Tuesday, September 13, 2011


So the Smyths in Kidderminster is open and I did poke my head in while I was on Crossley, simply so I knew what was available for the younger members of the family. Essentially it's a Toys R Us - a big clean brightly painted warehouse with open shelves. There are signs hanging from the ceiling that vaguely match-up to what the shelves are displaying and the usual horrifying prices (for anyone over the age of 30 at least). I mean seriously £16.99 for for some paper and a binder so you can log on to a computer and print out a story about Disney's Cinderella alongside a converted photo of your daughter (the boys had Cars)!

Also vaguely scary nostalgia-wise - hey look at the Transformers; oh wait a second they're pose-able action figures that don't transform. Hell no we wouldn't have stood for that type of shit when I was a kid; they're Transformers that's what they do. The Halo toys were amusing given that the games they're based on are all 16 certificates... 16 year olds playing with action figures hmmm? Still don't get all the Themed Lego - congratulations you've spent £130 to build your own toy. Still it did look seriously awesome, but what else can you do with it - it's not as if you get a selection of things that these parts will make. I mean isn't that the point of Lego?

Oh and they also sell video games; so that's another to stand alongside the ranks of Comet, Currys/PC World in selling games at twice the price of Game Gamestation - yay?

Anyway grumpiness aside it's good to have the return of a dedicated toy store to the town. I shall most definitely have to take the Bratii so Major and I can tease Minor with all the things he won't be getting.


Orphi said...

Get the hell off my lawn!

No, seriously, trust me on this. When I was a kid, toys were still absurdly over-priced pieces of tat for the most part. (And if you think £17 for a computer code is bad, try paying £700 for a BackupExec Remote Agent license code…) I do remember playing with a friend's Transformers though. They actually transformed. And they were made of metal.

I watched James May one time, going on about various antique toys. At one point he told us about a toy he begged and begged his parents to get. It was apparently absurdly expensive, but every kid wanted to have one. Eventually, he got it. And it turns out it was rubbish. “Sorry, mum.”

From the looks of the TV advert, this is from an era when colour TV was still a new innovation. So it seems that for several decades toy makers have been ripping people off with cheap tat sold for absurd prices.

The Lego thing is just baffling. The entire purpose for Lego existing is to be able to make anything you can imagine! If you make special Lego sets which can only be used to build one particular thing, you have just defeated the entire purpose of the toy! Sheesh…

Actually, I never played with Lego all that much, but when we were kids we had something called Contrux. Apparently they don't make it any more, which is a shame, because it was great fun. Basically you have long beams with 8-way connectors joining them, and flat panels that would snap in to suitably-sized voids. It also had motors and lights, and even simple switches. Ah, great days.

Hell, when I was a kid, I had (several) electronics kits. The boxes boasted about how many different circuits you could wire up. (It's not difficult to come up with three different oscillators and call it three “projects”.) Last time I was in Maplin, I saw they had several kits exactly like this, but each one only builds one thing. *facepalm* Yeah, and I bet the manual teaches you a lot of theory too. :-P

Then again, if you want to be truly horrified, go watch the Thunderbirds film that came out recently. Now I'm sure I don't need to tell you this, but arguably one of the best-loved thing about TB was that it was a show for kids, but it didn't talk down to them. It expected children to actually comprehend complex ideas and evaluate different strategies and, you know, think. And I know me and my siblings were addicted to that show. We'd all sit there trying to figure out what TB would do before they went and did it. It was great!

The TB film is… Well, it's a completely generic summer blockbuster stampout. Complete with the theme tune provided by Busted (that's apparently some kind of hip & trendy boyband). Three kids live on Tracey Island, they all have parent issues, evil guy tries to take over the world, all the adults are trapped and slowly dying, and the kids are the only ones who can save the day. Which they do through a series of over-the-top and highly implausible scenarios. Oh, and two of them fall in love and make smooches at the end.

Yeah, that sounds totally like Thunderbirds, right?

The whole film is big brightly-coloured plastic-looking machines straight out of a comic book. There is no science, there is no engineering. Even the sciencey bits look plastic and fake. It's a cheap imitation of the original. If this was just called Three Kids Save The World, it would be a naff film. But as it's named Thunderbirds and uses a lot of the superficial things about the original, it's actually an insult.

God I feel old! :'{

FlipC said...

Oh don't get me wrong some of it was rubbish, but for the most part they still actually did something rather than simply be.

I mean Action Man could be used in various vehicles and outfits, some of the Transformers, or MASK toys could be half-transformed and looked even more impressive then if played with 'properly'. The Action Force (GI Joe) figures were the only ones that were closest to not doing anything per se, but even then the vehicles generally did something.

With the Lego I had a lot of the space sets, but they came with a minimum of two arrangements, but it worked with the non-space range too. I could take a space monorail and thread it through a castle.

I mean sure there's nothing stopping someone from using the bits that came with a special set in other constructions or adding bits on to the 'proper' build; but I think these single plan kits don't encourage that.

As for Thunderbirds I caught the trailer for the new film and thought "I am not watching that" and it sounds like I made the right choice. Seriously what is the thinking that a child won't be able to relate to a film unless a child is made the main focus? Is it related to the same thinking that Americans won't like a film that doesn't star Americans?

The Bratii are mad Doctor Who and Star Wars fans; Minor's a big fan of The Goodies and Red Dwarf. Devil's Child can't get enough of the Jack Black-starring King Kong. No child stars in any of that.

But yes we're old and that's a good thing provided we can keep the rose-tinted glasses at bay.