Objects in the review mirror may appear cooler than they are.
Having children is a sure fire way to find yourself reminiscing about eons ago when you were young with an infinite amount of passion to spend on cartoons, toys and candy.
Some things we never let go of (Star Wars or The Princess Bride for instance) so we are certain of their awesomeness as no time has lapsed in our viewing. However there are some that are only echoes of how our 8 year old self viewed them and it isn’t until you’ve revisited in the hopes of sharing with your kids that you learn the awful truth.
The truth that, unfortunately, 8 year olds are not always the best judges of quality as the first half of our list will demonstrate.
Things from Your Childhood That Didn’t Hold Up
I wish it weren’t so, but it is. The live-action sitcom about my favorite cat-eating space creature is a turd sandwich. It pains me to write that, I was obsessed with ALF when I was a kid. I had cups, t-shirts and hand puppets in his likeness, I spouted his catchphrases and watched both the original show and the cartoon religiously but the proof is in the pudding. The writing is horrendous, the acting is terrible and it’s just not funny. Don’t believe me? Then you may watch the “hilarious” moments reel and judge for yourself.
4. Mouse Trap
I wanted this thing so badly and how could you blame me with such a tantalizing marketing campaign. I love board games, I love Rube Goldberg machines, what could go wrong? Well for starters, you spend about 10% of your time playing it and the other 90% building and rebuilding it as it falls apart while you are playing it. If it does manage to stay together for long enough, it doesn’t even work. This plastic nightmare became the bane of my sister’s existence and yet she always came back and tried again after a few months with me right alongside her. Ah, to be so full of hope again. Spare your children this torture.
3. The Dark Crystal
I can feel the righteous indignation welling up across the internet as I say this, but I am unmoved by your disbelief. The Dark Crystal is something to skip. Are the Skeksis still terrifying? Hell yes they are, look at that horrible bird with teeth – he’s a hideous nightmare that will haunt you for all of your days. They are the reason my husband and I decided to re-watch the film before showing it to our kids, in case it was too frightening for the little one. The result, we viewed about half and wanted to turn it off, not from fear but boredom. This film is a creeper, it drags along telling it’s mildly interesting back story and showing the Gelfling Jen take his time walking from one edge of the screen to the other. As a lifelong fan of Jim Henson I hate to say it, but there are much better things to dedicate 93 minutes to.
2. Lisa Frank paraphernalia
I remember when Lisa Frank was a dolphin-filled status symbol at my elementary school and I am shocked that it still exists.
At best, the “artwork” will teach your kids that tigers are *adorable* and at worst it will convince your kid that clashing neon colors are cool and that only girls are allowed to like doe-eyed panda bears and the color pink.
1. The Slinky
Why hasn’t this thing died yet? Unless your stairs are the perfect size you will watch with wonder as it goes down exactly one step and then sits there like the coiled failure that it is. Even if your stairs ARE perfect the only thing it does is go down the stairs, which is novel for about 3 minutes. The first time I used a slinky was the first time I felt ripped off and while that is an important life lesson, it’s one that will come sooner or later without wasting $6.
Things You Loved That Actually Were Cool
5. Comic books
Whether they are the ones you perused as a kiddo or brand-new offerings there is nothing like comics to get a child intensely interested in both reading and art without them even realizing it (sneaking educational pursuits into their leisure time – so deliciously evil…Mwahahahaha!) There are comics for all ages, even before they know their letters they can enjoy the simple charm of Owly. Other great modern offerings for the young’uns include Tiny Titans and Bone, but really as long as you check them out for things you don’t deem appropriate the 0.25 cent bin is a great place to keep your kid stock piled with comic books.
Robots in disguise? Still awesome. Let me clarify, I am not talking about the recent movies, but the toys. The original G1 series up through the current models still fascinate kids, even the ones who have never seen the cartoon or the films. They are a guaranteed hit and are sure to provide hours of playtime.
3. My Little Pony
It turns out the bronies are right, the newest revamp of the franchise, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is actually good. It’s sweet, forthright and entertaining. The show teaches lessons that we all need reminding of about how important relationships are in our lives and there are PONIES. Most importantly, it is a children’s television show that your kids will love (if mine are any indication) and you won’t mind sitting in on – a rare and blessed event indeed.
2. The Labyrinth
There are many movies from our childhood that hold up but few enjoy the same magical status of The Labyrinth. This story of realizing the importance of family due to David Bowie kidnapping your infant brother and threatening to turn him into a goblin unless you make to the center of a giant maze full of weirdos by the end of the day actually captivates/frightens kids now as much as it did twenty years ago. The story is good, the pacing is wonderful and the special effects aren’t distracting. If no uncomfortable questions come up about the Goblin King’s well showcased package, you’re golden.
1. Super Mario Bros
This classic game as well as it’s two immediate sequels, still provides a fun challenge. I must admit I was skeptical that my Lego Star Wars champ would go for a straight left to right, 8-bit dinosaur but he jumped right in. There is something wonderful in sharing all of the tricks I remember from when I was 9 years old. He sits in disbelief as I tell him which pipes hide shortcuts in 1 or the secret back way to getting a warp whistle in 3, as if the fact that his mother knows all the secrets of a video game before him is amazing. Which it is of course, cause I always get the fireworks….always.
I wonder if my kids will one day look back at The Wonder Pets with the same embarrassed horror that I viewed ALF with a few days ago. One can only hope.