“Toy World”: How An Almost Infinite Soap Opera Changed Television Forever

There is no child who grew up in Mexico in the 70s and 80s, who does not know what “Toy World” is or that he does not remember the chords of his musical theme (performed, incredibly, by Lupita D’Alessio herself) or that he does not remember his protagonist, Cristina Salinas, interpreted in a mythological way by Graciela Mauri.

Logo of the telenovela Mundo de Toy (Courtesy)

Being the first original Televisa production in a telenovela format aimed at children, this version of the Argentine radio drama (later adapted to TV) of “Daddy Heart”, was created by the prolific Abel Santacruz and production was entrusted to Valentine Pimstein, who in turn, told his adapter, the legendary Luis Reyes de la Maza, which had a wide sleeve to take the central plot created by Santacruz, and from there, it was adapting as it pleased. Always focused on childhood adventures, since they did not have a fixed time to close the soap opera: it was an experiment, and As long as it generated ratings and advertising sales, they would keep it on the air, as happened with the American soap operas, which were broadcast in that format.

In this way, from November 4, 1974 to December 1977, “Toy world” remained fixed at the 6 o’clock in the afternoon, when the children had already finished the task and could see the daily episodes, which were at first almost entirely devoted to toy advertising, until noticing that mothers and grandmothers watched with the children the adventures and misadventures of the little girl, Supermarkets, food and candy, and even shoe lines and school supplies began to be advertised.

This had never happened before on Mexican television and for the same reason, the serial stayed on the air for a long time after the main anecdote was told, while the members of its cast maintained a steady job, entering the homes of millions of viewers late to late.

The story revolves around Cristina Salinas (Graciela Mauri), who is almost 6 years old in the first chapter. She is a charming girl, orphaned by a mother, who lives as an intern in a school run by nuns. His father, Mariano (the great Peruvian actor Ricardo Blume), to recover from his widowhood, he travels on a cruise ship where he is tied up by an unscrupulous con artist named Patricia (Cristina Rubiales, who is aunt of Angela Aguilar, by the way) who wants to commit him to marry her, with the plan of sending Cristina to a boarding school abroad and thus separating father and daughter forever.

But Cristina is not alone: ​​she has the love and protection of her uncles Benito (Javier marc) and Mercedes (Iran Eory); he is Mariano’s brother and is a priest, linked to the boarding school, while she is an elegant, sensational and vivacious millionaire, who makes sure that her niece is sure that she is loved and is not abandoned. Other important characters are Pedro, the faithful butler of the family (Eduardo Alcaráz), who is resourceful and protective, as well as Polo Balboa, the endearing, affectionate and complicit boyfriend of Aunt Mercedes, who is an unconditional friend for Cristina (You would not believe it, but this model of virtue was interpreted by the now expert villain Enrique Rocha).

For her part, at the Cristina school she has the support and guidance of Mother Superior (the legendary actress Gloria Marin), of the eccentric and reckless Sister Carmela (Evita Muñoz “Chachita“) and above all, of the charming novice who is his kindergarten teacher, Rosario (an iconic work by Irma Lozano, the virginal queen of the Mexican screen for many years) who is secretly in love with Mariano. Realizing this, Cristina will make all kinds of occurrences so that her father breaks up with the wicked Patricia and marries the nun.

Obviously this happens, but things went on and on, so virtually everyone paraded through the soap opera, from the legendary Augusto Benedico Y Andrea Palma, until then debutants like Laura Zapata, María Sorté and Leonardo Daniel and first figures like Polo Ortín, Edgar Vivar and the singer-songwriter Cuco Sánchez.

Sara García deserves special mention, who joined with a special participation as ‘Nana Tomasita’, a character (in the end imaginary) who gave good advice to little Cristina. Doña Sara had accepted for some chapters, but ended up staying for practically the entire telenovela, and thus, had a fairly comfortable old age.

Due to the success obtained, “Toy World had so many chapters and subplots, that it is practically impossible to summarize, but the truth is that it changed the panorama and the programming and the way of doing television in Mexico forever. Pimstein was a genius of promotion, and even took his protagonists to make locations in Rome for Cristina (in fiction) and Graciela (in reality) to make their first communion receiving it from the (then) high pontiff, Paul VI.

Over time, Televisa rewarded Pimstein by letting him make the first nighttime soap opera — the legendary one. “Rina“, with Ophelia Medina, which would later be the basis for “Maria from the neighborhood“which consecrated to Thalia– and after three years, Gracielita, after a short vacation, starred in another soap opera (“Droplet of people “) but later decided to quit acting to be a pop singer and presenter and today she is married to the businessman and athlete Hector Loustaunau, and is the mother of two children.

Of all the main actors who accompanied her on the soap opera only she and Rocha are still alive, while the soap opera is a legacy, which even despite the versions that have been made of it, is still one of the greatest classics of Latin American TV, with a record of duration that no Mexican production has managed to overcome so far.

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