Walking an elephant at the mall is still fun

My son loves the iPad.

He has complex machines that make sounds, trucks with dozens of moving parts, electric trains, musical instruments, arts and crafts, tools and sports equipment, and more.

My son probably has more toys now than I ever had in my entire life.

But I’m pleased to report that a simple wooden toy on wheels, attached to a length of rope, has not lost its luster.

At least not yet.

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Are the machine guns really necessary?

My son was sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, playing with this tow truck. It looked cute, with large eyes in the windshield and a smile on the bumper.

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Then he pressed down on the roof of the cap, and out popped a twin pair of machine guns from the sides.

Still the inquisitive, anthropomorphized eyes. Still the smiling, anthropomorphized bumper. Just some added fire power in the event that a disabled motorist refuses to pay for services rendered.

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I’m not entirely opposed to toys like this. Your average Star Wars spaceship or action figure will undoubtedly be equipped with weapons of some kind, as will any number of similar toys. I’m fine with that.

But were machine guns really needed on this smiling, happy, anthropomorphized tow truck?

The Wizard of Oz versus Star Wars

Late last week I “stirred up a hornet’s nest” by writing a piece arguing that the reason Hasbro markets Easy Bake Ovens solely to girls is because the vast majority of children who want an Easy Bake Oven are girls, and the company has no obligation to the minority of boys who might want one.

This was not a chicken-or-egg debate over why more girls prefer the Easy Bake Oven than boys (though some wanted to make it one). I was simply arguing the logic behind Hasbro’s decision from a business perspective.  

But the chicken-or-egg debate is an interesting one as well, and one worth discussing. In terms of why more girls than boys prefer this toy, I thought this TED Talk was the perfect place to begin thinking about the issue:

Cardboard boxes rule

The cardboard box was inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame in 2005.

The idea of a Toy Hall of Fame is fairly stupid, but if there has to be one, the cardboard box most certainly belongs there.

I wrote a poem in honor of the cardboard box a few years ago, based upon a spring day when my friend and I spent an entire afternoon with a muddy hill and a refrigerator box. It actually won a contest and was published in the Beginnings magazine.


Save Your Money Next Time and Just Give Me the Box

Thank you Mother,
for the red, aerodynamic toboggan
that I found under the Christmas tree this morning,
with its chiseled runners and
precision steering wires.

But Mother dearest,
in the future,
please know that I have found nothing more exhilarating
than a steep, muddy hill
and a sturdy refrigerator box.