Pour One Out – Laser Time #323

With the recent shuttering of Toys R Us, the Laser Time gang is taking a nostalgic look at that and several other childhood mainstays that no longer exist, as well as the reasons why. And please, let us know in the comments below what things from your youth are gone but not entirely forgotten in the comments below so we can discuss them further on an upcoming episode of Bonus Time, Laser Time’s Patreon exclusive show!






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35 thoughts on “Pour One Out – Laser Time #323

  1. Man, where to begin? A department store chain called Hill’s that I grew up with and loved. They had a wonderful toys department. So much so that their jingle was “Hill’s is where the toys are!”. I bought my G1 Optimus Prime on Layaway there when I was 10 or 11.

    Kiddie City was another large toy store from my youth. That went out of business when I was still young. Not many memories of it other than its mascot of a kangaroo.

    Suncoast Pictures…where I bought my first anime VHS tapes (Fist of the North Star and Vampire Hunter D.)

    The Wall, where I bought way too many CDs and cassettes. I still have a couple CDs that has their “Lifetime Guarantee” sticker on the case.

    I have to stop. I’m feeling way old all of a sudden. I’m turning 44 this year and remembering all this things from my youth that are gone is just a bummer. The world has moved on and I feel stuck in the past.

    Great show though!

  2. The woods that were behind my house growing up. About a decade ago they were torn up for a new housing development, but the neighborhood kids and I used to spend hours back there making forts, playing make-believe, and even once shooting our own Blair Witch Project style film (creatively titled “The Blair Bitch Project” because we were in middle school).

  3. I’m really glad you touched on DZ discovery zone! I really wish there was a place like that for adults to just jump around and kinda go crazy, climb up cargo nets, throw ball pit balls at one another. Here’s a funny video that the workers at my local Discover Zone made it’s a real piece of art. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWK64LNM3Xk We also had a offbrand Chuck E. Cheese called Major Magic’s which lasted all the way up to the 2010’s! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OMp6ZMHw_Y Here’s a look at it in it’s nearly empty state.

    Speaking of *Discovery* the Discovery Channel store is another part of my childhood I really miss. Full of cool science experiments you could take home, as well as extravagant tech gadgets that boarded on the Brookstone level of wastefully lavish like the caller-id globe you’d plug into your landline phone.

    Also Nickelodeon magazine, coming home from school to see if this months issue came, or reading and reading old issues during ‘break time’ in class. It was full of laughs, comics, and pranks to play on friends, even just picking up a tips and tricks to read while my parents went grocery shopping.

    1. I remember the Diacovery Channel Store, mostly because it had the interesting tagline, “so much to touch”. Even as a kid, I would smile over the commercial’s voice-over guy saying it.

  4. Oh jezz. Um how bout Ames and caldors. I remember as a kid going there all the time. Any way you all rock it hard. Thanks for making my day so much more fun.

  5. I’m a little older than Chris and Dave (not sure about Matthew; I hit 41 last week) and so this was a fuckin’ hoot. As someone who was too big a loser to really and truly enjoy myself at skating rinks, my favorite thing was always the limbo. (Yes, limbo on skates. EVERYONE busted their ass, so there was no shame in it.)

    And as for Chuck E. Cheese and Showbiz, my memory as a kid was always that the Showbiz band did “straight” covers, but Chuck E Cheese used classic rock songs but changed all the songs to be about pizza, like they were Macaulay Culkin or some shit.

  6. I honestly will be surprised if Barnes and Noble will be around in 10 years. That’s the last big chain bookstore that’s left. I don’t know if you guys have been in one recently, but like 1/3 of it now is devoted to collectibles. I think they’ve had to shift to that just to stay afloat. I don’t think it’s gonna keep them for long though, because the collectibles are WAY overpriced.

    I think Amazon and Kindle are going to kill bookstores. Luckily, used bookstores still seem to be doing ok, mostly because it’s nice to get books on the cheap.

    1. My town has a new type of Barnes and Noble (apparently there are only four of them across the US) that is part bookstore, part coffee shop, part bar, part restaurant. You can buy a coffee/beer/wine and walk around the bookstore while you drink, or have a sit-down meal at the restaurant. It does reek of desperation to get people into the store.

  7. I’m not really sure where they got the idea that Chuck E. Cheese isn’t around anymore. I see commercials for them almost daily on Cartoon Network still.

    Maybe they just don’t have them out west anymore or something, but they’re definitely around here still.

  8. I miss Borders Book Store. Yes they were a little bit pricey but they were so massive and very relaxing to be in. I was normally found in the DVD/CD section, graphic novels or Magazine section of the store because that’s what I liked to look at the most. If they were still around today however, they would have a dedicated Funko Pop section that would eat into the DVD/CD part but alas they shut a year before Pop Vinyls took off.

    Also if I would predict the next thing to go the way of the dodo…….uhhh…..Republican’s.

