Today’s toys make me glad to be an adult
by LUCIE R. WILLSIE, Associate Editor
Dec 02, 2012 | 433 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I just can’t figure it out.

But I know for sure I don’t like them.

Maybe it’s just as simple as not being a kid any longer. No, because there are lots I just adore.

Or maybe it’s just a matter of being out of touch with what’s “in” with kids these days. I almost said “youngsters.” Oh, how that would date me!

You see, I have been trying to figure out why the “hot” toys for this holiday season not only don’t interest me, but leave me decidedly, well, flat — even unenthused and disinterested. I just can’t figure out why kids these days would want to play with them.

A Furby, especially a purple one, for example, is making a comeback as one of the hottest toys this season.

A Furby. It scares me a little. And, I just don’t understand how it compares with a cuddly teddy bear or a Kissy Doll or a Mrs. Beasley doll or even just a simple but loving little baby doll.

My favorite Christmas toy memory now as an adult is this robot, kinda like the one on “Lost in Space,” that had sparks flying out of it if you moved its arms or legs. I don’t rightly remember why I remembered this Christmas present first when thinking of some of my favorite gifts. But I guess it’ll be either a relief or a disappointment to most parents that I wasn’t significantly influenced in later life by the toys I received as a youngster. I didn’t become a space scientist or a robotics engineer or a robot competition contestant or anything related to robots.

I also remember other faves, such as all my miscellaneous Barbie stuff, which I still have, believe it or not. They call it collecting these days. And my Kissy Doll and my Revlon Doll and my board games and my doll bed. Don’t have these any longer, but I still remember them fondly.

Woops. I guess I finally did show my age. There’s that word — “youngster,” a few paragraphs ago. I guess I just couldn’t help myself.

Here are some — and just some, because there are different toys on different lists and I don’t know why they aren’t more similar — of this year’s (supposedly) “hot” kids’ toys: the aforementioned Furby, Appfinity Appdrive, Skylanders Giants Starter Pack, Mega Bloks Halo Warthog Resistance, Monster High Scarily Ever After Collection, Imaginext Eagle Talon Castle, Move Like Mickey, WWE Brawlin’ Buddies John Cena Plush Figure, Tabeo 7-Inch Kids Tablet, Bobble Bots Moshi Monsters Moshling, LittleBits, Nintendo Wii, Vtech Switch & Go Dinos, ThinkFun Stenzzies and Razor FlashRider 360.

Whew! I can’t even figure out what most of these things are by their names. Heck! I can’t even figure out what most of them are by their pictures.

“The boxes are more interesting than the toys,” said one guy. And I can’t say he isn’t right.

And this is one very valid reason why I don’t like the “hot” new holiday toys — I can’t even figure out what they are!

Compare these toys today with those from our younger days: Slinky, Etch-a-Sketch, Jack in the Box, jacks, paddle ball — OK. These last two are going fairly far back, I’ll admit, but then there’s the pot holder loom kit — remember that one? And then there’s Bozo the Clown Bop Bag, The Hoola-Hoop, Colorforms, Lincoln Logs, Pick-Up Stix, a View Master, Silly Putty, Chatty Cathy, an Erector set, Betsy Wetsy, an ant farm, Thumbelina, Ceepy Crawlers Bugmaker, Hands Down game, Lite-Brite, Spirograph, a Fisher-Price Little People Family Play Farm Barn and a Kaleidoscope.

At least these are instantly recognizable — at least to me — and I am assuming to most of you adults of a certain age out there as well. I wonder how recognizable — yet alone memorable — some of this year’s “hot” toys will be when today’s kids grow up?

Folks I’ve talked with recently were very quick — and unequivocally — to acknowledge their favorite toy, as well as to reminisce on some fond memories.

I’ve mentioned a couple favorites earlier — Mrs. Beasley was a favorite doll of one young woman, a Soft doll for another, a simple baby doll for another lady, a Lionel train and a GI Joe were favorites of one fella. In fact, this same fella is now trying to buy one of these Lionel trains from his youth as a gift under the tree for this Christmas. However, he said he wasn’t having a lot of luck finding some of the traditional toys he remembers playing with.

Lite Brite was another favorite mentioned. It consisted of a board with lights behind it and, using pegs, kids could make pictures and/or designs.

“Toys are ridiculous these days,” this same Lite Brite lady said. “They’re not made so you can interact with other people. Kids can just be by themselves. They’re not at all oriented toward being with other people. They also don’t use their imagination much.”

She wishes she could go back to the older Fisher-Price toys like the farm. She remembers, when you open the barn door, kids would hear the sound of a cow. In fact, being a new grandma, she is looking for one of these original farms for her granddaughter.

Hot Wheels and a bicycle are what another lady remembers. She only had brothers and only had sons, so many of her toy memories were toys traditionally associated with boys. But the toys nowadays, for both girls and boys, are too violent. When she buys for children in her family, she tends to buy arts and crafts.

But one fella does remember — fondly — some boy-oriented toys.

One Christmas, he received a Tiger Joe battery-operated tank. His brother got a Battlewagon (a battery-powered battleship) that same Christmas.

The two boys would have “battles” to see which vehicle was the biggest, the strongest, the fastest.

It was a toss-up — and depends on who you ask, said this fella.

“Both were pretty good-sized toys,” he said. So, during one battle, the two boys tied a string from the rear ends of the ship and the tank for a tug-of-war to see which one was the strongest. “My Tiger Joe would always win that one.”

But then, when it came to racing to see which one was the fastest, his brother’s Battlewagon always seemed to come out in front, said the fella.

However, it really wasn’t the wonderfulness of the toys they received so much, especially now in his adult years thinking back. It wasn’t the toys themselves so much that were heartwarming and memorable.

“We were very poor,” said the man, with a wistful look on his face. “I can’t believe they — my mom and dad — did what they did for us, especially at Christmas.”

Maybe it’s the same for all the rest of us as well.