Rest in Piece(s) Toys "R" Us




"I don't wanna grow up... I'm a Toys "R" Us kid..."

If you've grown up in the era of NES or SNES, there's a good chance you've heard that famous jingle on television sometime, or even hummed it somewhere. Toys "R" Us was an important part of our childhoods and it's announced closure this year brought back a flood of memories for anyone that's been inside it's colorful doors or ever picked up one of those paper slips in front of the video games and brought it up to the counter to exchange it for your purchased game.


The chain was founded in 1948 by Charles P. Lazarus and evolved in the late 50s into Toys "R" Us. It was headquartered in Wayne, New Jersey. Lazarus passed away at age 94 on March 22, 2018, and the company he founded is expected to go with him in June 2018 after liquidation.

Times Square Ferris Wheel (taken by me in 2003)

There are a number of reported reasons the chain is going under. A shift in shopping to online retailers, expensive products, a shift over to a lot of digital content, bad money management, bad restructuring deal... there's a lot of blame going around. Kids these days are content ordering their favorite games online and waiting as long as the download finishes to play them as opposed to going to a brick and mortar store and picking out a physical copy. Kids these days are content ordering their favorite toys off Amazon or other retailers, or there's a Wal-Mart or Target in shorter distance. We've even heard the ridiculous statement on social media that "Millennials aren't having as many kids" as a reason for why the chain is going under.


Fact of the matter is it's going under. Whatever the reason, we're left with the memories of what was once the go-to for any toy or video game. Kids in the 80s dreamed of a shopping spree there. Kids in the 90s eagerly awaited the toy catalogue in November to browse what they wanted for the Holidays.


I don't wanna grow up!
Toys "R" Us is synonymous with my video gaming experience. There was one close by, and equal distance away a Kiddie City chain (smaller version of a Toys "R" Us). Both had the same layout for video games. But Toys "R" Us had something special. It's colorful columns in the 1980s made it feel like a kid was walking into a magical world. You walked in, past a clearance section, into the store proper. For a kid obsessed with Nintendo in the 80s, the video game section seemed to glow like Willy Wonka's magical front gates into the Chocolate Factory. There were no games on display, just covers, and a pouch underneath with tickets. You brought one of those tickets to the front counter, paid for the game, and exchanged it in a glass encased booth near the exit for your purchased title. Same thing for video game systems.


As a kid my family used to purchase a small pool every year for the backyard (city living meant a 1 1/2 foot pool was sufficient to get cool in the summer time). Friends from school would come over, we'd play in the pool for a few hours, then plop in front of our NES and play video games for hours. Snacks were provided, games were played, it was a more innocent time. Rainy days were spent with action figures, cartoons, and of course, head first into Ninja Gaiden, or Double Dragon, or even Mega Man 2. After school allowed a brief period of snacks, playing a game, and watching a cartoon or 2 before tackling homework. And of course that feeling during the holidays of tearing open those Toys "R" Us purchased goodies and spending the day enjoying the holiday haul before and after dinner.
I got me a Game Boy from Toys R Us! (1990 Metallic Joe)


Toys "R" Us was a huge part of my childhood. Even if you sub out the chain with Kay Bee, Caldor or even one of the early Target stores, chances are you may have had a similar experience growing up. Watching the liquidation is like a part of my childhood being gone for good, even if the store has long been remodeled and changed, and of course not even closely resembling the 80s incarnation.

Almost every person involved in the Retro Gaming scene will more then likely say they're into it because it brings them back to their childhoods. People much younger into the same scene may say it's to bring them to an era before they were born that's been described by a lot of bloggers as magical. It can be argued as well that a lot of the older generation would claim their childhoods were in fact the best era and the following generations just don't know how to have fun properly. Regardless of what era you claim as your own, chances are Toys "R" Us was a huge part of it, and that's the real, actual tragedy of this corporate entity's downfall.



-Metallic Joe-
 
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