  9. I’d argue malls will be around longer than you suspect. Serramonte in Daly City is/has expanded, Great Mall in Milpitas is still around, the Mall of America is still a thing…the malls in San Jose are still pretty busy, and I was actually at the SF shopping center last week, and it was still busy as ever. Unless Amazon finally takes over the world, malls will still be around…or die a long prolonged death. GameStop will be obsolete sooner than we think.
    As for pouring out…let’s pour out for some of these stores…WB Studio Store, I was surprised they went under, especially when Harry Potter films were taking off…speaking of films, Virgin Megastore and Suncoast too…those used to be my go to stores. Glad you guys mentioned Q-zar and DZ, used to love those places as a kid.

  10. Japan is still a haven for smoking sections. Even Dennys, McDonald’s, Burger King still have smoking sections there. I was a smoker all the times I went to Japan and it was amazing to be treated with such dignity.

  11. Half of this stuff is still alive and well in the Midwest. Chuck E. Cheese is healthy. There are big play places that started life as Discovery Zone with the serial numbers filed off and outlasted the chain they were copying. Massive combo arcade/go kart/whatever places are stilll around. Mini golf is going strong. We even have new McDonalds with indoor play places, although the ancient Mayor McCheese play place at the McDs near where I grew up was finally gutted and removed.

    Maybe it’s a bigger city thing where these things aren’t around, but in smaller cities and suburbia a lot of it is still kicking. I even have a Family Viseo store within a twenty minute drive.

    1. That does remind me that even though Ronald, Grimace, and the Hamburglar aren’t used in advertising, they’re still on the paper placemats.

  12. The thing I miss from my childhood that I miss is Microplay(Technically it still exists, but not really outside Quebec any longer and my local store is long gone).

    Microplay was a video game store that did new and used game sales and as well as rentals and let me tell you they had everything. If you really, REALLY wanted to play Highlander: The Last of the MacLeods you could rent that game, as well as the Atari Jaguar and Jaguar CD to play it from them.

    I used to dabble in all the next gen systems renting them for the weekend. I couldn’t afford $800 for a 3DO, But I had $40 to rent it and Road Rash and Super Street Fighter II Turbo for the weekend.

    They even imported and rented out systems before they came out in North America. I played Ridge Racer and Mario 64 months before they released here and oh man my mind was blown.

  13. I’m not sure why Chris thinks Hawaii doesn’t have any internet, as far as I know even the farther parts of the smaller islands do okay, maybe not great cellphone signals, and there aren’t any video stores any more, just Redbox, as far as I know, since I live in Honolulu, the smaller areas may have small video stores, but I haven’t seen any.

    A lot of this show really hits people who grew up in the 80’s, our parents didn’t have as much connection to all these things that have gone, and Millenials didn’t have to rely on them once the internet came along. I wonder if Millenials have anything they connected with that’s gone away that we older folks didn’t connect with?

  14. I can’t believe that this guy described what a mall was to us.

    (I used to read the emails at deadmalls. Whoo boy the weird emails we would get)

  15. I live right by a Chuck E. Cheese’s, and in fact we just had my daughter’s 3rd birthday there. I love it there, as it’s a secure and fun place for kids. I still fail to understand why they serve alcohol there however.

  16. Nickel arcades! I feel like these were very short-lived, or maybe just very local to the midwest where I grew up because I talk about them and a lot of people don’t know what I’m talking about.

    These were arcades that had an entry fee, usually about five bucks or so, but once you got in all the machines ran on nickels instead of quarters. So even a pricey machine that would normally cost you 75 cents would only end up costing you fifteen. These were amazing when you were a late middle school/early high school kid which is exactly where I was when they sort of exploded all over Des Moines.

    I have nothing to back this up, but since no one knows what I’m talking about when I bring this up, part of me always wondered if maybe it was an experiment that someone tried back home, did well on in the short-term, then they either opened up a bunch more and overspent themselves, or maybe they just had their idea stolen by a bunch of other people. All I know is when I was a kid there was one, then there were like four at once, then there were none ever again.

  17. The last Blockbuster in the Continental U.S. closed a couple of months ago here in South Texas. We have internet and everything here, it has nothing to do with access to streamable data. It was owned by a franchise and it was nice to see a store with decent selection (especially of old action movies). The franchise owner I believe is the same guy that owns the Alaska locations. Unfortunately it was kind of a ghost town because everyone thought it had already closed, so they closed this January.

    I miss local, non-shitty movie stores, pre-Blockbuster, but that died a death years ago. Fortunately Austin still has a movie rental business.

    1. I still remember when Blockbuster came to East Texas. They swallowed our biggest local chain whole, it only ended up keeping one location open which slowly went from “porn in the back” to “a porno store that would also have the newest Star Trek and Die Hard.” By the time I left, there was one other non-BB non-Hastings video store left, and they stayed afloat on a mix of porn, anime, HK action, fucked up European horror, and games Blockbuster didn’t bother to order (along with the big stuff).

      And having been in Austin for nearly 10 years now, I remember how insane people went when Movie Store closed (at which point I was at the Criss Cole center for the blind).

