Friday, September 24, 2010

The Bygone Golden Age Of Kids

I've probably mentioned before that the 1950s and 60s was a golden age for kids. We had it easy. We didn't have to work the farm, no depression and there were huge wonderful companies who spent their time thinking up great ways to entertain us.

The Toy companies had genius designers and inventors. Just check out the design and functionality of Johnny 7



We had the best toy weapons ever. I think we were better armed than the Marines. There were lots more like these too. We used to organize street wars with all the kids in the neighborhood and at the end of a Saturday afternoon, the lawns would be littered with our twitching expiring plastic bullet ridden bodies. Our Moms would revive us with wholesome sugar coated cereals.


I guess they stopped making this kind of stuff after the Hippies decided that toy guns inspired us to be violent. But I think we had a lot more violence in the generation that grew up with Barney and Care Bears.

MORE HAPPY KILLING TOOLS

Just from a design standpoint alone, compare Johnny 7 to the kind of design that the 70s replaced it with:
70s soft warrior with soft featureless dim flashlight weapon

73 comments:

ComiCrazys said...

HOLY CRAP!!! That's amazing!!! That gun had to be designed by Jim Smith!!!

Jorge said...

Sorry, John, but the 90s were pretty goddamn good for that kind of thing, too.

http://media.ebaumsworld.com/picture/badger/NerfGuns.png

http://www.waynesthisandthat.com/images/cp20002guns.jpg

With their futuristic designs and incredible fire power, nerf guns and super soakers made every kid with these the envy of his neighborhood in the 90s.

I guess you could argue that the bright colours made the weapons look more kiddy, garish, and girly, but that was basically mandated by US law.

Actually, I think the toy industry is one industry that HASN'T had much decline in creativity or quality over time. Every generation seems to really love what they have coming out.

Luis María Benítez said...

And now we have things like this: http://www.mercadolibre.com.ar/jm/img?s=MLA&f=57221150_5191.jpg&v=P

A game where you catch the fleas in a poor guy's bed. A game for the developing countries....

Alberto said...

I remember when I was a kid "Goldeneye" came out, I fell in love. I remember playing with fake guns and taking down fake underground bunkers where commies hung out with another neighbor kid who also loved spies. by 12 or so I probably watched every Bond film. Guns, women, and explosions, isn't that what everyone wants? I think after that I started my ultra-violent anime phase. Did i come out violent? No, I came out to be all artsy-fartsy. Of course no one wants you to know that violent movies and toys lead to perfectly normal lives.

glamaFez said...

I had a Johnny Seven gun as a child. I played war games with it until it fell apart.

Today I am a responsible and nonviolent citizen.

JohnK said...

No contest, Jorge.

Robert Schaad said...

I can't remember exactly...I think it was the "Monkey Gun" that could shoot around corners. Anyway, one Christmas I watched a Monkey Gun go from brand new (fresh out of the box) to snapped in two (due to an inappropriately fired projectile), in the course of about two minutes. Priceless!!!

J. said...

Yeah, but it turns out the hippies were right. Gun toys are definitely a bad influence for kids. Especially gun that immitate real life ones.

So for once, screw you John. And yes, Star Wars was awesome and you're just nostalgia raging because you never got to experience it as a kid.

So here's a final protip: every generation is the golden generation for those that lived it.

Erik B said...

that gun looks awesome!

i think if you don't let your kids play with this, they suppress they're anger and become very violent in the future!

and sorry john.. as a kidd i always wanted to own a lightsaber... it can cut en burn through anything and its an outragesly cool b-film weapon ;)

but i agrea about luke skywalker
he looks like a wimp.

Rafael said...

those were replaced by those pink and orange super-soakers kids play with today.

RooniMan said...

I have just witnessed the greatest toy I have ever seen.

Isaak said...

Ebert wrote a good article about those experiences also.

http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2009/06/raising_free-range_kids.html

HemlockMan said...

Man! I'll bet trying to find one of those now with all of the parts intact is a chore! Probably worth a mint, too.

The toy I lusted after but never got when I was a kid was the MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. attache case. One of my pals in my neighborhood when I was nine years old had one and he wouldn't even let the rest of us so much as lay a finger on it. What a bastard!

Joey Lee said...

Making fun of light sabers? I sense a tidal wave of nerd rage coming your way.

Roberto Severino said...

I was definitely born in the wrong generation. It's quite a shame how I didn't grow up in your time. I never thought that Barney, My Little Pony, nor the Care Bears were hip toys in the first place anyway, even as a kid.

Any theories about why the Hippies decided to suck the fun out of all this stuff? It's mind boggling to me.

Zoran Taylor said...

