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A Toy Story

A look at holiday gifts past and present


Kids today don't know just how good they have it when it comes to toys. I can only imagine the confusion that would ensue if a kid were expecting a PlayStation 4 for Christmas, only to open up an Atari instead. If you're kid has been taking their gifts for granted, why not teach them a lesson in humility by swapping out a Christmas toy from this year with a vintage one? It may seem a bit cruel, but you can bet they'll hear the message. Here's just a few toys you could make the swap for.

Today's Gift: Doc McStuffins Deluxe Get Better Check-Up Center

Yes, it's a toy based on an innocent Disney show about a doctor who fixes toys in her backyard, but I think we're all in agreement it sounds like a low-budget porn flick. "The doctor's in, who's ready for a McStuffin?" Sheesh. Anyways, it comes with everything you need to play doctor, like a lab coat and a doctor's first aid kit that surely doesn't include anything inappropriate.

Back in the day: Dr. Doodle Pull Toy (1931)

It's a duck dressed up like a doctor who, when you pull the string on his back, he rolls forward and quacks. He doesn't have a lab coat or a first aid kit for you, and the only diagnosis you'll ever get out of him is "quack," but hey, he'll make your friends laugh. Sure, they're laughing at you and your pitiful toy, but a laugh's a laugh. Right?


Today: Razor Crazy Cart

The Crazy Cart should be called the "out-of-your-mind-for-buying-this-for-your-kids cart." It can drive forward, reverse, sideways, and diagonally. It also has no kind of protection for the driver. Imagine driving around in bumper cars with no doors and no bumpers. Area hospitals, get ready for the Crazy Cart.

Back in the day: Radio Flyer Little Red Wagon (1917)

It's red like the Crazy Cart. That's about all the similarities though; well, except the dangerous part. Sure it doesn't seem that dangerous, but throw a steep hill into the equation — and everybody did — and you'll see what I mean. It can go forward and backward, although it requires your friend, usually the biggest of the group, to push or pull you. Then the pusher/puller wants to ride in the wagon, but you don't want to give them a ride, and just like that! Friendship ruined.

Today: Mega Bloks Call of Duty: Heavy Armor Outpost

The "Call of Duty" craze of recent years is still going like hotcakes at a breakfast buffet, and now there's a set of COD toys aimed right at the kiddies. It comes with a boatload of realistic guns, combat accessories, and a free year's subscription to Guns & Ammo. OK, so it doesn't really come with the magazine subscription, but it does come with enough toy firepower to make my own childhood's treasured G.I. Joes look like My Little Ponies.


Back in the day: Army Men (1938)

These little green army figures came in a variety of different action poses. Seeing as they weren't moveable, you had to use your imagination to get the most out of them. Or, if you were really creative you could use a lighter to mold them into household items like a bowl, or heroically juxtapose them in the path of a moving van. Not that I ever did that...

Today: Leapfrog LeapPad Ultra

The LeapPad Ultra is basically a tablet for kids that is supposed to be used for educational purposes. There are apps, music, games and a camera that come on it though, so I'm skeptical about the word educational being attached to the description. There's also a child-safe web browser, so I sense the most education kids will get from this is which videos are the funniest on YouTube.


Back in the day: Etch A Sketch (1960)

Well, it has a screen like the LeapPad Ultra.In place of all the features above are two knobs which enable you to move a magnet that then draws on the screen. It's fun for the first hour, but then you run into a future art major whose drawing puts yours to shame and you come to the realization that, despite your parent's encouragement, you can't draw. A real dream crusher.

Today: Nerf Rebelle Heartbreaker Bow and Arrow

In light of the recent string of movie heroines with bows, such as Katniss from "The Hunger Games," and Merida from "Brave," Nerf decided to cash in by making a bow just for girls. Well, the boys could get them too, but their friends will razz them for a long time. They'll start asking you things like "Hey, did that bow come with a tiara?" and "What happened on yesterday's 'General Hospital?'" But I digress. The bow fires Nerf darts up to 75 feet, so you can hit far away targets easily.

Back in the day: Actual Bow and Arrow (9,000 BCE)

This was a kid's gift back in the day? Well,, I guess the firearm laws weren't so great then either. It takes longer to learn how to use than the Nerf version, but once you get it down you have a skill for life. And, if you bring this to the next neighborhood Nerf war, you will not only leave with victory, but also with the respect/overwhelming fear of the other neighborhood kids. Sure a lawsuit will shortly follow, and you might see time in juvy, but at least you won the Nerf war. It's the little things.

Today: Furby Boom

Fun fact about Furbys: they aren't allowed in NSA offices. Seriously. My problem is why they are allowed to even be made in the first place, as these things are all kinds of creepy. Just look at those eyes. The newest abomination known as Furby Boom responds to you, dances to your music, speaks Furbish (basically a satanic language), and changes personalities based on how you treat it.

Back in the day: Talky Tina from "The Twilight Zone"/ Chucky (1963/1988)

Much like the Furby Boom, Talky Tina and Chucky will respond to you and change their personalities based on how you treat them. You'll want to treat them as nice as you possibly can, as they can tend to be a little on the moody/psychotic side, but that's what makes them so much fun. The dolls also come equipped with the ability to put the fear of God into your children.

In This Guide...

  • Holiday Guide 2013

    Vegan holidays, fighting a fear of santa, toys past and present, a holiday events guide, and more!

  • Holistic for the holidays

    Giving the gift of wellness
    The holidays are a stressful time, and this stress can take its toll on mind, body, and soul. We live in a world where we bombard our bodies with electrical signals, sit all day in uncomfortable positions, and go entire days without interacting with the earth's natural settings.

  • He sees you when you're sleeping

    On fearing Saint Nick
    The whole notion of Santa Claus had always creeped me out. I wish I could say that, as an adult, this skepticism has lifted—but it hasn't.

  • Moving past the Turkey

    How to Vegan-ize the Holidays
    Last year, I spent a few months halfheartedly attempting veganism. When I first considered eating that way, one thing came to mind: substitutes.

  • 2013 Holiday Events Calendar

    Continuing/Ongoing [Exhibit] Annual Holiday Poinsettia Show at Lamberton Conservatory.