Rollin’ with his homies
The toys in Wareham Boys and Girls Club director Kenny Fontes’ office aren’t just fun to play with — he also thinks they can teach kids a valuable lesson.
“I have every single toy in a collection. If I saw the new ones come out next week, I would immediately buy them,” said Fontes as he looked at his 580 two-inch plastic collectible Homies figurines, all standing on an 8-foot self-made wooden shelf in his office.
Introduced in the year of 1998, Homies toys represented various Chicano Mexican American characters and were initially sold in grocery store vending machines. Ten years ago, Marc Anthony's La Pizzeria in Onset became a beloved place for Fonte’s kids to spend their quarters for the themed figurines.
“My kids collected about 75 of these Homies, and if they got the same, they traded them with other kids,” said Fontes. “But after a while, they got bored and didn’t want to spend their quarters anymore.”
Fontes continued his kids’ tradition and pursued to collect the rest of the toys. After dropping coins in the slot of several vending machines and browsing through the internet stories, he completed his collection a year later.
Rather than keeping them at his house, where “only [him], [his] wife and kids can see it,” Fontes keeps the collection in his main office at the Boys and Girls Club. He believes the toys serve as a “conversation piece” for kids and adults, who also admire his collection.
Homies toys come in small, themed packs, including cheerleaders, baseball players, and policemen. While collectors tend to keep related toys together, Fontes mixed them up to convey to the kids at the Boys and Girls club the importance of diversity and cross-cultural amity.
“I tell the children that these toys represent different kids that come to the Boys and Girls Club: white, black, different hairstyles, different outfit choices. Kids see them and see that everybody stays together despite being different from one another,” said Fontes. “We are all mixed up in this community, but all ethnicities can get along with each other.”