originally published May 22, 2012
Am I too old to play with toys? Perhaps. At my age, ‘toys’ are supposed to refer to power tools, iPads, a GPS, or – in a completely different context – sexual accompaniment apparati.
I grew up in the 1980s. My toys were often Star Wars, Transformers, or GI Joe themed, and occasionally they were ‘radical’, or even ‘bodacious.’ My journey today introduced me to a number of toys from the oughts decade. My kids never had these toys, mainly because we as parents believed that their intellectual growth would be better stimulated with science textbooks and DVD lectures by Dr. Linus Pauling.
Yeah, we’re kind of assholes.
But I didn’t know about these toys. My kids are probably too old for them now (and too busy seeing therapists to undo the damage we’d done), but I think I might pick some of these up for me.
Hulk Hands. These oversized green fists will generate a satisfying sound effect every time you Hulk-Smash a wall, table, neighbor, etc. I doubt you’ll find many of these at garage sales or second-hand stores because this will never get old! Who could pawn off this perfect means of expressing one’s rage without inflicting lasting damage? Even if it does break something, it would do so with a magnificent electronic noise, so who cares?
Retailers had some concerns with this product, as the ‘Try Me’ sticker on the box often encouraged kids to do just that, irreparably damaging the cardboard packaging and rendering their resale impossible.
Yummy Dough. Remember when you’d eat Playdough and adults would say, “Well, at least it’s non-toxic. He’s just not very bright is all.” Well this stuff is meant to be eaten. I don’t know how ‘yummy’ this dough truly is, but I love the idea of forming moldable clay into a safari scene – maybe some wildebeests, perhaps a herd of gazelles or a zebra, then just devouring everything in sight like a ravenous lion on angeldust. That’s some quality play-time right there.
Shocking Tanks. This toy combines three of the best things I remember about my childhood: remote-control vehicles, pretend military maneuvers, and two friends hurting each other. These little tanks fire LED lights at one another. When a hit is recorded by one of the tanks, the wounded unit triggers an electric shock in its accompanying controller. So not only are you utilizing your manual dexterity to steer your tank around garden rocks and your sister’s Barbies to get the best shot, your best friend gets electrocuted as a reward for your mastery of combat.
Shocking Duel. If you have no interest in remote-controlled vehicles or pretend battles, but still want to inflict pain, grab yourself a set of these. There’s not a lot of imagination or play here, just two joysticks, each being fed an electrical current. The first one to release his or her grip (okay, ‘his’ – this probably wasn’t marketed to girls) loses the game. This must have been a great way for friends to test each other’s manhood prior to that age when they could simply compare thickets of pubic hair.
Dart Tag. This just makes me sad. We had foam dart guns when I was young, but at best they’d fly about two feet in a mild breeze. Great for mercy kills, but unless your target was as large and stationary as a house, you wouldn’t hit much. Nerf’s Dart Tag takes this concept to where it should be. If the web can be believed, these things actually shoot. It’s completely unfair that we didn’t get to play with this technology when I was a kid. Is it too late? Does it matter that I’m three times the size I was then and grossly out of shape? I’m going with no. But wait…
N-Strike. This is Dart Tag on steroids. The good people at Nerf are no longer content shilling foamy footballs and door-hanging basketball nets. They know young boys want to shoot each other, and they’re making a mint off it. If I’m ever caught in a bell-tower, picking off random pedestrians, it will be with one of these. I have no hatred of humanity, just a bitter resentment that the coolest toys may have been released when I was too old to enjoy them. At least I still had first-generation Star Wars toys. You can’t get any cooler than a first-edition Millennium Falcon with rotating blaster turret and secret removable cargo hold, right?
Force Trainer. Dammit! It’s one thing to feel like a ten-year-old Jedi by pretending plastic wiffle-ball bats are lightsabers and dueling with your friends. But this is almost too realistic. A head sensor picks up the brain’s EEG signals and uses them to power a small fan that blows a ball in the air, like one of those lung-capacity tests. The power of your concentration – or your midichlorians perhaps – makes the toy work. All those hours I spent fruitlessly trying to coax my remote control from the other side of the couch seem wasted now. I could have seen results!
Robo-Sapien. As an only child, part of me always yearned for a sibling. A significantly larger part of me yearned for a robot. The Robo-Sapien (and its sequel, the Roboraptor), can execute dozens of commands, including karate chops, dance moves, and various burping and farting noises. When you turn it off, it mimics dropping a snowglobe and utters, “Rosebud.” I think I’ve just found my new brother.
Spykee. Hardly a toy for kids, but certainly a more functional robot companion than the Robo-Sapien, this little dude can be controlled through the internet. It has a built in webcam, microphone and speakers. Of all the items on this list, I want this one even more than the Nerf N-Strike. The hours of fun I could have at work while watching this little robot freak out my bulldogs back home in the kitchen – you just can’t put a price on that kind of childlike mirth. Apparently there’s even an app for the Android phone platform that could allow me to control this robot while I’m on the bus. Seriously, why don’t I own this?
Roxxxy. Not at all a toy for kids, I can’t do a run-down on cool modern robots without mentioning this one. Not just a sex robot, Roxxxy will converse with you, with a half-dozen pre-programmed personality styles. The perfect gift for the guy who has everything, but would simply rather never deal with human beings again.