  18. This episode hits super deep. To start with, like Hank I worked at Blockbuster for years. There is still at least one building in Vancouver that has the outline of the logo across the front of the building above the new signage, but that thing was built in to front of the building as I’m sure is the case especially in smaller towns where they cant afford to just rip down and rebuild a storefront…so their legacy will live on for a while still. Secondly, smoking sections: I grew up in Calgary, Alberta (Canada) and it gets fucking cold there in the winters. In junior high and high school my friends and I would just hang out at Dennys, order the bottomless coffee and chainsmoke for hours. Chuck E Cheese was pretty terrible, I always preferred Rocky & Bullwinkles, which had the same shitty animatronics and lame midway, I just liked it better – also we didnt really have Discovery Zone, we had Bonkers, but it sounds like the same thing. Love the show, good luck with the move and everything Chris, hope to hear you on Talking Simpsons again, and really hope Thirty, Twenty, Ten continues because I look forward to it probably even more than LASERTIME.

  19. i hate to be a debby downer, and knock someone down who is doing something they love, but this new guy is no me gusta. when he said bye felicia, my eyes nearly rolled out of my head, and it didn’t improve from there. yeesh. he cuts across everyone so many times, and he is so uninteresting and his anecdotes or whatever, man, if you brought him on to make chris and dave look like the most entertaining guys alive, bravo. make brett quit his job and come back plz.

  20. Great episode guys. I share the sentiment about missing things like the local video store. It was just fun to go because back then getting a movie was like an event, and it was fun to just look at the aisles of videos, seeing some of the titles you’ve never heard of, and finding out Steven Segal has a prominent career in direct to video movies. Same with going the local arcade, it was an event because those games were technologically beyond what you could play at home, and you’d discover brand new ones.

    One thing I really miss from my childhood is magazines. In particular, I read a lot of Nintendo Power as a really little kid, and then through my teens read Wizard magazine, and the occasional issue of EGM.

    Also, regarding malls, for what it’s worth, I understand that retail in general is suffering, but I think malls are still a teenage hangout. Just today I saw a group of them just sitting and hanging out in a quiet corner of my local mall, because they could plug in their phones there.

  21. Great Episode! I am a Patreon and a huge fan of your shows. I have always thought of Austin TX as a place where my childhood will never die. We still have toy stores and video rental stores with a very loyal fanbase.



  22. Its funny…

    I’m from Long Island and I’m blessed enough to have a dead mall and a thriving mall right next to each other (seriously, within walking distance) for comparison’s sake. The dead mall is called The Source and it’s pretty much down to a Cheesecake Factory, a Dave and Busters and a couple other things. It’s biggest anchors – Circuit City and Fortunoff – have been vacant for years, and everything in the actual mall section is completely gone, including the food court.

    On the other hand, the other mall – Roosevelt Field – is one of the biggest malls in the country. And even though once in a while it loses a store that’s of interest to me – it just keeps getting bigger and bigger. The AMC theater was recently completely upgraded, they added a new wing with the addition of a Nieman Marcus and the parking is so bad they built another parking garage, and there were already a few of those to start with. The food court was recently redone completely and it’s always ridiculously busy, sometimes to the point where you can’t sit down. Also, believe it or not, they added an indoor mini golf course in the basement level, as well as a children’s play area.

    It’s crazy.

    1. When I moved out to California, there was/is a big outdoor mall called “BellaTerra” that had an abandoned Montgomery Ward as an anchor. I moved out here in 2008, so Montgomery Ward had already been out of business for 7 years by that point, and it stuck around for another 5 or six years before they tore it down to replace it with upscale apartments. That’s what seems to be happening with malls around here: They’re building in condos and apartments, then doubling down on the restaurants and home-goods stores to cater specifically to the people living in the apartments.

  23. Circus aren’t gone. The Shriner’s still travel with one and still have elephants and everything. They just weren’t as flashy for the animal rights people to go after. It was sad to see Ringling go. They actually did a lot of work for elephant conservation and research but no one paid attention to that.

  24. Oh man, as an ex Kay Bee and Sam Goody employee this was a good one. I wasn’t around for the fall of Kay Bee, but I worked at Sam Goody in its waning years and still had some friends there when it went under. Around 2002 Best Buy bought Musicland and it was all downhill from there. They wanted to turn SG into mini-Best Buys they could fit in a mall it failed miserably and they cut and run. After that Muscland went under in a short amount of time.

    Also, a town near me south of Boston had a Chuck E Cheese rip-off called Bonkers that also had mini carnival rides. It had better games than Chucks, but with blood and overly violent stuff turned off. It lasted for a few years in the 90s. Until the fateful day that the operator of a mini roller coaster wasn’t paying attention and a girls hair got caught in the ride and scalped.

  25. I…don’t understand the shopping mall being on here. Is this some kind of wierd San Francisco bubble thing? There are dozens and dozens of shopping malls still open and still doing well where I live. Are… are malls actually gone in the US or are the guys just making assumptions based on where they live?

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