATIFICATION: Kevin Cunningham, former chef of Lewiston 


“Some guys call themselves men because they can man a grill. A real man can cook with a smoker.  

“Stick smokers are old-school and are the most labor intensive. You have to sit there with your beverage of choice and add one or two bits of wood every 20-30 minutes. These are for men that want to spend as little time as possible with their family for a day, only to roll into the kitchen two hours late for supper drunk as a skunk with perfect ribs or the king of smoked meats, a beef brisket.

“Pellet smokers are the yuppy version of that. You read the instructions, fill it with some specialty blend of pellets, then rub the meat with a rub they bought online from the latest flash-in-the-pan place, and take 200 pictures to share on every social media platform.  

“Then there are gas smokers that shouldn’t even be called smokers. They’re just gas ovens that you set off some wood chips in . . . . They have electric ones that are about the same.

“I have owned and do own all three. They have uses. The gas one I use to keep (food) warm from time to time. The pellet ones — I have three — are so I can spend time with my family and guests and sleep at night. The stick smokers are the workhorses of the restaurant and make the best food. They take actual skill and spit out man cards like a ski ball machine. You’ll probably be late for dinner and drunk as hell, but man that food is good.” 

CARE-FREE CARTING: Gil Steward, Auburn 


“Our favorite adult toy is a golf cart; as a matter of fact we have two of them, one here in Auburn and one upta camp. Our dog, a dachshund, loves to ride on the cart — we live on a dead-end dirt road and take it out daily. The one at camp, well that’s a different story: Between all the camps up on the Carrabassett River in New Portland, we have a right-of-way that follows the river and another that is closer to the road. . . . We have all kinds of real estate to ride on, we all know each other at the camps and we all get along great . . . . Most of us are retired and them that aren’t are weekend warriors. We cruise on our carts with Sugarloaf golf cart stickers on them and never swung a club. But that’s OK because we’ll be looking for who’s going to have a fire in the fire pit tonight for cocktail hour and beyond. And when the music’s over, we get in our carts, turn on the lights and at breakneck speeds of maybe 5  or 6 mph, head back to camp. That’s the way life should be in Maine.” 

Jon Lizotte of Lewiston with his ’57 Ford Fairlane 500 Submitted photo

‘RACING FUEL IN MY BLOOD’: Jon Lizotte, Lewiston

“I raced at Oxford for over 50 years. I won over a hundred races and six championships. I still have race cars — my son and his friend drive them. I’ve worked on N Cup and Xfinity teams over the years. I’ve crew chiefed for several top drivers over the years — besides 25 years in the Auburn Fire Department. I think I have a bad habit with my toys. I’ve got racing fuel in my blood. My wife says I have too many toys. Oh yeah — I play golf too.”


“One of my hobbies is building WWII amphibious craft from scratch — from scratch. . . . Not kit-building, but creating a model from basic material, using one’s intelligence and skills. It is indeed challenging at times, especially when it requires, at times, the use of material used many years ago and unavailable today. The created model may not be a masterpiece (in the eyes of) a lot of kit model builders, but to those of us who are old-timers, who cares? I do have some 30 un-built plastic and resin kits. I will admit that I find these uninteresting, though someday I might just build them. Don’t hold your breath on this one, bud.

Doug Rogers’ model of a World War II era amphibious vehicle. Submitted photo

“I am a member of Downeast Shipmodelers Guild. I have not attended a meeting since the ongoing pandemic, but have previously participated in the guild’s activities. I have exhibited scratch-built models at Owl’s Head Transportation Museum as well as Maine Maritime Museum.


“My interest in WWII amphibious craft harks back to my father serving in the Navy at Iwo Jima and Okinawa on amphibious communications ships and my stepfather serving on an LSMR . . . ship. I have been able to go aboard a number of WWII amphibious crafts in recent years. One of my childhood activities was playing army (actually, marine and navy) with plastic dime-store toys, though I did build amphibious craft from orange crates — orange crates in the pre-plastic (age) though.

“As a kid I subscribed to a number of most excellent magazines: Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, etc. in which were found amazing, how-to-build most anything (articles). In recent years, I found, online, two 1945 Popular Mechanics magazines with details of how to build an LVT (Landing Vehicle Tracked) and also a “Quac,” an amphibious Jeep.

“I have my old plastic 1950s military toys all ready, but have yet to build a sandbox — what would the neighbors think, a big kid making such a fuss and all?”

RC CRUSH: Patrick Acord, Poland 

“I got into the RC (radio-controlled) car hobby about three months ago after I was given the rolling chassis of a Traxxas Stampede 4×4. It’s a 1/10 scale off-road bashing RC truck. It needed a lot of work. I started by replacing the motor with an upgraded brushless motor and from there it was repair and replace almost every trip out to run it. The new power of the brushless motor tore the drive train apart and showed

Patrick Acord’s radio-controlled car. Submitted photo

all of the truck’s weaknesses. Piece by piece I replaced everything and built a 57 mph on/off-road beast. These are not the toys of my childhood by any means. I remember using all the batteries I could find just to get 10 minutes of run time. Now they have  rechargeable Lipo (lithium polymer) battery packs that pour out incredible amounts of power into tiny precision-built RC cars/trucks.


