Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, July 1, 2010

Toys: An Era Here and Gone

By Professor Spork

Many of you don't know this, but once upon a time we were builders. We built castles and skyscrapers, and airplanes and cars. We created fire-breathing dragons, and built towers to house princesses with their golden hair and wretched fates. The knights rode up on horses that wouldn't move, so we pushed them past dangling bridges made of strings and paper. It was the fantasy world you find in movies and video games, but in these stories, we were Destiny, we were Doom, and we were gods.

The Princess and the Cheerleader
Barbie was always a princess when we were growing up. She had beautiful flowing skirts held up by layers and layers of petticoats, and Ken was a prince she would fall in love with at first sight more or less at least. There was no romance involved it was a love story, plain and simple. She took us back to the age of magic and mystery, where a wicked stepmother locked her up and yet she never failed to find a way to destroy evil.

Now Barbie wears miniskirts and goes to high school, Ken is a brainless jock, and her best friend is no longer a fire-breathing dragon aka misfit of the century, but just the misfit of the school. Evil? Meet the Mean Girls. Fantasy? The romantic ones are more than enough. Who needs a wicked stepmother when you're already the epitome of the worst nightmare of every teenage girl?

Deny it as much as you want boys, but you've had a crush on your sister's Barbie from the moment you saw it. If only your girlfriend which by the way you shouldn't even have at this age wore such short skirts.

Hotwheels vs. iPhones
It wasn't about the gelled hair, or about the girlfriend. It was about the tracks. The longer your track, the more twisted you can make it, the cooler you are. One theme at least made it to this day you're only as cool as the car you own. Back then we meant the Hotwheels model.
Now, it's your cell phone.

“Aw man, your dad gave you a cell already? Mine said I couldn't have one till I was 10! That's like, two years from now!”
Uh… yeah.

What about pretending the speed was making the tracks burn up? What about racing away from the crumbling tracks?? What about when the tracks actually fell apart and you were crashing to Earth??? You can't do that with your iPhone! Listening to the Jonas Brothers and Justin Bieber all day isn't going to increase your chances with the girls, believe me.
And what about cooties???

The Makers… and the Breakers
Okay, so someone just informed me that cooties have been proved nonexistent. Pity you could scare the crap out of the bravest soldier with those. Anyway.

God wasn't the only one who could create. So what if our creations had too many corners? I think we did pretty well for having to use blocks instead of the more moldable mud. Our cities were Lego. Our cars were Lego. Our trees were Lego. Even our food was Lego! Eat, breathe, build. Occasionally take a bath. That was the life!

Somehow our toys also lasted long enough to be handed down to the next generation which of course instantly destroyed them.

This generation is that of the demolishers. They barreled through your stuff, they barreled through your parents' stuff, and they're barreling through their own stuff as I speak. No respect whatsoever for that Hotwheels set you so meticulously gathered, or your Barbie princess collection. That exquisite set of marbles? Lost and cracked (how they manage to crack a marble is beyond me) before you could check in on it next morning. You had to score an A on all subjects to be awarded that giant robot. You kept it safe for years. And now this snot-nosed brat comes along, scores a couple D's, takes your robot, and by his bedtime it's missing its head.

G.I.Joe was never really my thing, so I got a ton of little toy soldiers. They didn't use nukes just tiny guns and making battle strategies was what I did best. We set up war zones with our friends and our soldiers were even color-coded for country! No one was interested in being USA. Weird, huh?

You see, kids today have very short attention spans (a sign: increased ADD occurrences), so they need (changing) lights and sound to hold their concentrations. Result: Inability to take an afternoon nap after staying up all night to finish that assignment. We weren't that annoying.
I think.
Well our guns didn't make weird noises!

Of Hercules and PSP
Remember when you had to leave your precious computer to go to a relative's house, or even to study? For some odd reason your mother never really cared about the Damsel in Distress. Now you can just sneak the console into your shirt and pretend you've grown abs. We used to read storybooks under the table. Now kids play PSP under the table. The plus point is that we used to get caught, and they do too.

We used to be banned from the computer for a week. They get banned from their PSP for an hour. We didn't try it again for a month. They don't try it again for… an hour.

Whisper in the dark
Did you ever play with Lego? A princess Barbie? Did you ever see a toy on the street and think 'Hey, I had one like that!' If you did, you're a lucky kid. Toys are what let you invent a world of your own, where you can lose yourself when there are friends and when there aren't, when your parents can play with you and when they can't. Where you can forget that you're a kid and pretend to be all grown up. What kids now have aren't toys. They're distractions. A way to make them forget that their parents aren't home, too busy with work. That their older siblings are too busy studying, because the workload keeps piling up year after year. That their friends live too far away to visit, and neighbors don't really care. We pretended to be grown-ups. They grow up before their time. The toys need to be louder to stop them thinking, and brighter to prevent them seeing. Seeing what?

That they're not as important as they should be. If you force-feed a child loneliness six out of seven days, they will learn to enjoy it. Because that's the only way to survive.



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