‘Tis the season to get stressed out shopping for toys and games, so I thought I’d help reduce some of that strain. Whether you shop on the Third Street Promenade or at a mall where you can find parking, buying toys and games is not easy. Reading this should make your trips to the toy store shorter and your visits to the holiday medicine cabinet less frequent.
If toys were capable of having an ambition, they would all want to be inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame. But not every toy can get into the hall, which is located in Rochester, NY. If they didn’t have stringent requirements, toys like chattering teeth and the home version of the “Judge Judy Show” would be in the hallowed hall. In the 11 years that the Hall of Fame has been in existence, only 44 toys have made the cut. This year, the Big Wheel, the Gameboy, and — hold on to your Silly Putty — the wheel. That’s right. Considered one of the first and greatest inventions, the wheel had been neglected until this year. Even though it certainly deserves recognition — the stick and the ball were inducted earlier — I doubt that many of you will be buying a wheel for your favorite tot.
Kids might love having a wheel just as toddlers love playing with the box that toys come in. However, advertising and peer pressure aren’t going to allow those simple things to be popular gifts. Let’s just say that I don’t think Toys ‘R Us is going to have a run on wheels this year. Below are some categories of toys that probably will be selling well. You decide if you think any of them will end up in the Toy Hall of Fame.
Games that you really don’t have to buy because when I was a kid you could have them for free<p>
These include things like Battleship, Jotto and Pictionary. I actually saw a Tic-Tac-Toe game selling for $19.95. I wonder how much they charge for a box of hide and seek.
Toys that make sure kids don’t play like we used to<p>
These toys contribute to the couch potato generation. There is a snowball launcher so children won’t have to actually throw snowballs themselves. Also in this category are all kinds of video and computer games, and of course the extremely popular Wii. The Wii allows the entire family to pretend to play all kinds of games in their living room that they could be playing for real outside.
You’ve got to be kidding toys<p>
Leading off this category is the Pump Action Marshmallow Blaster. This ridiculous waste of food and money is capable of shooting marshmallows a distance of 40 feet. Unfortunately, there is no literature with this toy that explains why anyone would want to shoot marshmallows a distance of 40 feet. A trivia game with one of the most unfortunate names is called, Beat the Parents. I hope that none of the kids out there try to combine their Beat the Parents game with this year’s toy, Medieval Axe. And don’t worry, toy stores will be selling everything that has to do with “New Moon,” a charming story about vampires.
‘Hot’ toys for 2009<p>
When I say, “hot toy,” I don’t mean something like the classic Easy Bake Oven (a member of the Hall of Fame). A very popular toy this year is the Zhu Zhu pet hamster. Kids have always loved hamsters. Of course, since this is 2009, these cute little hamsters are battery operated. For a treat, do you feed them artificial bugs? According to those who claim to know, the Toy Of the Year may turn out to be various versions of Bakugan. In case you’re like me and have been sleeping under a rock — hey, remember the Pet Rock? — Bakugans are toy warriors that are tucked into spheres and then rolled out onto a game card. It might not sound like fun to you, but they just may make kids forget the remote controlled tarantula.
So, which toy or toys do you think will be in the Toy Hall of Fame someday? It’s hard to predict. However, if I were in the in the toy business, I think I would be trying to patent and package a game called Tag. And no, it’s not in the Hall of Fame yet.
Lloyd Garver has written for many television shows, ranging from “Sesame Street” to “Family Ties” to “Home Improvement” to “Frasier.” He has also read many books, some of them in hardcover. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his Web site at lloydgarver.com and his podcasts on iTunes.