Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It was Kenner! It was Fun! Ber-awk!

I love shopping for toys.  I can wander up and down the aisles of Toy-R-Us for hours studying GI Joe accessory sets, play food for play kitchens, and Disney Pixar action figures.  I miss buying toys for little boys.  I miss the toys that I had as a little girl.  I enjoy examing how popular toys from "back in the day" have gone through a sort of metamorphosis over the years.

Here we have Barbie's original midcentury modern bachelorette pad.  For some strange reason, Santa left this amazing cardboard structure complete with little cardboard "couch cushion" discs under the tree with my sister, Kathy's, name on it.  Kathy was a self-declared "boygirl" who tromped up and down East Neal Street wearing red polyester pajamas, cowboy boots and a holster handy with a 6-shooter.  On Christmas morning after spying the Dream House with the wrong name on it, I looked at my mom with a wrinkled nose on my disappointed face.  "I'm sure that Kathy will be happy to share her Dream House with you!" she chimed.  My jaw dropped.  Share the Dream House with Little Boygirl?  Someone shoot me now!  Even Kathy looked confused by the presence of the Barbie house that had NOT been on her list.  As an adult, I have reasoned that after Santa had all the toys stacked under the tree, he did a little bit of "equalizing."  Can you tell that I'm still a bit emotionally scarred?

Santa must have taken the Three Little Pigs' housing debacles to heart when he redesigned Barbie's new home dubbing it a town house.  It wasn't until I saw this 3-story wonder that I realized the "Kathy's" Dream House had no kitchen.  Our helmet-haired, red-headed Barbie didn't have time to cook.  She was too busy speeding away in evening attire to hot night spots in her red convertible with Ken.  And, she never, ever had to go to the bathroom.   Since she didn't eat, she probably had no use for a powder room anyway.  Are you kidding me?  She had too much trouble pulling on those tight pants in the first place.  No way was she going to waste precious time and effort taking potty breaks.

One year, Santa left each of us a Kenner Sparkle Paint set.  I can't remember which sets he left for the three of us, but you can pretty much bet that Kathy's was the "5 Pictures of Superman" set.  What I do remember is the little tubs of glitter - "emerald," "ruby," "sapphire."  They had me at "PAINT PICTURES THAT SPARKLE LIKE JEWELS."  I'm sure that my art teacher mother cringed when she purchased those sets on Santa's behalf from one of the 3 toy shelves the back of Western Auto on the square in Carthage, Texas.  She often reminded us that "original" artworks - crayon drawings on thin manila paper - were more creative than covering a coloring book drawing with glue and glitter.  My reply?  "It's Kenner!  It's FUN ber-awk!"

Kenner's Mascot, Gooney Bird
The other day, I saw a commercial for Crayola's new Color Wonder toy.  I'll let the Crayola people explain it to you:

Bring Color Wonder creations to life - with sounds! This interactive coloring pad lets you choose from 60 sound effects and place them anywhere on any Color Wonder coloring page! Create endless sound combinations that play back when you color your picture!
The Interactive Drawing Base comes with 6 sound icon cards (total of 60 sounds), 5 Color Wonder Mini Markers, 12 pages of pre-printed Color Wonder art and 6 sheets of blank Color Wonder Paper. 

But, it doesn't sparkle.  Not one little bit.  I didn't need pictures that talked to me.  I did my own voice-overs for my Sparkle paint creations.  I made up little songs as well as snappy dialogue.  Mr. McGoo would glisten as I mimicked him, "HA!  Top of the morning to you, young lady!  Heh, heh, heh!  McGoo's the name!"  The human child's voice is way better than some new-fangled "sound icon card."  Back in the 60's, a "Color Wonder set" was a box of 64  unbroken crayons.  Does an old-fashioned fresh 64-pack of crayons thrill a child's heart in the year 2010?  I wonder, and I doubt.

As I recall, the only toys that had to be plugged into a wall socket were Kirk's vibrating football game, my Easy Bake oven, and Kathy's Creepy Crawler Thingmaker.  Our stick horses' hooves clattered with the clicking sounds made out of the sides of our mouths.  My brother's Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots had sound effects - the sound of plastic whacking plastic. 

I need to head to Toys-R-Us to select toys for the Salvation Army Christmas tree at our church.  I chose 2 young boys and one little girl.  I skipped over the requests for Ipods and Xboxes.  I went straight for the kids who wanted good, old-fashioned toys.  Juan wants Superman toys, and Julian hopes to receive "pirate toys."  Sweet little Ana simply wants to be a princess.  I wish that I could actually sit down on the floor alongside with each child for a while to play.  "Shewwwwwwwwwww!  Here comes Batman to the rescue!!!"  "Ahoy maties!  Shiver me timbers!"  "Look!  Here comes the prince!  I can tell by the twinkle in his eye that he thinks you're beautiful!  He wants to marry you!  You'll live happily ever after!!"

Off I skip to TRU!  La-le-la-le-laaaaaa!

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