When I try to put myself into the mindset of someone who markets toys I get dizzy. I suspect that a majority of this feeling has to do with the concept of how much of my soul I would have to sell to make some of these things look like they would be fun for more than about 3 minutes.
At least I'm in touch with what selling your soul feels like. That should give me points (one way or the other) in the afterlife.
I love toys. And I'm guilty of having some of the toys that you are about to see in these commercials (and I won't lie-you'll know). But... egad! Some of these things should be pictured in the dictionary next to the word "Lame."
Let's take a look at a few of these fine products-and how marketing gurus attempt to make them look like the coolest things ever...
Toy Commercial #1: Mice Hockey
That is possibly the most lame thing I've ever seen. I'm convinced that there was really no other way to shoot this commercial. The poor director must have had a small seizure when he realized what he'd gotten into.
What's horrible is that my brain went into some land where a real mouse was scrambling around in that little hell pit... and the game was more fun.
I don't like that part of myself...
Toy Commercial #2: Love ‘n Licks Puppy
The fact that this toy doesn't do anything other than drool on you is enough for me to cry "Lame!" How many shots of this thing's dripping tongue do we need?
And the fact that your asshole friend (we all have one of these) could fill it full of urine, so that you would receive a "special" gift when it licked you, pretty much solidified my position on this toy.
And speaking of bodily fluids:
Toy Commercial #3: Milky
Um... Let's think about this. Hours of entertainment? I'm just not seein' it. Maybe it could be used as some sort of micro-training tool on farms?
It doesn't even have laser eyes or kung-fu grip.
Toy Commercial #4: Slime Monster Game
I'm guilty of having a part of this. As a child of the 70s, I jumped on the Slime craze big time. That stuff was just... well, just plain cool. It didn't really stick on anything, it was monster-like (c'mon... The Blob was great!), and it smelled nice. Yeah, I said it. Sue me.
I never had the Monster Game, however. And I'm kind'a glad. The commercial makes it look like the slowest (and for the action figure, the most painful) game ever-if it's the Blob from the movies, that is. You know... the one that eats flesh.
Toy Commercial #5: Mr. Microphone
It's safe to say that this was one of the most popular ads of its time. The line "Hey, good lookin'! We'll be back to pick ya up later!" is still circulating 20 years later.
I wish The Blob ate everyone involved with this product.
Toy Commercial #6: Baby Laugh-a-Lot
This is not the first time I've posted this ad. And there's a reason: If you EVER see any of this type of behavior in your child, get an Exorcist as quickly as possible.
What a creepy commercial!
Think about buying this thing for your kid... and then hearing that maniacal laughter over... and over... and over... and over... and over... and over... and over... and over... and over... And OVER.
You'd make Jack Nicholson in The Shining look sane.
Toy Commercial #7: Baby Wee-Wee
If this thing laughed maniacally and peed on me, you'd have to set me up with a straightjacket and a good prescription.
And I'm not too keen on letting my little girl check out this doll's junk. There has to have been a better way to shoot this commercial... I just can't think of one.
Speaking of creepy:
Toy Commercial #8: Kinder
Words can't even begin to express my terror.
Toy Commercial #9: Batmobile
I'm guilty of having this toy when I was a kid. I loved it. C'mon. You can't blame me. It was the Batmobile!
But, even as a kid, I noticed that it had issues with scale. Just look how huge all of the people are compared to the car! It would be like if Batman tooled around in a jazzed up Smart Car.
Toy Commercial #10: Battling Tops
I'm guilty of having this toy as well. What I remember the most about it was how the tops would randomly fly out of the arena, then bounce all over the room. The commercial does a good job of selling the "battling" nature of these tops; that's pretty much what it looked like in real life.
As much as I'd like to, I can't bring myself to labeling Battling Tops as a lame toy. I mean, of course it is lame-but it was pretty fun...
You have to give the marketing folks some props. They do their best to make these toys look exciting-though I suspect there's truly no way to make the milking of a miniature cow into an action-packed play scenario.
And these commercials herald back to a time when the toys had to be on screen. The marketing gurus could not fall back on computer generated, self-moving toy representations; they had to actually put the product itself on-screen with kids really playing with it.
That takes guts.
Smart Car photo by Jane Tierney
Clever Ads, Promotions and Marketing