Wednesday, September 03, 2008

e's Favorite Things: Fisher Price Little People

First things first: Yes, I am going to write about the Gossip Girl and 90210 premieres. I had planned on doing so this morning, until -- horror of horrors -- my Tivo went on the fritz last night and didn't record 90210, so now I have to wait for the replay on Thursday night. But rest assured, barring any other technical difficulties, I will post about these shows on Friday.

In the meantime, I feel compelled to rant just a little bit about the tragedy that has befallen my favorite childhood toys: Fisher Price's "Little People." I was back home in Michigan this past weekend, and my family and I had a ball watching a DVD that my parents recently had made of all of our old, old, old Super 8 videos. These films from back in the day each only held about 3 minutes of recorded video, so a few dozen separate tapes were able to fit onto one DVD. I saw myself age from 3 weeks to 10 years old within the span of an hour and a half -- freaky! So on a related note, I have to say two things before I get to the heart of this post: 1) If you, your parents or any of your friends or relatives have old movies on film reels or VHS tapes, I beg of you, find a company to transfer them to DVD. It's not the cheapest service in the world, but I promise, you'll be happy you did. The tapes will eventually become warped or disintegrate, and then you will kick yourself for not saving them in time. Just do it!!!! 2) After freaking out at seeing all of my old toys, friends, clothes and home decorations, I have vowed to take more videos in the present time. There are so many things that still pictures just can't capture. The Super 8's didn't even have sound, for God's sake, and they still rocked. These days, there's no excuse for not taking a few clips here and there of your kids, your pets, your house or whatever you care about. Those shots will provide immense joy and entertainment in the future!

OK, so in addition to "the corn popper" (left) and about ten million other awesome toys I forgot I had, I was overjoyed to catch glimpses of the "Little People." If you had these rockin' toys, then I bet a huge smile is spreading across your face right now. Two of the sets I loved the most are below (and yes, the castle was my ultimate favorite because I loved dragons even back then):



Seeing that Robin Hood dude again makes me want to cry. How is it possible to love these little guys as much as I do?

My brother and I then remembered how we would always refer to the chap below as "Pothead." We did not realize the usual meaning of that phrase at the time. We were simply not that creative and called it as we saw it...


Eventually we switched his name to "Panhead"... and then to "Vinnie." We were big fans of Welcome Back Kotter, what can I say? Yes, I realize that the freckled boy above looks nothing like John Travolta, but we worked with what we had, OK?

So I was all warm and fuzzy, reminiscing on my childhood, until I looked up "Little People" online and saw that the years have not been kind to my beloved toys. They have been given makeovers in the worst possible way:


I try to keep it clean on this site, but it's taking everything in me to not unleash a tirade filled with expletives right about now. What have they DONE to the Little People?!?! Why do they have ARMS? Why are they holding stuff? Why do almost all of them have on hats? Why are they wearing outfits? They shouldn't even have feet, much less be wearing shoes?!?!

And look what happened to the castle! Where's the moat?!?!?

The Robin Hood dude now has a bow and arrow pack?!?! That new dragon is totally small! Is there still even the trap door? AAAAAHHHHHH, I can't take it!!!

This is total crap. Yeah, I know, the new design of the figures and sets probably has something to do with making them less of a choking hazard. But they didn't have to destroy the very thing that made these figures so awesome in the first place: their simplicity. I weep for the children of today. And now I'm going to have to go on eBay and see if I can rebuild the complete set of Little People toys I once had (I still have a lot of them, but a few didn't survive storage over the years).

I'm so upset by this that I can't bear to think about it anymore. I'm therefore going to leave you with some pictures of the ORIGINAL Little People, in all of their streamlined glory. That dog was one of the best ones. Sigh.




- e

18 comments:

Craig said...

So, maybe I'm just ignoring the imagination of children, who came up with new names for him, but wouldn't that pothead guy be Johnny Appleseed?

Craig said...

Oh, and I forgot to say this (sorry for the rapid-fire commenting): Please don't even say things like "TiVo on the fritz." Just the idea that something like that could happen frightens me much more than I should admit.

e said...

Did Johnny Appleseed have a pan on his head? I never even knew that story...

- e

drew said...

I remember those guys, I had a bunch of them, and vehicles they went into and what not. They were cool back in the day. I dont have any videos of my when I was younger I dont think, I will check with my mom, but I doubt it, but that would be so cool, to revisit your youth so to speak and see what it was like back then.. Cool post.

SmartAlexander said...

The photos of the Castle brought back a moat-load of memories from my days playing as a kid while I waited for my big brother to come home from school when I went half days as a Kindergartener.

I wonder if my mom still has that castle in the attic, saving it for my kids, when that day comes??? If so I think I may need to offer to babysit some friends' kids over Christmas so I'll have an excuse to play King of the Castle (it's better when there's no bills to complicate one's imagination).

