John Moore: Toying with kids

 

Toys ain't what they used to be.

When my kids were little, Cabbage Patch Dolls were all the rage.

I never understood Cabbage Patch Dolls, or the hair pulling and fistfights that occurred in stores across America over who was going to get the first ones off the shelf when the new shipments arrived.

Think about it. The premise was that each doll was born in a cabbage patch. I'm not sure if the idea was to take a kid's attention from the birds and the bees and redirect it to the cabbage patch, but I can see how giving a kid a doll that supposedly was born in a garden could cause a bit of confusion.

A similar toy was the Care Bear. There were several different ones, distinguished by color and what type of Care Bear he was. His type of caring was stitched across his chest. These were almost as popular as the Cabbage Patch Doll, but the premise made a lot more sense to me. Sell your kids on caring about things. Nice idea.

Another confusing toy of the day was Stretch Armstrong. If you're not familiar with Stretch Armstrong, just think of a doll built like Arnold Schwarzenegger that is filled with gel. You could pull his arms and legs far away from his body and let them go back in slow motion.

These days, a kid can get kicked out of school just for pointing his finger and thumb in the shape of a gun. I can't imagine what kind of note would be sent home now if a kid was stretching body parts on a doll.

But, even the toys that were out when I was a kid were a little odd.

One I always wanted, but never got, was a metal hot plate with molds shaped like monsters and other creatures. You'd mix a substance together and pour it into the molds, cook it, and after it cooled, you'd have made your own toy.

In 1967, I'm sure the plate probably had lead in it, the substance was toxic and plenty of kids got third-degree burns playing with it. All probably reasons I never got one.

Barbie is another toy from my era that I still think sends mixed messages. She is unrealistically beautiful, has a boyfriend who won't marry her and you have to buy all of her friends. Now that I think about it, from what I see coming out of Hollywood, none of that is all that uncommon these days.

G.I. Joe. Now that was a cool toy. I'm not talking about the tiny plastic G.I. Joe's you see today. I'm talking about the big ones with real clothes you could get back in the '60s. Joe had plenty of gear, and if you played with him after the Fourth of July, he had plenty of grenades that you'd stashed from the leftover fireworks.

Other honorable mentions of toys that were cool back in the day are Lincoln Logs, Slinky and Legos.

I went on the Internet to see what the most popular toys are this year.

Fisher-Price makes an alien-looking dancing doll called the BeatBo; Hallmark makes a red microphone called the North Pole Communicator; Tonka offers the Mighty Motorized Fire Rescue Fire Engine Truck with realistic lights and sound; and Care Bears are back, but now they also sing.

I hope mommy and daddy get plenty of Prozac in their stockings this year.

 

For more of John's musings, visit johnmoore.net/blog.

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