I recently purchased a gift for a seven-year-old and was aghast at the selection of toys currently on the market. When you don't have children and you are no longer 12, keeping up with the latest Hasbros is not No. 1 on your list. So my search was quite revealing and, more than that, annoying. What is going on with toys these days?
Sure, I recognized a few. Barbie is still strutting her leggy self, with a bit less to cover her girl parts. Lego kits haven't changed all that much. My generation had the Star Wars collection and this generation has the... Star Wars collection. Of course, where toys are concerned, there will always be classics like Hot Wheels, board games and Nerf guns.
That's where the similarities between toys of 2012 and the toys of the past end. Scrolling through the Toys R Us Web site I found bizarre, pointless novelties with names that I couldn't pronounce, which made me feel stupid. Moshi Monsters Moshling? DaGeDar Balls? Xia-Xia Crabs? Bakugans?
What the hell are you talking about?
Twenty years ago, toys had normal names and they offered educational engagement and an idealistic simplicity. I think. I don't actually remember what toys used to be like, so I dug through this Internet thingy to see what I could find.
These Toys are 20 Years Old
The Barbie Dream House
Now we're talking! The Barbie Dream House was the ultimate possession for any little girl. In fact, if you did not own the BDH, you were a huge loser. I can't say why, but the house had no walls nor curtains to deter Ken from peeping in when Barbie was in her unmentionables.
The 1992 version of the BDH was split into three portions, which allowed you to move and reshape the house into various configurations, just like a real house! There was a small dining area complete with table and chairs, which unfortunately Barbie couldn't sit on because she can't bend her knees. The best part of the house was the room with the vanity mirror, so Barbie could while away the day staring at her gorgeous, plastic self.
Crash Dummies Crash Test Center
In the late 1980s, a public service campaign to promote adhering to safety belt laws was popularized. The PSAs featured crash test dummies not wearing their seat belts being subjected to insane car crashes. The dummies would smash through windshields to die untimely, dummy deaths.
For some moronic reason, the guy who creates toys thought that these two dummies would make for great action figures and the Incredible Crash Test Dummies were born. The Crash Center allowed a child to "create hundreds of weird and wacky smash-ups." Of course, having your child configure various ways for a crash test dummy to die is a fantastic idea. At least the toys had more going on than the Canadian band of the same name. (Mmmmm Mmmmm, Mmmmm?)
Cre-ee-ee-py Crawlers! What an odd toy this was. The complete kit came with white plastic molds of bug shapes that you were to fill with "Plasti Goop." You then baked the molds in a Suzy Bake Oven of sorts and voilà! You had a bunch of rubbery bugs at your disposal. Once you baked the bugs, the world was your oyster. You could put them in your Grandma's casserole, hide them in your sister's diary or lose them somewhere in your house and have to buy additional "Goop" sets.Nickelodeon Belly Bumper
Yay! It's a big blow-up doughnut that you put around your waste and bump into other people wearing the same doughnut. Now what?
Baby Rollerblade"She gets around."
A baby doll that can rollerblade with you, bro. Baby Rollerblade was just capitalizing on the Rollerblade fad of the 1990s. Shame on you, Baby. You know you wore those blades three times in your life and then they sat in the back of your closet collecting dust while you played with your new Huffy Princess Scooter.
Barbie Press Pretty Iron
The Barbie Press Iron really warmed up so little girls could iron theirs and Barbie's Sunday best. This is exactly what we should be giving little girls as toys. "Look, Sally, ironing is so much fun! Here, why not try to iron daddy's work shirt. And when higher education doesn't pan out for you, because you are a girl, you can iron for a living." Nestle Talking Vending Machine
The Nestle Talking Vending Machine was pretty much what you would expect it to be. It was a vending machine that played one of several phrases every time you put a fake coin in. Phrases included: "Hey, fat ass!" "Do you really need that?" "Oh, it's three o'clock. Let me guess, a Crunch bar?" "Other people like Kit Kats, too." Crossfire
I am not quite sure what went on in the Crossfire, but I do know that you "had to win it" there. It was a live-action shooting game similar to Hungry Hungry Hippo, but much more manly and futuristic.
Trolls date back to the late 1950s in Europe, but they really hit their stride in the 1990s. In 1992 they saturated the kid marketplace. While I will admit to having trolls, their appeal baffles me to this day. Why were these dolls so popular? They were ugly, and had crazy hair and unfortunately large noses. They didn't "do" anything, unless you count staring at you creepily as "something."
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In 1992 the Trolls attempted to appeal to young boys by creating Battle Trolls. It didn't work at all. Only girls are into trolls.
Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf
Desert Strike was a game originally released for the Sega Genesis, but quickly expanded into other game formats due to its high popularity. The game was a "shoot-'em-up" type that took soldiers to the Gulf region in an attempt to overthrow a criminal dictator. Sound like anything familiar?