Personally, I can't think of anything more badass than a weapon that could vapourize your flesh without even having physical form.

JohnK said...

Well you might as well just play magic then and use no toy at all...

Erik B said...

YEAH IMAGINATION IS THE BEST TOY!
.......

is what my mom said if i couldnt have the toy that i wanted..

and it sucked :P

but its stil halrd to see the diffrence between a 5 in 1 warmachine and a lightsabre

they both make no sense :P

but as a toy the gun seems realy fun

Cameron said...

I prefer the lightsaber. Yes, that's how I role.

And I always preferred old fashioned-y plastic 19th century firearms to whatever fake modern or futuristic gun toys were available to me. Just a lot of pointless flash. Give me a nice Colt Peacemaker so I can play a nice game of Clint Eastwood vs. John Wayne where they always wind up teaming up and kicking everyone else's ass.

murrayb said...

Haha! in the 70's and early 80s,(Reagan, Chuck Norris and Rambo days) toys R us had a whole gun aisle!
I remember buying full scale-made in china -hollow black plastic guns that had a ack-ack-clicking fly wheel, for really cheap.
my mom was a single parent and was worried with all my prissy doodling I needed manly toys.
I hated sports, so guns were my favorite!I had an arsenal.

Rambo and Ninja kits, with giant plastic hunting knives and throwing stars. then you could go down to Younge street and buy the real thing, no questions asked, just a raised eyebrow.

Same thing with deadly slingshots and air rifles from Canadian tire.

Mattieshoe said...

Japan adds a whole new dimension to the Toy Gun/Violence debate.

http://www.stellasmagazine.com/img/funny/crazy-toys/crazy-toys10.jpg

"Kaba Kick is Russian roulette for kids. The player points the gun at his or her own head and pulls the trigger. Instead of bullets, a pair of feet kick out from the barrel (which is shaped like a pink hippo). If the gun doesn't fire, the player earns points."

Niki said...

Jorge, It's a gun with six other guns inside it!!! No contest!

Luke said...

I have to COMPLETELY dissagree with J.
No, I'm sixteen, my generation is a period of DEgeneration. I love alot of stuff that came out of the forties, thirties, fifties, sixties. These toys had alot of craftsman ship put behind them. Alot more than the mass produced lifeless plastic I played with as a child. Even cartoons and movies were made by people who really enjoyed their work then. Now, everyone wants to do what gets them a big money return, and 15 minutes of fame.

I could go on, but all I'm going to say is, if you don't like this guy, show some respect, common courtesy, and common sense, don't troll.

ya schmuck

The Butcher said...

"Yeah, but it turns out the hippies were right. Gun toys are definitely a bad influence for kids. Especially gun that immitate real life ones."

Do you have a source to any scientific studies to confirm this? I bet you also think video games turn kids into killers.

I bet kids love you.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Kids in the 50s and early 60s watched violence on TV all the time, and had a kazillian plastic guns. They had all that and grew up to become the most peaceful generation America had produced up to that time. Where's the proof that plastic guns, especially historical guns and futuristic ray guns, make boys violent?

EalaDubh said...

These days it's not about promoting violence as much as making guns look glamorous. If kids in the 50s and 60s had access to the kind of global media that they do today, THEN you might have a point about the 'violent influence' about toy guns, as one compounding factor on top of all the others. That's what the hippies were really freaked out about; the collapse of everyone's sense of security when those violent images couldn't be ignored any more.

The Butcher said...

That's what I'm asking, Eddie. If toy guns and fake violence really turned children into dangerous criminals like the hippies say, the least the hippies can do is provide one shred of proof that it does.

Dorseytunes said...

I don't know John. If I was a kid today and my Mom handed me this baby for Christmas...

AK74 replica BB gun

Mykal Banta said...

One thing I loved about the 50s and 60s toys was the "exact replica" phenomenon. In my little troop, it had to look like a real gun to be considered acceptable. You could get real looking colt "GI" .45 to stuff in your belt and a extremely real looking M16. Helmets, canteens, German lugers, etc. etc. The Johnny Seven would have been very questionable. The gun had to be from a real war. The question "what war?" might have been too shameful to bear.

But a nerf gun? A gun with balloon shapes and bright, primary colors that shot sponges or water? Jesus, I shiver at the thought. Any poor kid carrying that into the field would receive a brutal and swift dishonorable discharge. A “light saber” would have inspired pity.

Violent? Hell yes. But, hey, it was war, dude. Did such games or toys foster violence in your young, malleable natures? Only until the streetlights came on. After all, we played a ton of Monopoly, too, but that didn’t particularly infuse our natures with greed and avarice, either. To a man, all my troop grew up to be very typical, harmless, basically good, very unspectacular citizens – accept for one that became a lawyer (a decent enough soldier back in the day, but always the last to charge the enemy bunker).