My mom ran a preschool out of our house for years. Often my toys that I outgrew were "donated" to the toy box. Watching the little kids bang my precious favorite old toys around caused my mom to box some up. I'm sure she still has them...

Great post e!!! A real bright spot on this dreary day.

And congrats on the cool gig with Red Box (I first read it as Redbook, not Red Box, which made me think you'd have to start wearing tweed or scratchy turtlenecks, I have no idea why, but that's the image of the readership of Redbook).

Juls said...

Ack!! I totally loved the Little People... I had the "town" that had stores and a fire station and a ramp. And I never thought that the guy with the pan on his head had freckles-- for some reason I assumed they were pimples and I always made him the bully / bad guy. [ha ha]

Anyway, congrats on your job with Redbox! I hope you'll still have time for us minions. : )

Anonymous said...

The new little people look like they are very colorful....but is that because of lead-based Chinese paint ????? Hmmm....just the thing for some small youngster to suck on and poison his brain.

Auntie MA

seg said...

I loved the original little people. I had the treehouse and the farm. According to family lore, the dad had a moustache, much like mine did (hey it was the 70s). When my dad shaved his moustache off, I threw little people dad across the room and refused to play with him anymore.

While I totally agree with your post, I did buy the new little people farm for my neice recently and I have to say it's pretty cool - the barn doors moo & oink when you open and shut them.

kristyn from detroit said...

you're right e. that dog was the freakin best!

Clementine said...

The new Little People are soulless pod creatures. Smiley soulless pod creatures! I'm appalled.

Kids today are obviously way too delicate. I survived my childhood without ingesting Little People, putting my eye out with steel-tipped lawn darts, or ramming Lincoln Logs up my sister's nose. Well, I tried, but she moved too fast. Because she had half a brain, dammit!

Remember the smell of Tinker Toys when you opened the canister? Real wood! Ah, the good old days.

Peter said...

I never would have known that those toys of my youth were 'little people'. My 2 year old daughter plays with the new 'little people' and loves them. So I understand why you would bemoan something changing from your youth, I'm sure that your parents thought your toys stunted your imagination, and I'm sure my daughter will think toys of the future just aren't as good as the good old days. But in the meantime my kid is enjoying the little people and will probably look back on them with fond memories just like you.

e said...

It's true... I do think my fury simply comes from the fact that my beloved toys have changed... not from the fact that they are necessarily any less cool now. It's just all relative, right?

Some other friends have mentioned to me that their kids love these new versions, so that gives me some peace. But it doesn't mean I'm still not going to hold on to my old-school sets!

- e

Peter said...

I would have never known that those toys from my childhood were in fact 'little people'. My 2 year old daughter loves her new modern 'little people'. I think you are being slightly over dramatic bemoaning the change from little plain figurines to the new modern looking figures. I am sure that the parents of our generation lamented the 'new' toys that stunted our imagination, and I'm sure that my daughter's generation will cringe at the future toys and let out a collective sigh wishing for the good old days. But until then, she is having a great time with the 'little people'. Fun post. Thanks

Kristina said...

Hilarious. I did buy the corn popper for will and I have to say it is as annoying as hell. BUT I got it in honor of our generation. I never made the connection between the new and old little people. That is hilarious. Will has 3 little people and one is in a very pc wheelchair.

Love that your mama kept all that stuff.

Aunt Sue said...

Oh my God--they HAVE destoyed the looks of those new Fisher Price figures. I agree, they look nothing like the originals. How sad. But, I did crack up at your storytelling!!

Yes......the dog was the best. And, Pothead.......that's just TOO funny.

Anonymous said...

I have the Little People house. Also, playpen,cradle,bed,rocking horse, tricycle, chair, two seats car ,five people and the dog! Interested? kortetp@charter.net

nora.mccauley@thepursuitofhappinessllc.com said...

Amazon has just announced some "new" preschool toys from Fisher Price. I deleted the email, but my mother opened it and forwarded it to me immediately. Get yourself on Amazon right now and check out the Play'n'Go FARM and a few others! These are not new, they are RETRO!!!! Rejoice, for ONCE AGAIN THERE ARE TRUE, PURE LITTLE PEOPLE WITH NO ARMS!!!!! (I found your post because I was looking for celebrations, explanations, anything to mark the occasion.)

Anonymous said...

I had the house, school, castle, and airplane as a child, which I remember fondly. My mom KICKS herself for giving them to our next-door neighbor's younger children (she kept every single one of my books)!! However, my now 3-yr old, and admit-tingly I too love (and somewhat collect) the newer Little People. Once again, they too will soon be left to memories, as the once again re-designed "Poseable" Little People slowly take over.