Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Farewell To Toys R Us

It was recently announced that the last big box toy retailer, Toys R Us, will be closing. I think for anyone who grew up between 1970 to 2000, this store was a lot more than some large-scale toy depot. Going to Toys R Us could be much like a visit to Disneyland, it was a special occasion. As kids, we wandered through the cavernous isles filled with everything we could want. Parents spent many hours of their shopping time easily finding what they needed for birthdays, holidays and good report cards. This was before the internet age, when you can look for, find and purchase everything with the click of a button. That's the more preferred method now, and the future generation won't know what they're missing.

I can recall vividly many visits. One of my earliest memories going to Toys R Us was from 1982. I was still little enough to sit in the front of the shopping cart (or buggy). Small PVC figures of anthropomorphised food, called The Bunchkins, caught my eye. Corn E. Cobb, Beverley Broccoli, Rosanna Banana, Scat Scarecrow, Oscar Orange and Pierre Le Grape. They were on sale and I was allowed to get all six. I still have them, though some had to be replaced. I'm not sure what drew me to these and it seemed to start a common trend in things I liked. I suppose toys like these were like the precursors to the immensely popular Shopkins. Interestingly, Beverley Broccoli was my favorite - and she is the singer of the group and wears long opera gloves like another of my favorite characters.

Speaking of, one of the toys that illueded me in the 80's was the Jessica Rabbit Flexie figure. I can't tell you how many times I would run to the same spot where all the new Roger Rabit toys were, looking and hoping to find her. I bought all of the other characters, but Jessica never could be found. Eventually all the toys were put way back in that last isle, the clearance area. After time, they were all gone. It wasn't until a decade later that I found her when eBay came along.

In the most recent years many of the Toys R Us stores have closed, including the one near my house. It became rare for me to get there as the next one was a good 45 minute drive away. Though I would go now and then, or order online. I've bought most of my ReAction figures there, like The Dark Crystal and The Fifth Element. There are way too many toys I've bought there over the decades, some of which still have active lines coming out now. He-Man, Ghostbusters, Thundercats, WWE, and of course, Star Wars. The toy isles were forever changed when Star Wars came into being. I remember getting almost all my figures there, both vintage and newer.

Toys R Us has always been the place to go, and sadly it's going away. Growing up in the 80's it was greatly intertwined in my life. It always seemed to cheer up some bad days and always had what I was looking for. Whatever the complicated business reasoning, it's very unfortunate we are losing the last stand-alone toy store - and one of the best.