Copyright © 1997 Henrietta W. Hay
Toys, Toys, Toys!
December 19, 1997
"'Twas the nocturnal segment of the diurnal period preceding the annual
yuletide celebration, and throughout our place of residence, kinetic
activity was not in evidence among the possessors of this potential,
including that species of domestic rodent known as Musmusculus."
This expanded version of the coming visit from St. Nicholas is "for
readers in their 23rd year of schooling," as passed along on the library
I tend to resemble the grinch in early December, and several years ago,
in my grinchiest mood, I created an "Annual Awful Taste in Toys Award."
I think the first one, awarded in 1992, may never be surpassed in bad
taste. It was the Jesus Doll at $29.95. According to the publicity, He
bends at the waist, is machine washable and wears His heart on His
tunic. I think He offends the religious and the non-religious equally.
The next year the Award went to the "Mommy is having a baby" doll. The
little girl (of course it would be a little girl) could open up Mommy's
tummy and pull out a baby. On the box it said, "Help Mommy have a baby
again and again." In addition to sending questionable anatomical
information and making it sound oh so easy, it does make one wonder what
Mommy had to say about it.
One year I gave the award to Barbie and I nearly got chased out of
town. Seriously, though, I think that over the years the toy that has
done the most damage to millions of little girls is Barbie -- she of the
unachievable figure and the big hair. She has set an impossible
standard of beauty in little girls' minds since 1959. I hear that this
year her figure has been allowed to slide downward a little bit, not
surprising considering her age.
This week I hit the toy stores in my annual search for bad taste. I
spent a couple of wonderful days cruising up and down the aisles looking
at more toys than I dreamed existed.
As always, there are shelves and shelves of guns of all kinds, from
rifles that shoot water to launchers that atomize people. I'd like to
give the Award to the whole bunch, but having attacked Barbie one year,
I'm not going to touch guns.
I think this year the Award has to go to gross -- the bugs that spit
pus, "an extra supply furnished." The instructions on the package warn
that the fluid may stain fabrics, ruin wood finish and is not a food
product. They make adults shudder, but the kids probably love them.
A close second might be the Martian brain disintegrator. You pull the
trigger and "light up the throbbing brain."
But as always, there are so many wonderful toys that will make
children's' eyes shine. Some of them made my eyes shine too. It took
all my willpower to resist buying the Sojourner Rover model that climbs
over things on the floor as easily as it climbed over rocks on Mars.
And I couldn't resist the virtual pets. My virtual dog died last night
of starvation because I couldn't figure out how to get virtual food to
him. This morning he has virtual wings and a halo.
Some toys never grow old. Lincoln logs were my favorites back in the
dark ages, and they are still there on the shelves and still made out of
wood. Erector sets are still around, more elaborate each year. They
are great because they require imagination and ability to put together,
and aren't designed to kill anybody..
Last year Tickle Me Elmo was almost impossible to find. This year he is
on the shelf giggling for any child/adult who comes along. And he has
been joined by a laughing Cookie Monster.
This is a wonderful time of year for the kids, and maybe even more for
the grandparents who were wandering around the stores , their arms
laden with boxes. They were probably remembering, as I was, the toys
of our childhood.
Before St. Nicholas took off, " I overheard his parting exclamation,
audible immediately prior to his vehiculation beyond the limits of
visibility: 'Ecstatic yuletides to the planetary constituence, and to
that self-same assemblage my sincerest wishes for a salubriously
beneficial and gratifyingly pleasurable period between sunset and