What’s the oldest toy line that’s still on store shelves today? Join us on a journey through your childhood and beyond.
You could accuse your fine friends here at Laser Time of having an unhealthy obsession with toys. We’ve previously expounded on the virtues of Ninja Turtles, Transformers, He-Man, and the lost art of the “Gross Toy.”
Read on, or listen to our Laser Time podcast on the same subject.
But it’s not so much immaturity, or even the white hot beating heart of nostalgia on which this little venture called Laser Time thrives. Rather, it’s a fascination with characters and the stories they imbue that makes something stand the test of time, which validates an undying love for the likes of Hulk, Batman, Donatello and Donald Duck. These characters work, these characters matter, and if you don’t believe me, ask your children to explain it to you someday.
The “Classic Infant Trio” is not a character. We won’t be talking about it today. But you have a name for it now and you’re welcome.
I could walk through the Target music section tomorrow a not recognize a goddamn thing. But walking through the toy aisle, 80% of the stuff on shelves is immediately familiar to me, and I’d bet half of it would be familiar to my father. So I wanted to see which character in the toy aisle has best served the test of time at a glance. Who has held sway over young hearts and minds for the longest amount of time.
JURNALIZTIC DIZCLOSHUURS: I present my findings without bias, based on a recent trip to the San Francisco City Target. Said shop’s toy aisle appeared to be somewhat ravaged for an average Wednesday night, and I saw no Pokemon (1995), Adventure Time (2010), Winnie the Pooh (1926) nor Sesame Street (1969). I thought it was weird too.
Just tossing this in as the most recent example I could find. Zootopia is a Disney movie released in March 2016, and if you’re being cynical, these toys might be the sole reason it was made.
Represented by Rescue Marshall
If you haven’t heard of Paw Patrol, odds are you don’t have kids, nor were you born this decade. I have no idea whether or not they’re popular, but Nickelodeon is currently airing the third season of this canine-centric television show. Even though I’ll never watch a second of it, I think the idea of heroic puppies with heavy machinery is as adorable as it is awesome. The few commercials I’ve seen for PAW Patrol seems to be expressly market at girls, which is a helluva lot cooler than the garbage I saw peddled at our future women during the 80s and 90s.
I’m sure older folks will consider this little phenomenon as “new” but Minecraft’s has been around for almost five years. Half a decade. And that’s probably longer than most people my age were into He-Man. Or Yu-Gi-Oh cards, if ya wanna be super millennial shit about it. Today’s kids are starting to think Minecraft is out of fashion, which is frightening.
The idea of Despicable Me being the a movie about a super villain played by Steve Carell feels like a distant memory. The main character’s yellow, babbling worker bees stole the spotlight so hard, they went and made a movie series without Gru. I don’t hate the Minions, but personally found their pop culture ubiquity and constant inclusion in Facebook memes increasingly annoying. I’m only human! Thankfully, the Minions momentum looks to be dying down in this particular toy isle, as they were cordoned off from the main toy area onto their own little rack facing a wall. A nation breathes a sigh of relief.
Call of Duty
It’s easy to laugh at the Lego-wannabe Mega Bloks, and I often do. Despite a ridiculously “markety” name better suited for a Kool-Aid flavor, Bloks seems to have found itself a niche in scooping up licenses LEGO wouldn’t dare work with. He-Man might be the most universally recognized Mega Blok, but it would appear MB’s bread and butter is video game LEGO-alikes, having locked down Halo, Call of Duty and even Assassin’s Creed. I have no idea which game this particular Sub is based on, so let’s assume it’s from that game with the war being waged by homophobic preteens. However, I did double check and found that Mega Bloks has produced sets representing World War II, which dates back to Call of Duty universe’s (ugh) roots.
This makes me feel old… Here we have the first toy line that debuted when I was at an age where I could be arrested just for staring at it too long. Bratz feels new to me but the date doesn’t lie. The Bratz line barely predates 9/11 (never forget), and has gone on to spawn numerous albums, web/tv series, baby/pet spinoff toys, video games, and a theatrical movie.
Dora the Explorer
Here’s another trend that came in went in just the time I’ve been an adult. Just like me, Dora’s aged a little too; either through the natural causes of life, or a product redesign I’m completely unaware of. A million apologies for my ignorance, but it looks as if Dora’s hair is a little longer, plus her parents have finally triumphed over her imagination, quarantined that monkey, and forced their daughter into an extracurricular activity in order to compensate for their own lack of personal achievement.
Ready to leave the 2000s toys? Head on over to the NEXT PAGE for Power Rangers, Autobots, Bears that Care and a bunch of other stuff 80s kids will recognize.