Most of us started out on hard plastics before moving on to the real thing. I’m sure we can all remember the toys that transformed us into car nerds; the ones we begged our parents to buy for us while waiting in the checkout line at the store. The toys of our youth gave us some much needed time to pretend, and some of us have yet to grow out of that phase. It’s time now to take a quick trip back to the days of no worries, so that we can pay homage to those sweet, sweet playthings. Read on and tell me that remembering these things doesn’t make you want to go on a Nickelodeon style Toys”R”Us shopping spree.
Transformers may be the most underrated toy/television show in human history. Their back story was the stuff of legend, you could transform them from car to fighting robot to super fighting robot, and then there are the movies….Anyway, playing with my friend’s Optimus Prime in truck mode is my earliest memory of toy envy. And it doesn’t matter how old you are, Bumblebee still kicks ass. Take home his real life Camaro counterpart, because it’s the next best thing.
LEGO is sweet because they make you work for what your playtime by building stuff first. But the real money is the Technic stuff, because it’s like the older kid’s LEGO. With Technic, you’re able to gain an appreciation for basic level of engine, steering & suspension components. And once you get bored with the car or truck they told you to build, you can create some insane hydro space vehicle. The best option today is the LEGO Technic supercar, available for a slim $120- almost as good a bargain as the real thing.
My first intro in the electronic car world was by way of Spy Hunter, with its sweet theme song and oil slicks. Today’s crowd doesn’t know how good they have it. Not only do we get to roll around town throwing people out of cars before stealing them, but games like the Gran Turismo series feature ultra-realistic versions of the real thing; the only missing part is the smell of clutch burn due to your terrible shifting. And here’s a case of life imitating art: the Nissan GT-R features a data interface that was designed by the Gran Turismo video game people.
These tiny autos allowed us to imagine entire cities filled our own personal sports cars, heavy machinery, and even military lineups that could easily take over that small mound of flowers in the back yard. Easy to lose in the dirt and tall grass, though, until you stepped on them. Not quite as bad as stepping on some jagged knife of a LEGO piece, but it wasn’t a picnic either. Speaking of old timey video games, Micro Machines had their own NES game, too.
Yeah, actual track ready go karts. It may seem auspicious to send a kid to some grey warehouse behind the mall, but go karts allow the ignorant & immature to get behind some real power- just like the real thing. Thankfully, go kart rage usually consists of a few side swipes and innocent smack talk, and the feeling of beating your smug older bros is one of the best feelings of youth- until you realize that you didn’t win, and you actually got lapped twice because your legs were too short to push the pedal all the way down. True story.
There’s an adult toy store where you always get to open up the 4-wheeled present of your dreams. It’s called CarWoo! Have fun.