We Will Always Be A ‘Toys R Us’ Kid!

I don’t wanna grow up, I’m a Toys R Us kid
they got a million toys at Toys R us that I can play with
I don’t wanna grow up, I’m a Toys R Us kid
they got the best for so much less, it’ll really flip your lid
From bikes to trains to video games
it’s the biggest toy store there is (gee whiz!)
I don’t wanna grow up, cause maybe if I did
I couldn’t be a Toys R Us kid
more games, more toys, oh boy!
I wanna be a Toys R Us kid 
 

Growing up in the 1980’s, Toys R Us kids were all united across the nation. Didn’t matter what toys you played with. Be it Kenner’s Super Powers DC, Star Wars, G.I. Joe, TMNT, The Real Ghostbusters, or Transformers. We were all Toys R Us kids. It is with a heavy heart that we all got out of bed this week to learn the news that the very last of the Mohicans toy brick and mortar store will be closing all of their remaining stores across the country after almost seven decades of putting smiles on children’s faces around the world and putting a estimated 33,000 American jobs in the unemployment line. Back in the day, such a news announcement would of been considered as a April fools joke. Sadly, this isn’t April. 

My memory of Toys R Us as kid are filled with so many moments of joy. There was a special sense of “theme park gate entrance” excitement as the huge mascot, Geoffrey the Giraffe, greeted us as while walking in the doors of our local Toys R Us. There was just something magical about being surrounded by toys, toys, games, and more games. You could walk down one aisle and see a dozen G1 Optimus Prime’s in all his shiny mint box splendor. You could then go around the corner and see literally hundreds of G.I. Joe and Star Wars figures all on the pegs ready to go home with you. Head towards the back electronic section and there you could check out the latest Sega Genesis and Nintendo SNES/NES games and consoles. Like a kid refusing to get out of the pool as the sun set on a summer day, kids could spend hours in a Toys R Us if our parents allowed. 

I am sure each and every one of us has that special childhood nostalgic memory. For me, three come to mind the most. The first, one random day at the age of five, my mother surprised me and told me to get into the car. No mention of where we were going. Times for my mother were hard after a devastating divorce from my father and I was in a bit of a depression. After a good twenty minutes of looking out the window wondering where we were going, it happened. I saw the huge Geoffrey the Giraffe Toys R Us sign from the exit. Still unaware that my mother had just received her income tax and would soon be taking me up and down the toy filled aisle’s throwing Star Wars, Transformers, and G.I. Joe’s in our shopping cart. What a day! 

The second was at the age of twelve in 1989. Batman fever was at a all time high thanks to the huge success of Tim Burton’s Batman summer blockbuster. The new Batman toy line was the hottest toy line that year in my town. Especially the Batmobile. Almost impossible to find one. Batmobiles were flying off the shelves as soon as they were stocked. Again, my mother pulled into a Toys R Us parking lot on a dark and stormy night. I was told to wait in the car. Earlier that day, a very nice Toys R Us employee had agreed by phone to hold a Batmobile for one hour. Like Adam West and Burt Ward racing out the Bat Cave, my mother and I jumped in the car during a vicious thunderstorm and headed to Toys R Us and sure enough after twenty anxious filled minutes, the 1989 movie line Batmobile was in my hands to be played with for countless hours of playtime. Nothing but a smile on my face the rest of the drive home.

The last great childhood memory came at the age of sixteen. I was no longer playing with toys, but that didn’t mean I was no longer a Toys R Us kid. I had saved all my checks from my first job for two months and proudly walked in to my Toys R Us and bought my first gaming console with my own money. A Super Nintendo with Super Street Fighter 2 and NBA Jam. I felt my first sense of pride when I pulled out my wallet at the register. Looking back now as I write this, I realize that Toys R Us was the very first place I made my first major purchase as a young adult in the making.

Those golden era day’s will always make me smile.

Unfortunately as a adult, Toys R Us wasn’t quite the same. Sure, I have great memories of going to the toy chain with my daughter and watching her smile in awe as she wondered the store surrounded my dolls and games, my adult collecting hunting in the wild trips for the latest wave of G.I. Joe, or just casually walking around looking for something new and unique thanks to the smaller toy brands that were always welcomed by the store chain(something I doubt you will ever see at a Walmart or Target I might add). Still, there was something different about this present day Toys R Us. Employees walked around looking miserable as they stared at the clock waiting for their shift to end. Ask a question about the availability of certain item and you were most likely greeted with a blank face shooting worthless “sorry, I don’t know” sentences out their mouths. Never a “let me see what I can do”. I remember when I bought the SDCC 6 inch movie TMNT exclusives from the Toys R Us web site. Apparently, the company had a policy to not ship more than three items per box. So when I added my all four turtles in one package item to checkout, I was billed a additional shipping charge for one extra box for just one extra turtle that could of easily been fitted in the huge box with the other three turtles. Needless to say, that was my first and last time doing any online business with the retailer. 

When news broke out this past holiday season that the company was on the cliff of going bankrupt due to horrendous mismanagement by a private firm who bought the company in 2005, I decided to go to my local Toys R Us for perhaps the last time to do some holiday Christmas shopping. What was once a annual shopping parent stampede was now a virtual ghost town. Clearance bins that still had slightly over price tags, empty shelves, unhappy employees who didn’t want to be there, and a few shoppers walking up and down looking for anything to put in their empty carts was the atmosphere. For old time sake, I bought a few video games (something I haven’t purchased at a Toys R Us in twenty plus years), and some Last Jedi Star Wars figures. It was my personal farewell to a magical place that will always hold a special place in my heart.

As the next couple of months go by, we will all have our local Toys R Us doors close for good leaving not just a wounded heart on Toys R Us kids everywhere, but perhaps a even more damaging blow to the toy industry itself. Sure, we can all go online and have something shipped to us, but gone will be the days of walking into a toy store and just having fun going up and down the toy aisles hoping to hit a new wave toy line jackpot or discovering something completely new and fun. Looks like kids and adults everywhere will have to be forced to grow up and not be a Toys R Us kid anymore. Like Blockbuster Video, a piece of Americana has died. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I am sure deep in our childhood hearts, we will all be forever united as a Toys R Us kid. Farewell Geoffrey the Giraffe and the biggest toy store there ever was. What are your feelings about Toys R Us? Let us know AFTER THE JUMP!

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