The GeeksversePlaytime: Odd Bits of Nostalgia (Part II)

Playtime: Odd Bits of Nostalgia (Part II)
Published on Monday, November 26, 2012 by

My brother gave me an early Christmas present. He found a California Raisin coffee mug and thought of me. Nostalgia can be a funny thing. Sure, it can open our wallets, resell us our childhood, flock to DVD sets, and even make us buy action figures that “adult collectors” pan. It can also simply take us back to being a family watching the claymation Raisin special. Sometimes, odd bits of nostalgia bring up other ideas.

I love Imaginext. I think this is a great line of toys or lines of toys depending on how you want to approach it. Fisher-Price has succeeded. Besides the DC/Bat line—and truthfully who needs more than Batman—this toy line has focused on Sky Racers, Samurais, Western European Feudal Kingdoms, Space, Dinosaur Riding, and Cities as well as the earlier brief Princess, Pirate, and Jungle lines.

I am buying my daughter Imaginext toys this year so that she will have them on hand when they become age appropriate.

Until my daughter is ready to play with these toys (appropriate for 3-8 year olds), I will have to play with them myself. Seriously. I understand that many “adult collectors” skip over this Fisher-Price offering on toy aisles while searching out “adult” action figures like Star Wars, Transformers, G.I. Joe, and other pose able plastic people.

Although, I defy the adult collectors to pick up a few of these plastic people and not smile wistfully for a simpler time.

Beyond the Bat-World, Imaginext has created a great variety of characters, vehicles, critters, and action playsets. One of my personal favorites is the simply named Robot Police line. Check out the line description from the back of the box:

Imagine… a world of Robot Police, specially designed to guard land, air,and sea. When they’re on patrol, everyone is safe—or are they? Now imagine, you’re in that world and you decide what happens next–good guys or bad guys, what side are you on?

The back of the package reads like an afternoon cartoon description.

The image on the back of the cardboard packaging evokes worlds of wonder complete with good guys, bad guys, and explosions which can all be conjured up easily looking at these thick plasticed toys. Fisher-Price caters to younger hands so these plastic people are chunky even while playable. Posing may not be perfect, but it is possible. The figures pack six points of articulation into small-hand friendly 3″ figures. Those figures can hang around with smaller robots, jump into tanks, jump into exo-skeletons, or go head to head with the armor clad villain.  The figures can slip into simple one piece mask/armor sets which are nearly ingenious.

Arguments against these toys by adult collectors is that they are simple and overly chipper. However, I would challenge nearly anyone to put together a dozen of these toys and not want to start acting out a basic story.

If you haven’t heard the opposition, then check out this pod-cast from Atomic Martians Toy Review. They concede that these are great youth toys but not whole heartedly.

While this isn’t part of the current line-up advertised by the Fisher-Price website, this is still a toy line commonly found fresh on the shelves of box stores. This is a fun line-up that makes me want to play.

Sure, I’m ostensibly buying into Imaginext so that my daughter’s toy box will be fun of  creative toys, but I’m just as pleased to have these in the house. Toy lines should foster creativity. Robot Police is a simply named toy line that I could sit down to as an afternoon cartoon or flip open as an all-ages comic. These simple plastic people convey stories.

If the toy line isn’t enough on its own, these combine well. Imagine….a world where Robot Police suit up in exo-skeletons to attack Gotham City and challenge the Justice League, only to retreat to an off shore Dinosaur Island beset by sky pirates. Imagine…

Isn’t that what toys were supposed to do? Make us imagine?

Imaginext is a great toy line. It succeeds on its own merits to create durable and creative playtime.

Imaginext is also a great toy line because it kicks into my nostalgia. These toys make me want to collect and play the same way my G.I. Joes, Transformers, Super Power, and typical 80s toys made me want to play. As I unboxed a few Robot Police folk today to sit temporarily on a shelf, my mind raced through story lines and playtime potential. My mind also kicked into remembering playtimes gone by.

I am from the generation of children that grew up with afternoon cartoons as glorified toy commercials. I watched seemingly every product have a toy line and a multi-media launch. Heck, even the California Raisin producers put together a line of Hardees statiction figures and Vinton Studio claymation television event. Now I pick up the Imaginext toys with the same wonder that I once held for the California Raisins and for the same reason I am the perfect person to give a Raisins coffee mug. Potential and playability are part of the nostalgia within me as much as they are a success for Fisher-Price.

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