Toy Story

Posted: Monday, December 7, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Let’s be honest, shall we?  Christmas to a child is all about the toys. 
Oh, I know..your kids are different because you’ve made darn sure that they understand and appreciate the true reason for the season and all that, but once they see those  brightly wrapped boxes under the tree with their name on it..well, it’s goodbye Jesus and hello Santa…at least until they’re all opened. 
By the way, do people still wrap presents in colorful paper anymore or have most of you switched to the convenience of using bags with a picture of Santa on the outside and some red tissue on top concealing the contents?  Not as messy, of course, but watching children tear  into a scotch-taped package sending the paper flying in every direction was part of the fun and a tradition that’s fading fast.
We want so much for our kids and grandkids to be thrilled by the gifts we and Santa give but on Christmas morning, some of them turn into greedy little grinches checking to make sure nobody else got more presents than they did and upset if they don’t get everything they were expecting and jealous of those who did.
Well, this Christmas, millions of little kids are expecting Santa to bring them Zhu Zhu Pets; the season’s hottest new toy…and millions are going to be disappointed because most every store is sold out of them.The popularity of these little robotic hamsters, that squeak and laugh and roll around the floor, is puzzling. They cost about ten bucks a piece but kids want all all the accessories..which can run the bill up to well over a hundred bucks. Not surprisingly Bernie Madoff-types have been taking advantage of the situation buying up Zhu Zhu pets and re-selling them on e-bay for exorbitant sums.
When I was a kid, back in the dark ages, toy makers were just starting to realize the power of television as a marketing tool for influencing young minds; creating a huge demand for their stuff.  Today they’ve got it down to a science.
Here’s a chart that might jog some memories of you driving a hundred miles in search of that Cabbage Patch doll or Pong game that all the stores were out of. These are rated as the top toys over the last five decades.
One of my favorite memories was when my mom got tired of listening to her grandkids fighting over each others toys and not sharing. She sat them down at the table and brought out a bag of empty thread spools she kept in the buffet drawer. She said, “let’s see who can stack these the highest without them falling over.”
Before long, all of us came in from the other parts of the house to see what all the laughter and excitement was about.
Mom would be pleased to know that those very same spools are still working their magic with her great, great granddaughter, Ella.
Too bad she didn’t mass market them on TV..she’d would of made a killin’.

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