If you're a regular reader, it should be pretty clear your loyal 90s nostalgia chronicler has a serious case of summer fever. As we close in on Memorial Day weekend, the prospect of summertime fun is almost too much to bear. Granted, I don't have any water balloon fights or Jart tournaments scheduled, but the notion of sunshine and the great outdoors still elicits a childlike level of euphoria. For the record, my weekend is still open for Jart tournaments if you're interested in setting something up.
It's a safe bet to say we will never fully recapture that childhood school's-out-for-the-summer level of excitement; there is simply no adult equivalent to that level of anticipation. All the Moon Shoes in the world couldn't eliminate the grown-up stressors we face year round. Though, to be fair, I imagine it would help. Open reader plea: send Moon Shoes. That is all.
Though we may not be able to reignite the spark of summer vacation excitement, we can at least reminisce about some of the toys that made our summertimes so special. If you're lucky, maybe you still have some of these items lying around. Seriously, what I wouldn't do for a Skip-It right about now. Forget the gym membership--that little pink piece of plastic is way more motivating exercise.
Who could have foreseen that strapping a little plastic ball and chain to your ankle could provide hours of endless entertainment? That little progressive counter on the side tapped into the competitive child psyche, allowing us to compete against our friends and our own personal bests while playing quietly in the driveway. I imagine our parents were thrilled for the long-stretches of easily amused and generally exhausting play.
Kids today may not believe it, but many of us were around for a time when rollerskates were still the gold standard in wheeled footwear. Inline skates were modeled after ice skates, intended for training use on dry land. Soon they were all the rage, a trend from which many of us learned the value of a deeply skinned knee. Regardless, rollerblades will forever be superior to today's alternative. Don't even get me started on those wheelie sneakers. Every time I see a kid rolling by me at the mall, I yearn to buy him a pair of rollerblades. They just don't know what they're missing.
The advertisements for Nickelodeon moon shoes were everywhere, though I never actually knew anybody that owned a pair. Had I been better connected on the playground, perhaps I could have experienced the wonder of spring walking firsthand. Alas, I will never know the gravity-reduced wonder of moonwalking. Until that whole colonization thing goes down. Or maybe if I become a great Michael Jackson-style dancer. Either way.
One of the most effective ways to beat the summer heat is with a water fight, and we all know the key to winning a water fight lies in the proper arsenal of weaponry. Armed with our Super Soakers, we could outblast flimsy conventional water guns. In case you're not big on Super Soaker trivia, you may be interested to know they were originally branded as Power Drenchers. Or maybe you won't be. Who knows. Either way, the toy makers obviously got their hands on a thesaurus somewhere down the line.
These much-coveted but oft-denied overpriced mini vehicles undoubtedly caused many temper tantrums over the years. We just couldn't understand why our parents wouldn't shell out the big bucks for one of these babies. If only I'd gotten the mock motorbike I wanted, I could be a bona fide Kawasaki ninja by now. At the very least, I'd hold a chance at being a proficient Barbie Jeep operator.
Finally, a company that recognizes kids throw things at one another and it can really, really hurt. Through the clever use of foam, the quantity of bruises per square inch decreased dramatically. Getting hit in the face just got that much more bearable. Thanks, Nerf!
Little Tykes Cozy Coupe
Here's a fact you might not know about your favorite child-sized vehicle: In the early 90s, it was reported that the Cozy Coupe had outsold both the Ford Taurus and Honda Accord, making it one of the bestselling cars of the time. It's certainly more economical than a Taurus or Accord, plus it gets way better gas mileage. The downside? Sore feet from all the Flintstone-style acceleration. You can't win 'em all.
Lawn Darts (Jarts)
Ah, finally a toy that combines the tranquil peacefulness of lawns with the terrifying risk of death by impalement. I'm not sure how or why these toys ever eked past the watchful eye of safety experts and parent groups, but somehow they made it into production and onto toy store shelves. It wasn't long before the US and Canada issued a ban on the sale of Lawn Darts and urged consumers to "discard or destroy them immediately." Yikes.
Speaking of dangerous yard toys, here's a classic example of how innocent concepts can go very very wrong. I'll give you a hint when setting up your own slip n' slide: try your best to avoid cement or a downhill descent into a wall/sidewalk/pile of jagged rocks/any other bone breakin', tooth chippin' slide stopper. It sounds like common sense, but you may be surprised how many people failed to consider the consequences until their child was hobbling around in a cast or sling for the remainder of the summer.
Also, note to college students: It may seem like a good idea to combine a slip n' slide with alcohol. It is not. Believe me. Resist your instincts. Your limbs will thank me.