“I recently decided to build a buggy-style RC from the ground up. After many hours of research and even more sourcing parts and building, I was able to build a custom Traxxas Bandit that currently goes 70 mph plus. You can upgrade anything and everything on these RCs for the most part. Everything from transmission and gearing to motors, shocks, driveshafts, steering links, bodies, tires and you name it. If you’re mechanically minded and love to tinker, this is the hobby for you! It’s fun filled and when your ripping along the drag strip at 70 mph it gets the blood flowing just knowing that one tiny mistake could end your run or even completely destroy your RC.

“They can be converted from street machines to off-road racers or sand racers in a matter of minutes so the fun doesn’t stop at the pavement or the dirt. It’s not the cheapest hobby to get into, but there are plenty of ready-to-run offerings out there for below $400 to get into the hobby. It’s a ton of fun and provides smiles for miles every time I’m out racing it. Always draws a crowd.”

One of Greg Lambert’s Lego masterpieces. Submitted photo

MEGA LEGO PASSION: Greg Lambert, Lewiston 

“I first started my love for Legos when I was 8 years old. I love the way you can literally build anything — bet you couldn’t have guessed I became an engineer. Over the years I have collected dozens of sets, which equates to tens of thousands of individual Lego pieces. I have sets that you can’t even find anymore. I adore them so much that as soon as my kids were old enough to not choke on them I started buying them some for Christmas. At my last house I had to build a separate room just for my Legos. In my new house I am planning an addition so I can build an even bigger room for my Lego obsession. I truly love to just sit and build, I could do it for hours. It’s peaceful and satisfying. The majority of my collection is batman, Star Wars and technic. I also have robotic Legos and even have a Lego coffee mug.” 

DIVERSE DELIGHTS: Janet Nadeau Briggs, Greene 

“Jet skis and kayaks so far. Shopping for an e-bike, and play pinball when I get a chance. Last time was at Surf Six in OOB. I also have a pontoon boat. I’m 64 years young and enjoy doing things with my grandchildren — and without. We took our 7-year-old grandson for a ride to Old Orchard Beach and ended up eating at Surf 6. Then, of course, the arcade games caught his eye. I played a lot of pinball when I was younger — found out I’ve still got it: My grandson was surprised.   


“Kayaks are a fun way to spend time on the lake and see the loons, eagles, and other wildlife up close. Jet skis are not for the faint of heart.  The family took turns going out on them last weekend and reports were that everyone was sore the next day, including the younger kids.”  

Matt Prince’s radio-controlled plane. Submitted photo

RADIO-CONTROLLED FLYING FUN: Matt Prince, airplane captain, formerly of Sabattus 

“I’ve got a small fleet of radio-controlled airplanes. Nothing says Christmas 1980 more than a gallon of nitromethane fuel, a 24-volt battery that heats a glow plug to 1,400 degrees to start a tiny two-stroke engine with sharpened blades. The Cox U-Control P-40 got me hooked, but now the engines and parts are rare and no longer made. Most everything modern is electric. I’ve got several of those in varying stages of crash repair.” 

MUSIC, MERRIMENT & MONEY: Jim Palmer, New Auburn 

“My toy is a 1963 Fender Jazz Bass with a 2016 Fender Rumble 500-watt amplifier. These toys make money for me because I know how to use them.”

One of Bill Lepack’s model cars in mid-reno. Submitted photo



“I build plastic models. I modify the hell out of them. Cutting open doors on cars, swivel seats, spark plug wires. Can’t build straight from the box. I paint all the details on airplane interiors and then cover up all that work when I glue the fuselages together. Don’t care.” 

Lepack also has a train set in a state of disrepair. He plans to get the trains moving again real soon. 

“I started building it in the ’90s,” he says. “My sons tore the wires out from under it when they were very young. I didn’t mind but I got busy with work and such, so it was never rebuilt. I’m retired now and will probably get back to work on it.” 

ROUTER RECREATION: Dave Chamberlain, former Lewiston police lieutenant 

A sign rolling off Dave Chamberlain’s CNC router. Submitted photo

Chamberlain says his favorite toy is his collection of woodworking tools, which includes a massive computer-controlled CNC router. Chamberlain may consider it a toy, but the fact is that others benefit from his woodworking play, including the Knights of Columbus, for whom he recently made 73 tables to give away to kids who did not have a place to study.  

“I’m not getting rich monetarily,” Chamberlain says, “but I am enriched by the process.” 


The Knights of Columbus were so impressed with Chamberlain’s toy, they produced a film about him. 

“If something involves wood, it very likely involves David Chamberlain,” according to the video. “When the COVID-19 pandemic restricted children in his community of Lithia Springs, Georgia, to remote learning, David wanted to help. A gifted woodworker, he gathered 15 brother Knights to build desks for children to be able to properly do their schoolwork from home. The Knights distributed the desks to many grateful families, making a difference in many children’s lives. David believes that everyone has a talent from God, and thus it is our duty to share that gift with those in need.” 

Cynthia Marquis Parent’s Polaris Razor 900. Submitted photo

ALL-TERRAIN ACTION: Cynthia Parent, Poland Spring

Parent was quick and to the point about her toy: “ATV: The Polaris Razor (RZR) 900. Get dirty going fast.”

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