Originally posted 15 Dec 2010
Do you have fond memories of a certain toy? Maybe it’s a game you used to love playing or a tv show you loved as a child. Have you ever had the chance to revisit that show or game or toy and only to find that it’s not nearly as awesome as you once thought? One surprise (among many) for me, as a new father, was that some things that used to be awesome, somehow seem to suck now!
Either time had done something to these things or it had done something to me.
This could easily have beat out Lego for the toy that I played with most as a child and over the biggest range of age groups. My Mom would even make play dough for us to use. But for some reason, as a Dad, Play Dough seems to suck and I dread having to get it out for Owen to play with.
For one thing, it stinks now. Literally. I never remembered such a strong chemical smell to my Play Dough we had as children.
And then there’s the mess! Even once you’ve put it all back in the containers, there are still little tiny chunks of it that turn up afterwards. No matter how careful you are! I’ll be sitting at the table having breakfast two or three days after we played with Play Dough and as I lift my arm from the table to bring food to my mouth I see the bottom of my arm has a case of green and blue measles!
Remember that show you loved when you were a kid and your parents always hated to watch it with you? Man, were they ever stupid for not liking that awesome show right?
WRONG! They didn’t like that show, because it sucked. You were just too young and didn’t care about things like plot, dialogue and a show that makes sense. They were adults and it drove them bananas.
There are a few exceptions in every generation, I suppose (Animaniacs comes to mind), but overall you’d be better off leaving your favorites from the past safely buried in your rose-coloured memory. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and revisit one or two of your favorites but be warned: you might want to do it when your kids aren’t around in case they take a liking to it before you realise how incredibly right I am about this.
Not that new cartoons are any better. Super Hero Squad snagged Owen’s interest about a year ago. Luckily I got him diverted on to other things before my wife and I gouged our own eyes out. And don’t even get me started on the Animal Mechanicals, that Sasquach guy is such a douche! I just wanted Komodo to totally go mechana-crazy on him one day…
Or how about the Smurfs? Ok, the Smurfs might never have been “awesome.” But I did enjoy them. As an adult, I’ve watched some of the old cartoons and I was shocked by how much I hate that show. There’s one main reason: those Smurfs are a bunch of A-holes! They’re mean to each other! And at first I thought maybe I was just viewing it through modern PC goggles. I’m not a particularly PC guy, but maybe my modern sensibilities were colouring my experience. But as I watched more and more, I came to hate them all. Even Papa Smurf, who supposedly loves all of the other Smurfs. Bastard. I hope Gargamel and Azrael eat every last one of them. The new movies rehabilitate them of course. But I know their roots, they’re not fooling me.
Transformers. There was pretty much nothing cooler when I was 9 or 10 years old. Whether we’re talking about the toys, the tv show or the movie (I’m talking the 1986 animated one, not one of those Michael Bay ones). As an adult I find the toys ridiculously difficult to transform (I swear it’s not just my age!). As a kid, I remember following the instructions once…maybe twice and then you had it down. As an adult, I can follow the instructions and it still doesn’t work out right. The TV show is still mildly fun, but very badly written and often has many of those glitches that are unique to the pre-computer age of animated cartoons. Like repeating sequences over and over in different contexts and hoping we don’t notice the scenery and action are exactly the same, only the dialogue has changed. The movie holds up the best overall, despite its many flaws. But still not as cool as it was that time I saw it in theater in ’86.
When I was a kid, we had a lot of board games. I LOVED to play board games. And my favorite to play was Mouse Trap because it had this big elaborate machine and, if all of it went right, the mouse trap cage would fall and hopefully catch one of your opponents underneath it. My parents for some reason, never seemed to want to play it with me…
The trap was of course the whole point of the game for me.
You turned a crank, which rotated a vertical gear connected to a horizontal gear, that gear pushed an elastic-loaded lever, which hit a swinging boot. That caused the boot to kick over a bucket, sending a marble down a zig-zagging incline which fed into a chute. The marble then hit a vertical pole, at the top of which was an open hand, palm-up, which knocked a larger ball through a hole in its platform into a bathtub, and then through a hole in the tub onto one end of a seesaw. That launched a diver on the other end into a tub which was on the same base as the barbed pole that supported the mouse cage. The movement of the tub would (hopefully) shake the cage free from the top of the pole and allow it to fall. Was that a bit complicated sounding? Was it a bit of a pain to read? Now imagine setting it up for your kids. Now remember that one of the points of the game is that the mouse trap doesn’t always work. So imagine setting it up 15-20 times for a single game! No wonder my parents never wanted to play it!
Another game I loved as a kid, but we never owned, was called Hungry Hungry Hippos. I had played it at a friend’s house when I was 6 or 7 and it was on every Christmas list I had from then until I turned 10 or so. And I never got it. So when Owen was three he got it for Christmas from my wife and I. It didn’t take long for me to regret that decision.
THE NOISE! Marbles rolling around on plastic, plastic hippos slapping down on the plastic game top, the extendable plastic neck pieces scraping by each other, the plastic handles being slammed down by little hands! I could go down to the basement and still hear it like it was on top of my skull!
I HATE Hungry Hungry Hippos!
Hungry, Hungry Hippos = Grumpy, Grumpy Daddy!
Having said all that, I do realise that my son enjoys these things, just like I enjoyed equally annoying things when I was a child. So I remind myself of how happy it made me when my parents would play Mouse Trap with me, or allow me to watch that really awesome (at least to me) show that I liked. And so I suck it up and we play the game or watch the show. I even pretend to like it.
Sometimes I even do. And sometimes I get to introduce Owen to something that was awesome then and is still awesome now.
Star Wars anyone?
How about you?
I there anything you used to love as a kid, that just doesn’t live up to your memories?