Isaak said...

One example of this happening in the 90s is of course the Power Rangers. They got into quite a bit of trouble with parents groups. Does that gain points with you John? On a side note, some of the robots on the show are jaw dropping in their magnificence yet horrid violation of any sense of aesthetics.

Here you go.
Focus particularly on ultrazord

Isaak said...

Sorry here is the link

http://powerrangers.wikia.com/wiki/Arsenal_(MMPR)#Ultrazord

Booksteve said...

I had one and I was the envy of all the other kids...but the darn thing was almost too heavy to lift! Here's a link to a piece I wrote a while back that shows a grainy picture of me with my Johnny Seven!
http://booksteveslibrary.blogspot.com/2008/12/johnny-seven.html

Sven Hoek said...

Just bought my step son a cool looking pellet rifle and pistol at walmart, but they are mostly clear plastic. It looks good but not realistic.

I didnt have any guns when i was growing up but I think I might have been a bit more well adjusted if I did. Now I just have a lot of pent up anger that I dont know what to do with. I need to go watch some Ren and Stimpy or Ripping Friends or something.

Speaking of violent, I just watched Stimpys Fan Club last night and Johns acting in that is amazing. Now thats some violent shit. I love the monolog Ren has in that one when Stimpy is asleep. Such a gifted actor, John K.

Billy Sajdera said...

When I was a kid, I wanted and received an actual air rifle that shot actual pellets into actual soda cans and targets. Luke Skywalker, his lightsaber and his adventures were what we watched at night, and then we woke up and watched Ren and Stimpy in the morning, and they were both all we talked about (my brother and I).

Sometimes there's just too much Old-man Kricfalusi grumpiness. Now Star Wars is ANOTHER reason why Bob Clampett is forgotten and the Director-based system is gone? Why everything is colored purple and pink? Why you can't show a Hotdog man and a Bun woman meld together on TV? It's another thorn in your side that the Star Wars toys didn't look like Dream Pets?

Who's next on the John K. chopping block of "Things That Are Not Officially Fun"? Ray Harryhausen? The Matrix? Wheel Of Fortune? This place needs to lighten up.

JohnK said...

I was 20 when I saw Star Wars and thought I was watching Happy Days in space. Everything was brown, soft and without any design. Like someone's home movie.

So it's not old-man grumpiness. I didn't like the 70s because it was so bland compared to what came just a few years before. I watched it change overnight and was dumbfounded - when I was a wee lad.

I wasn't grumpy until 1969.

Stephen Worth said...

I was 17 when Star Wars came out. I think that would probably be the target audience for it. I thought it was OK, but the second and third one made me mad. Now that I've had a chance to see a lot more movies, I have no desire to ever see Star Wars again. When I was a kid, I watched the junk they set in front of me. I'm smarter now.

Stephen Worth said...

When an 11 year old YouTube celebrity uses the phrase, "gonna pop a Glock in your mouth and make a brain Slushie" I don't know how anyone can argue that kids today are protected from guns. It isn't toys that gave her that twisted view on guns.

Stephen Worth said...

Power Rangers was a pale imitation of the great Japanese shows that it ripped off and homoginizef. Add Johnny Sokko and his Giant Robot to your Netflix cue.

JoJo said...

It's strange and sad that the Star Wars films seem to be the oldest movies most of my generation can remember, maybe a generation or two before as well. It's almost like nothing existed before the 70s, let alone science fiction.

JoJo said...

I should have clarified a bit more in my previous post: Science fiction before Star Wars.

Billy Sajdera said...

Well... guess that's that!

Ben Redlich said...

That's gotta be the best toy gun ever made! I had pretty cool cap guns growing up, that was in the 80s. They were loud enough to leave your ears ringing and had enough powder to make a spark out the barrel and smoke generously. But I recently bought one for my nephew and I was very disappointed to see they just make a little "pfft" when you pull the trigger. Pathetic.

Ben Redlich said...

That's gotta be the best toy gun ever made! I had pretty cool cap guns growing up, that was in the 80s. They were loud enough to leave your ears ringing and had enough powder to make a spark out the barrel and smoke generously. But I recently bought one for my nephew and I was very disappointed to see they just make a little "pfft" when you pull the trigger. Pathetic.

Carmine said...

I think giving boys toy guns on a regular basis, can possibly militarize them and their generation. In a subtle and subconscious way. People here keep saying that the 50s/60s kids grew up to be peaceful, but is that really true? Sure, its the people who grew up in the 80s and 90s that are fighting our current bs wars, but what generation do you think sent them there??

