As some of you may know, my oldest daughter, all of 5, is a budding Star Wars geek.
Don’t worry, she still digs Rapunzel from Tangled and various other Disney characters, but she migrates between those things and stuff that some people might dismiss as “just for boys.” To them, I say, “Pffft!” If my kid wants to do the Star Wars thang, I’m not going to discourage her. We haven’t graduated to the actual movies yet, but she (and her younger sister, to a lesser extent) really likes the Clone Wars series. Thanks to the merchandising behemoth that is Lucasfilm, there are plenty of books, games, and other items intended for kids in her age bracket to make her eyes go all “HOLY SCHNIKES!” whenever we happen past the toy section at the store.
One evening, after a particularly extended run of good behavior at home, school, and Taekwondo, we decided to let them take some of their Christmas gift money and pick out something at the store. For some reason they’ve gotten into Thomas the Train, so we’ve acquired a couple of those sets (which all can connect together to form a GIGANTIC TRAIN SET THAT CONSUMES ALL OF THE OPEN SPACE IN THE LIVING ROOM). It’s actually pretty cool, and half the fun is working out the different configurations for the tracks and sets to wind under and around furniture, and all of that jazz. Erin, focused on that bit of fun, picked out yet another expansion set. At this rate, I may be able to fashion a system which will deliver chicken wings from the kitchen down to my office and return the dirty plate upstairs on command.
Meanwhile, Addy literally stopped in her tracks and her mouth did indeed drop open when her eyes fell upon this:
I’d seen these before, long with other figures and vehicles. Playskool has a Star Wars license, and they’ve put together a pretty slick line of toys for the 3-6 range. As you can see, the Falcon opens up to make a playset, and there’s all sorts of little accessory doo-dads to snap into this bracket or plug into that connector. Stuff like the dish and the cannon pops off the outside and snaps into place on the inside. Everything seems designed for little, awkward hands in mind. Opening the ship too far doesn’ break it; it just pops off and you can pop it right back on. All the little pieces go inside when the kid’s done playing, you pop it closed, and it even has a little concealed carrying handle. The figures are rendered in that exaggerated/stylized manner that for some reason to me is just frikkin’ cool.
Where the HELL was this kind of stuff when I was a little kid? Part of me wants to run out and get all the other vehicles and figures for this line. You know, for the kids. Always for the kids, you know.
Of course, as we get it home and I start helping the kids put this and the train set together, I keep returning to one thought…..
Why the HELL doesn’t Star Trek have stuff like this?!?
If I could’ve had a playset like this, with totally whacked-out versions of the Enterprise and Kirk and the gang when I was a wee lad, I’d have flown that thing around the house and out in the yard until it crumbled to dust. Playsets for the bridge, engineering, the transporter room, an alien planet/village/whatever? A shuttlecraft? Hell, I’d buy one of everything right now if somebody made the stuff.
You know…for the kids.
Yes, Star Wars is more popular than Star Trek, at least when it comes to kids and toys. I don’t know if that’s just a characteristic of each property’s fandom as a whole, or what. I know it’s not a function of CBS being unwilling to provide licenses for such things, because some really fun stuff has come out over the past few years. That said, whenever any Star Trek merchandise is announced which brings with it anything approaching “whimsy,” hardcore fans seem to foam at the mouth, weeping and wailing at this latest assault on the Holy Trek. “How dare they sully the sanctity of Roddenberry’s vision” or some such dumbass thing.
Meanwhile, Star Wars keeps getting the cool shit, and kids eat it up.
And I’m right there on the floor beside them, having a grand old time. Pew! Pew! Oh, and the train tracks run right past the spaceport, yo.