Thursday, June 07, 2018

The Toys That Made Us (Season 2)

I grew up with a lot of toys.  I don’t know if my brothers and I were ahead of or behind the curve in terms of numbers, but we did have quite a few.  That’s what caught my attention when I saw The Toys That Made Us.   Several of the toy lines I grew up with were featured in some of the episodes.  The show is split into two seasons, with the first season covering four toy lines like He-Man.

In the second season, four more toy lines are featured:  Star Trek, Transformers, LEGO and Hello Kitty.  All four of these toy lines have name recognition.  Star Trek is a well-known TV and movie franchise.  As for Hello Kitty, if you don’t know the name, you’ve probably at least seen the cute face.

I actually found this season a little more informative than the previous season.  Part of that is because I grew up with two of the toy lines.  We had all manner of Transformer toys.  As for LEGO, I think we still have a few hundred pounds of the bricks stashed away in closets somewhere.

Another reason for my increased interest is that I wasn’t really aware of the Star Trek and Hello Kitty toys. I’ve watched a lot of the Star Trek shows, although I never really got into the collectible end of it.  (Well, ok.  I bought the trading cards, but that’s it.)  Hello Kitty was never really my thing.  I had some passing knowledge, like the character’s name is Kitty White.  Most of the additional information was totally new to me.

This season also seemed to go into more detail, overall.  The first season seemed like it was jut a brief rundown of how the company rose to power and, in some cases, subsequently failed.  Here, the toys seem to be a lot more successful.  Star Trek is still around.  Even though LEGO and Hello Kitty have had problems, neither brand is going away any time soon.  I’m ot sure if Transformer toys are still in stores, though.

One good thing about the series is that each episode is independent of the others.  You could watch just one on the toy you liked.  You can watch them out of order or in order.  Each episode is under an hour, making it relatively easy to binge four or all eight in one sitting.

I think this show is banking mostly on nostalgia.  All of the brands have been around longer than the average college student.  In fact, I think most of them are older than I am.  I would imagine, though, that most people reading this have played with at least one of the brands in the second season, if not the first.  If you didn’t have LEGOs, you probably had a friend who did.  I don’t think you could make it through elementary school without seeing that cute feline face at least once.

I’m curious to know if there’s going to be a third season.  The opening theme states that it’s an eight-part documentary series.  This doesn’t preclude more episodes.  However, I’m not sure what they would pick for new episodes.  I can’t imagine any of the four brands in this season not being among the ten most recognizable.    I can’t think of any other name in toys that would match up to these.

If Netflix does want to do something similar in the future, it would probably be better to focus on a different product, like video games.  Around the 1970s and 1980s, home computers and video consoles were being introduced.  Atari and Commodore would both be good candidates if a series was done on electronics.  I don’t know that I’d hold my breath for another four episodes on toys.

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