I had some time to kill while my car was being worked on, so I walked down the road a piece to wander the local “video game bicycle clothing board game action figure Barbie Lego electronics movie diaper” store [hereafter referred to as “toy store”] and see what is being offered to the young’uns these days. Because I don’t want to point fingers, we will call this toy store “Things U Buy.” There, now nobody has any clue which chain of stores we are talking about.
I wanna grow up. I’m a Things U Buy adult.
As I wandered through the aisles I found myself marveling at how nonsensical some of the items seemed to be. Within two minutes I began snapping pictures of the items that stuck out to me the most. Some struck me as poorly thought out. Some struck me as shamelessly greedy (like, more shamelesslyer than normal for toy companies.) Some just struck me as unnecessary, or even inappropriate. Now, I wish to share them with you. It all started in the board game section, where you can find games adapted from the most unexpected of sources.
Let’s hope it comes with Scratch ‘N Sniff cards!
Or perhaps some nearly-understandable adaptations that almost certainly fail to live up to their original incarnations. Like the merger of a popular game, a popular sci-fi franchise, and a…..maybe kinda popular party game?
Smartphone game + TV/Film property + tabletop game? OK, Words With Friends + Wheel of Fortune + Scrabble. Nailed it!
But that pales in comparison to this “real life” version of a game based on brutal violence against fresh produce. I assure you, this is a real thing.
The kid wanted to show me his ninja skills, so I threw a watermelon at him. His Mom disapproved of my tactics.
As I moved on to the section geared to young boys, I was faced with dozens of weapons designed to hurl soft projectiles at other young boys who all wish they could look as cool and intimidating as the boys on the packaging. Near these items we find the modern equivalent of what was known as SpyTech when I was a kid. Plastic items intended to make children feel like James Bond, without the copious amounts of poon that being James Bond entails. In addition to “spy” gear, we also get junior versions of special forces equipment. Stealth combat daggers, utility belts, and this;
Hey kid, don’t forget to write “Low Profile” on the back of your shirt is neon green paint.
Pro Tip: When you write COVERT on your covert mission gear, you are no longer covert.
Pro Tip 2: When you replace your black armored suit with shiny, shiny gold armor, you are also no longer covert.
After creating that suit, Bruce Wayne was forced to file for bankruptcy.
Now, without fail, anytime I browse current toy selections, I am reminded that I am getting older. Sometimes this feeling comes from seeing how modern and sleek so many of the toys look nowadays. But other times, it is due to seeing how many toys from my childhood are returning to shelves, riding on the nostalgia wave. They are even joining forces with other toys, old and new, to make crazy toy bastards. Here I found a combination that simultaneously screamed to me “why didn’t I think of this sooner?” and “WTF?”
Why not add Failed Reality TV Stars to the mix? I want Teela vs Tila Tequila!
Many of you may have already taken note of the strange softening of certain entertainment characters, in order to make even the most intense and dark pop culture fixtures safe enough for children. This is arguably most evident in the form of an adorable incarnation of the murder-blood-berserker-rage-slaughter-kill machine known as Wolverine.
Where is the Super Hero Squad version of Wolverine as Weapon X? Y’know, where a computer covering his swimsuit-area is all he wears?
You might say that this particular toy line makes sense, as it makes young adult characters accesible to smaller children. Perhaps your logic is sound. But no logic will make the following item acceptable. Why? Because SUPERMAN CAN FLY FASTER THAN A MOTORCYCLE CAN DRIVE!
With a custom paint job? You realize that General Zod is slaughtering thousands of humans, right? We don’t have time for these aesthetics!
And if that wasn’t enough preposterousness from the Man of Steel marketing machine, just take a look at the toy that clearly was inspired by the deleted scene showing us Superman with huge mutated hands borrowing a rejected Iron Man suit to swing a ridiculous axe at Made-Up Robot Monster.
Superman: “Hey, weren’t you in that Judge Dredd movie from 1994?”
Okay, sarcasm aside…….these guys are pretty damn adorable.
The Force is…sickeningly cute.
This guy, however is not. Honestly, would you want this staring at you while you sleep?
“Touch you naughty, I will.”
This next item is a different flavor of inappropriate. Robot killing machines on an utterly relentless mission to terminate [kill] every human on earth is now, apparently, wholesome fun for all the kiddies.
Landscape of tiny, tiny skulls not included.
And last, but certainly not least, we have a “toy” that is clearly inspired by what may be the most questionable source for children’s merchandise. The rapper who gave us the lyrics:
Baby let me rope you up
Tie you down
Do it right
No matter how hard you buck
Gonna get wild all night
If anyone is confused, he’s totally talking about fucking. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…
Well done Toys R….
Of course, I mean Things U Buy.