Having said that, I loved toy guns as a kid. My favorite were simple dart guns and those pellet guns. BB guns were fun too. I was never into nerf stuff much because they were too clunky and always had foam darts, and I liked hard plastic ones.

Isaak said...

Don't forget its utter stupidity. There was one episode in which the Power Rangers were telling the youngins to get an education.

Also, we don't seem to have as cool a crop of geniuses (Scientists). Where is our Feynmann or Oppenhemier or Einstein. van Braun, the go-to baddie worked for Disney.

Jorge said...

"I was 20 when I saw Star Wars and thought I was watching Happy Days in space. Everything was brown, soft and without any design. Like someone's home movie."

Oh, come on! The film has a beautiful look-like a 50s Cinemascope adventure movie, and in 1977!

Great composition and framing- straight out of Ford, Leone and Kurosawa.

"Power Rangers was a pale imitation of the great Japanese shows that it ripped off and homoginizef. Add Johnny Sokko and his Giant Robot to your Netflix cue"

Steve, it was essentially the same show- not at all homogenized, but just with added footage.

I think the design for the Dinozord in the first season of Might Morphin' Power Rangers is one of the great, iconic, all time robot mecha designs- right up there with Optimus Prime and Voltron.

JohnK said...

It has the look of a 70s TV sitcom living room.

Stephen Worth said...

Compare the look of Star Wars to Forbidden Planet or Buck Rogers. Instead of Robby the Robot, we get a trash can that beeps. Instead of cool space ships with fins belching flames, we get shoeboxes with cheerios glued all over them. Instead of a fierce id monster we get a cross between a teddy bear and bigfoo that goes "arrrf". Star Wars takes everything from the past that is awe inspiring and fantastic and makes it ordinary and mundane.

Power Rangers took stories about a little kid who shot at gangsters with a machine gun and wielded the controls of a colossal carrot nosed robot big enough to crush his school under his heel, and turned it into a bunch of bad soap opera actors in rubber suits reciting scripts that even Sid and Marty Croft would have rejected.

Stephen Worth said...

"one of the great, iconic, all time robot mecha designs- right up there with Optimus Prime and Voltron"

And Lady GaGa is one of the all time great iconic pop divas- right up there with Lindsay Lohan and Christina Agulerra!

Isaak said...

As a child of the 90s, I can say at least we had great shows like Adventures of Pete and Pete and Ren and Stimpy.

Another thing Nickelodeon did was broadcast Looney Tunes for an hour.

Ah, the Scannell years.

Isaak said...

Stephen and Jorge, you are both right.

They are magnificent IN their horribleness. Centuries of architecture are overturned.

But Mr. Worth, would you at least admit that kind of horror is attractive in its own kitchy way

Stephen Worth said...

There aren't enough days in a lifetime to appreciate everything that is so good it's great. Why waste time on stuff that's so bad it's good? I absorbed a lot of crappy stuff as a kid, but I'm happy to put that behind me. I certainly won't make excuses for it now that I know better.

Jorge said...

"Star Wars takes everything from the past that is awe inspiring and fantastic and makes it ordinary and mundane."

That's like complaining that foreign movies that take for granted their country of origin are bad because they "turn the awe-inspiring into the mundane" because they don't make a big show out of exploring their setting the way an American film set in a foreign land does.

The entire point of Star Wars is to present the universe as a given-like a foreign film that doesn't explain every detail or custum or ritual of their culture. That's why the film has a look of a "used future." Whatever happened to showing, not telling?

"And Lady GaGa is one of the all time great iconic pop divas- right up there with Lindsay Lohan and Christina Agulerra!"
Come on, are you telling me THIS is a bad design? Compare this to the godawful Michael Bay Transformers designs John posted a year ago and tell me that with a straight face. This is bold, iconic, and heroic design. Everything is well designed with clarity in mind.

"It has the look of a 70s TV sitcom living room."
No it doesn't. You know what does look like that? Star Trek.

Did Star Wars ruin moves? Yes. Did Star Wars ruin SF? Yes. Was it a bad influence? Yes.

Is it a bad movie? No.

Isaak said...

Fair enough.

Speaking of something actually good, Night of the Hunter will finally be released on Criterion.


FINALLY

Now that and the release of the Censored 11 with no remastering and numerous commentaries and a large pizza with black olives, and I'm all set.

Isaak said...

What do you think of Dickens' drawings? he is brilliant at conveying the situation at the given point of the novel. He might have been the original caricaturist. For proof look at Fagin, using shadow to convey his evilness.

