Once you notice one, you start seeing them everywhere. Toys stuck to signposts, window ledges and rooftops, throughout the downtown area, always just out of arm’s reach. Dótadreifarinn, or “the toy spreader,” is Reykjavík’s answer to Banksy, or the Easter Bunny with a cruel sense of humour. No one knows who is behind this, but photographer Ben Gruber seems to have the most extensive documentation of these toys… a bit like how Peter Parker had the most extensive documentation of Spiderman. Just sayin’ (I’m onto you, Gruber).
Accusations aside, one can’t help but wonder when and how these toys have made their way around the busiest area of Reykjavík without anyone noticing. My theory is a person creeping out in the dead of night with a ladder, a glue gun, and a high-visibility jacket. No one messes with a high-vis jacket. Seriously, if you want to do something illegal, get yourself a high-vis jacket.
But what is the point of all this? Perhaps this is an art piece. These toys are a symbol for the everyday fun and joy that we forget to look for, that we miss when we go about our daily routines. Or perhaps it’s an overly tired parent having a mental breakdown, slowly depleting their child’s toy stash, gluing every army man they’ve ever stepped on as far away from the playroom floor as possible.
Whatever the reason, once you know about these toys, you find your direction shifted from the pavement to the skies. Searching for tiny pieces of plastic, you see the beautiful window ledges and gables and balconies that you’ve never noticed before. The sun shines into your vitamin D-deficient face and you can’t help but feel a little happier. Happiness + mystery is a perfect combination, so Dótadreifarinn—please stay elusive, and remember: with great power comes great responsibility.
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