And here's the next "new" feature on Random Acts of Geekery, the "Rant-Itorial" -- in other words, part rant, part editorial. In the past, I've posted a few rants about this and that, and there's still things that get to me that I need to vent about, so this is where that'll happen! So here's the first one:
I don't know what's up with kids and their toys today. It seems that these days, kids don't appreciate the toys they get, to the point where they seem to spend as much time trying to break them as they do playing -- if not more.
When I was a kid in the 1960s and early 1970s, I appreciated my toys, believe me! If a toy of mine got broken, it was because I played with it that much. It didn't take long before I started figuring out how to repair toys that needed it -- I restrung the elastic on a Mego or two, and did costume repairs on my Megos and my GI Joes.
Maybe it was because when I was a kid, we didn't have that many toys, so the toys we did have were that much more special. Or maybe it was that the toys themselves were more special -- certainly the 12" GI Joes of my youth were more fun to play with than the tiny ones made these days (and I didn't have to be locked into a particular backstory either -- it was just "The GI Joe Adventure Team," and you had them have adventures!), and argue with me if you will, but I think that the 8" Mego World's Greatest Superheroes action figures are much better toys than the multi-articulated or barely-articulated toys made these days, even if their vehicles make sounds or do all kinds of "cool" things.
I mean, check out my "Toys" tag, and you'll see a plethora of toys that grown men in their 30s and 40s and older will haunt eBay and comic book and toy conventions for, trying to recapture the same feeling those toys gave them as kids. Or maybe they're just trying to grab a piece of the past that they didn't have as a kid, such as I do with my Give-A-Show Projector collection.
I just can't picture my son, Tristan, 20 or 30 years from now, trying to replace his "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" action figures, or even his Hot Wheels... because I really doubt he'll even remember he ever had them!
But as I was saying three paragraphs back, maybe kids just have too many toys these days, and that's probably the fault of those of us who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s. When we go to Toys R Us with our kids these days (or the toy department of Target or other stores), we're faced with a bewildering array of toys, and I suspect that we can't help but think about all the toys from our childhood that we had, as well as those personal "Holy Grail" toys that we always wanted but never got (for me, it might've been the Mego Fantastic Four figures), and so when our kids ask for them, we probably think how we wish our parents had been more generous, and we give into them and spend the money.
Lots of money. Probably running into hundreds of dollars a year, depending on what your available income is.
And it's hard to stop, I know! It's been an ongoing struggle here to cut back on new toys at Christmas and birthdays, and we don't clear out old toys that aren't played with any more, probably because we keep hoping that our kids will rediscover them again. But honestly, I don't think Tristan's going to be pulling out his Batman and Plastic Man B&B figures or the Batmobile that turns into a Batplane ever again... nor do I think he's going to get a lot of his other toys out to play with again, because now he's into something different.
And it's not just boys... my daughter Desi used to be so much in love with Dora the Explorer that we got her a lot of Dora toys that she never plays with, either (well, except for a Dora doll that came with her twin baby brother and sister and sings songs -- but we got that at a garage sale, so it doesn't necessarily count). She's got Barbie dolls that lay around unplayed with, and I don't know how long it's been since she played with the Barbie-scaled doll house I put together for her over several hours on Christmas Eve last year (finishing just half an hour before the bug that was going around hit her, causing me to have to take her to the Emergency Room that night, but I digress).
I'm not sure if the lack of playing with a toy gets to me more than the deliberate breaking of toys does. Time and time again, I've seen children get a new toy and grab and pull and twist and yank on every part of it to see what pieces they can take off of them -- and these aren't pieces that are ever supposed to come off. As I'm writing this, it's been a week since my son got a new toy -- it's a spring-powered launcher for these foam glider planes -- that he absolutely had to have when he saw it. The weekend wasn't even over before the first of the planes was broken, and now all three planes that came with it are broken, making the toy completely unusable.
This has happened to way too many toys, some of which he didn't even have 24 hours before they were broken beyond repair. Maybe that's why I prefer finding toys for the kids at garage sales during the summer, because at least we're not paying for brand-new toys that'll get broken (oddly, garage sale toys don't seem to get broken, or at least they're rarely broken).
I wish I had an answer for this, honestly I do. But short of clearing out all but maybe ten percent of the toys we currently have for the kids, I can't see it getting any better.
And my kids wonder why I won't let them play with the toys they see in my office!