Eric said...

What's with all the hating on Star Wars? People have different tastes, and I suppose it could have been done better, but I for one really like the concept of a samurai movie/sci-fi and I really love the music. Speaking of the music, some time before the sound track was recorded some of the producers were talking about using disco music but George Lucas wanted to have a classical/orchestral track. Although Luke Skywalker is what Mark Hamill is best known for, I'd say he was better as the Joker in "Batman: the Animated Series."

Eric said...

Also, does anyone know where to find subtitled Zyuranger (or any other Super Sentai) DVDs? I want to see how much better than Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers it is. From what I understand it's basically the same except the story and non-costumed parts were changed for the American kids.

Stephen Worth said...

Yes, Jorge. That is a bland combination of primary colored Lego bricks. Not good design. No imagination.

http://www.chaoskids.com/ROBOTS/ROBBY/RobbyBox1Big.jpeg

Stephen Worth said...

Eric, if you like the music in Star Wars you'll love Holst and Wagner and all the other great composers Williams ripped off to create his pasteurized processed soundtrack for the film.

b said...

Whatever John K says is true, so why even argue it? Be one of his minions and just blindly accept everything he says as fact or shut up.

Eric said...

So at what point does one go from being influenced by something to ripping it off? Where's the line? I'm not saying that Williams didn't rip anyone off, I have no idea, but do people need to be completely original? Is it even possible?

Also, Mr. Worth said: "Power Rangers was a pale imitation of the great Japanese shows that it ripped off and homogenized."

I wonder if you have heard of "Zyuranger"? Does the phrase "Super Sentai" ring a bell? I'm sure the plot lines were better in the original Japanese show, but the (costumed) action sequences in MMPR were footage from Super Sentai Zyuranger. These included all of the giant robot fights as well. I'm not sure if you knew that because you were saying how great Japanese shows were and then you slammed the design of the Megazord (not that it isn't ugly) which is originally from a Japanese show.

Eric said...

Actually, MMPR went for three seasons and used footage from three Super Sentai shows, Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger, Gosei Sentai Dairanger, Ninja Sentai Kakuranger. One for each season. After MMPR ended, there were other Power Rangers shows that used footage from other Super Sentai shows.

Eric said...

And no; I'm not just getting it from my head. I do know how to use Wikipedia. :)

Pokey said...

I was 17 in 1977 when Star Wars came out and i didn't care to see it, though I do enjoy Star Wars now. Not much a Star Trek fan..BUT I MORE so appreciate Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, and the golden original era of that stuff.

Power Rangers is mighty violent..but hardly as much as some would say..it's cheap looking..and borrowed from too many older shows..

Pokey said...

"And no; I'm not just getting it from my head. I do know how to use Wikipedia. :)"

Which is so open to any internet user..even a dumb chimp can edit it.:)

Pokey said...

Jorge, Nerf toys started in the 70s..

Pokey said...

PS If ANY one speaketh ill of Art Clokey and his creations..they WILL LIVE TO REGRET it! [sinister laugh]..

PS John K: "I wasn't grumpy until 1969." In 1969 we all stumbled across one of the last great cartoons, desgined by our hero, Paul Coker, Rankin-Bass's "Frosty the Snowman". My all time favorite special by them, with voices of Jimmy Durante, Jackie Vernon, Billy DeWolfe, June Foray, & Paul Frees.Durante and DeWolfe themselves were distinctive showbiz types physically and vocally..

Eric said...

"Which is so open to any internet user..even a dumb chimp can edit it.:)"

Hehe. True.

Jorge said...

Steve, the robots I'm talking about aren't Robbie the Robot type of robots. They're Superman.

Emily L'Orange said...

Children's toys are flamboyant colors now because, at a distance, you can't tell if a replica is a dangerous weapon or not.

Keeps jerks from robbing banks with a supersoaker, keeps cops from shooting kids (or drunk adults :P).

Maybe not as fun, but probably better than the alternative.

Forbidden Hippo said...

Hey, I know your sour on the way things turned after the 60's, and for the most part your dead on with your criticisms but seriously man, every kid alive today and I'm pretty sure most adults want a light sabre. I remember when me and my buddy were little kids we drew up blue prints for one. It never came to fruition. One day....one day.

Johnny said...

Hey john..

Kids now play with "air soft" guns.. basically fancy bb guns renamed so moms don't freak out.

And let me tell ya... air soft guns are basically REAL GUNS..

Every kid I teach has them... from handguns to real sniper rifles.. and they hurt like hell!

EalaDubh said...

"I was 20 when I saw Star Wars and thought I was watching Happy Days in space."

And then three years later, you WERE.