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    Entries in toys (3)


    OFF TOPIC: Classic toys, ranked

    You know you have a favorite toy from the past, from your childhood, but is your favorite toy the BEST toy of all-time/forever? Read on and find out...

    100 - 26 - (in no particular order) Wooden blocks, the duck that you pulled with a string thing, the vacuum-like toy that had a round plastic bubble full of little balls, Magic 8-ball, Erector Sets, frisbee, Lincoln Logs, and about 60 other fun for a few minutes but otherwise not that awesome toys

    25. NERF football

    24. Rock'em Sock'em Robots

    23. Ken

    22. Silly Putty

    21. Slinky

    20. Mr. Potato Head

    19. Play-doh

    18. Lite-Brite

    17. Mattel Electronic Football, (the small, hand-held one where the players were just tiny green lines)

    16. Transformers

    15. G.I. Joe

    14. Yo-Yo

    13. View-Master

    12. Etch-a-Sketch

    11. Tonka (props to the classic yellow dump truck, but they were all pretty cool)

    10. Barbie

    9. SuperBall

    8. Wiffle Ball

    7. Rubik's Cube

    6. Simon (original one with the red, blue, yellow, green lights)

    5. Hot Wheels

    4. Little plastic green Army Men

    3. LEGOS

    2. Star Wars Action Figures

    1. Crayola Crayons


    The Etch A Sketch and Letting Go in Order to Create

    Over the weekend I caught the news that the creator of the legendary Etch A Sketch toy, Andre Cassagnes, passed away at the age of 86. The Etch A Sketch, with its iconic plastic red frame, gray slate 'writing' surface, and its dual white rotating draw wheels was an instant it from its debut in 1959.  Over 100 million Etch A Sketches have been sold since, and even in the age of computers, smartphones, tablets, and powerful design applications, the Etch A Sketch still remains popular, with a new batch of 'Sketchies', (I am not sure that is even a term, I might have just made it up), joining the ranks every year.

    The singular feature and benefit of the Etch A Sketch is it's impermanence - don't like the way a drawing was turning out, simply stop, shake, and start all over. You'd literally 'wipe the slate clean' and could begin anew. Today that doesn't seem like a big deal, in this modern age of the digital 'undo' and where the marginal cost of saving one more version or taking one more digital image is essentially nothing. Back in the 60s and 70s this was a really big deal - the toy's ability to reset itself and allow the creator to start over without wasting any raw materials was a massive benefit.

    But the impermanence of the Etch A Sketch worked the other way as well - if you managed to create something valuable and meaningful with the toy, (admittedly, not that easy to accomplish), you'd be tempted to set the toy down for a while, to show your creation to friends and family, and to make sure NO ONE got too grabby with your creation, lest some inadvertent jostling destroy your art.

    Eventually though, you'd be forced to let go in order to continue to play with the Etch A Sketch, for as fantastic the device was, it could only 'hold' one creation at a time. To continue to create, to explore, to perhaps develop something new that could exceed in beauty or cleverness the prior effort, you'd have to bid farewell to the old and set off on creating something new.

    It's an interesting dilemma really, one that many of us face today, the desire or tendency to cling too long and too fast to what we've done in the past that can constrain us from looking at today's problems and tomorrow's opportunities with fresh, unclouded eyes.

    The Etch A Sketch forced you to let go in order to move forward. That was it's limitation and it's charm.

    Have a Great Week!


    On crazy ideas and taking action

    Check the image on the right side of this post. That's me, or at least my hand holding a genuine, original, (sadly without the original packaging), Pet Rock, circa 1975.Pet Rock, unnamed, B. 1975

    In case you're not familiar with the story of the Pet Rock, (read - younger than 35, you have some sort of life), allow our friends at Wikipedia to get you caught up:  

    Pet Rocks were a 1970s fad conceived in Los Gatos, California by advertising executive Gary Dahl.

    In April 1975, Dahl was in a bar listening to his friends complain about their pets. This gave him the idea for the perfect "pet": a rock.

    A rock would not need to be fed, walked, bathed, groomed and would not die, become sick, or be disobedient. He said they were to be the perfect pets, and joked about it with his friends. However, he eventually took the idea seriously, and drafted an "instruction manual" for a pet rock. It was full of puns, gags and plays on words that referred to the rock as an actual pet.

    The first Pet Rocks were ordinary gray stones bought at a builder's supply store. They were marketed like live pets, in custom cardboard boxes, complete with straw and breathing holes for the "animal."The fad lasted about six months, ending after a short increase in sales during the Christmas season of December 1975. Although by February 1976 they were discounted due to lower sales, Dahl sold 1.5 million Pet Rocks and became a millionaire.

    Awesome, right? I mean I still have my Pet Rock as you can see in the picture.

    But the most important part of the story isn't how ridiculous the idea was/is, or the amazing gullibility or boredom of the American public who snatched up one and a half million of these 'pets', (in our collective defense it was a time before Cable TV and the internet, there was not all that much to do).

    The key to the tale is in this sentence from the founder's story:

    He said they were to be the perfect pets, and joked about it with his friends. However, he eventually took the idea seriously

    Four buddies, kidding around at a bar, where they hatch pretty much the entire idea for the toy in one beer session. Three of them head home, forget the entire night, and go about their lives, (seemingly their names forgotten to history).

    One guy, takes the idea, however silly/crazy/stupid and runs with it, sells a million rocks and gets rich.

    And more that 30 years later here I am wirting about that guy. And I still have my rock.

    What wild idea have you heard lately that you just laughed at, and swore would never work?