Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Dear Santa; The 1968 Edition

Top ten toys for Christmas is dead.  I've looked at every top ten list on the internet and I'd love to poke fun at them if I could figure out what they actually are.  I've no clue.  Even less of one.
What is a Discovery Bay Games Duo Pop?  A tv channel, a body of water, twins, a quickie or Coke west of Ohio?  I've no idea and less interest in finding out.  Oregon Scientific MEEP?  Did somebody sit on and crush Oregon Scientific before they had a chance to describe their toy?  YBIKE explorer?  YBOTHER?

Lets face it, I'm getting too old to understand this stuff.  Evidenced further by the fact that when I tell a slightly off color joke out of earshot of the 15 year old she is within earshot and tells a dirtier joke.  And funnier to boot.  Youth, a pity we waste it on the young without a provision to send them to labor camps until they're twenty seven.

I don't get toys anymore.  And you can take that both ways.  They're a rechargeable battery, plug into the internet, colorful and interactive learning experience mystery to me, added to the fact that they make too much noise.  And yet they're fundamentally no different from the stuff we played with when we were kids and this would be the same stuff that befuddled our parents.  So a Crayola Digital Light Designer is to me as a Thingmaker was to our parents.  Today's children play with more computing memory than existed to shoot Neil Armstrong to the moon.  Similarly, we played with more reactive chemistry toys than IG Farben had in our parent's days.  As one generation steps forward, it leaves another generation wondering just what the fuck happened here?

So here's my top ten toy list solved.  Let me present the top ten Christmas toys from when I was still interested in Christmas toys that weren't named Anna and had a fetish for ermine and handcuffs.

10:  Model Trains.  They chuffed, they smoked and you could fit an icon of the kid who beat you up in gym class into the caboose and run the whole thing off the edge of a cliff.  Or tie him to the rails if you liked the toy.

9:  Toy Robots.  Batteries not included but when they worked they were ideal to bribe mom and dad with the phrase, "I'll turn it off if I can watch 'Get Smart.'"

8:  Toy Bake Ovens.  Never mind that after mixing something into the consistency of runny snot and waiting eight hours for a forty watt bulb to do its thing, you got a cookie that had it been served at school you'd have flung at the kid who beat you in gym class earning you another beating next Thursday, these things were a plastic declaration of independence.  Won't feed me mom?  Well, never mind, I'll just off to my oven and grill up some more liquid boogers.

7:  Plastic soldiers.  If you had a comic book, a buck twenty nine and a stamp you had an army coming your way in the mail.  Then it was off to the sandbox for the mother of all wars against the neighbor kid's uniformed forces which, incidentally and unfortunately looked a lot like yours so POW's became a way to beef up the ranks.  For the poor kids from down the street, well, dig in the trodden dirt to score up enough figures to at least field a platoon.

6:  Doll houses.  Go ahead, send me to my room.  I'll just lock myself in my house and give you dirty looks out the window.  Oh and I've got an oven for cookies.

5:  Electric race car sets.  We're in training for the interstate here, Mom and Dad so you want something that reinforces the idea that even though speed can kill, its really cool too.

4:  Hot Wheels.  The only brand name I'm going to call out because I can still buy the same car today that I could buy in 1968 with the same performance features and if Detroit adopted that business model, Toyota would be the world's leading skateboard maker.  When you had Hot Wheels, you fundamentally had the ability to challenge the laws of physics.  Just ask the kid who's second floor apartment had a balcony and if all his pals pooled their track they could break the speed of sound with a Twin Mill.

3:  Sports gear.  A new hockey stick to replace the one that was now sooner to hold an olive in gin that shoot a puck, a goalie's stick if you were the fat, slow kid on the block but could finally hold the same kind of wood as number 29.  A baseball glove and hopes for an early spring.  A football helmet that you could test by running into trees in the park.  A soccer ball that you'd get sent to the garage to volley off your foot after you kind of lost the first juggle and hit the stereo.

2:  Toy guns.  So if you were born after 1975, sit down.  In my day, toy guns were:  Made of metal, shot caps, either chromed or cast in gun metal colors without orange plastic markers on the end of the barrel or worse yet, cast out of OSHA yellow plastic.  Nope, they looked like guns, they felt like guns, we used them like guns, killing off the squad from next door only to have them rear up against us after the mandatory count to sixty "dead."  We packed heat the neighbor kids and I and I hate to say it but I had the most firepower since Christmas '69 delivered a full automatic M-16 replica which ruled until '71 when Mike and Dave go shotguns that blew out a convincing blast of air.  Incidentally, we all, everyone who played in our gunfights, are still living breathing adults, all bereft of criminal records and about as inclined to go on homicidal sprees as we are to sign up for the Chia Pet of the Month club.

1:  Bikes.  Bikes were the fastest cars, the highest flying airplanes, rocket ships, submarines and with enough baseball cards and a couple of clothespins, hogs that made the local chapter of The Centurions blush.  Most importantly, a bike was a thing that, if ridden properly, could actually make the image of your mother, holding the bag of trash it was your job to take out, shrink and vanish into a point on the horizon.

And if that doesn't spread good cheer, nothing does.

Bunny on.

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