As I looked for a creative Christmas gift for my best friend's 5-year old this year, I couldn't believe the mind numbing array of games, gadgets and gook. Apart from the toys that actually celebrate violence, there are many that celebrate the nonviolent worst in us. One such example is Doctor Dreadful, Alien Autopsy. The product description reads:
Eat everything you make with Doctor Dreadful's Alien Autopsy! Deep from within
Area 51 comes a delicious experiment in dissection. Create tasty alien eyeballs,
parasitic lung bugs, and then brew up some bubbling alien guts! Yummm! Discover the secret sludge of Area 51 as it comes to life, defying gravity and moving all over the Alien's stomach! It's an autopsy your taste buds will never forget! Discover flavors that are out of this atmosphere with Doctor Dreadful's Alien Autopsy Play Set!
I laughed in horror, and then I thought 'Somebody actually thought this was a good idea'. That somebody is a company called Spinmaster, whose other toys seem to exude the same play philosophy. Is this how we encourage kids to be more creative, resourceful and productive? Hopefully, not.
The only thing comparable I can recall from my own childhood is the Creepy Crawler bug toy made by Mattel. It was pretty gross, but at least our Thingmaker creations were not considered edible.
After hours of unilluminating searching on the web, I finally settled on a Hoberman sphere, which I rediscovered through a nice list compiled by the Lion & Lamb Project. Though the Project is no more, the list lives on at
http://www.lionlamb.org/Top_20_2000-2001.html, and is worth checking.
There are so many great toys that can edify as well as entertain--why would we even consider giving our children Alien Autopsy?
Do you remember a favorite toy from childhood or have you found one this holiday season that made a difference for you or a child you know? What makes it special?