Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Growing Old With Colorforms

I had to laugh the other morning when I clicked on Facebook and read my friend Van’s status. You see, Van (who is the same age that I am) came to the conclusion that he’s old and it was confirmed when he discovered that one of his co-workers at Macon (Georgia) Animal Control had never heard of, and had never seen, the classic kid’s toy “Colorforms”. Naturally, Van’s co-worker was born in 1982 – which means that he probably doesn’t know that toys didn’t always come with the warnings like “Assembly required” or “Needs batteries”. You see, Colorforms was a toy that required the little ones playing with it to use their imagination….imagine that…using your imagination during playtime!

Colorforms have always had a soft spot in my heart. It’s one of the few toys that I had as a kid that I still remember to this day. For those who have never experience the joy of playing with Colorforms – let me tell you a little bit about them. Most of the big cartoon shows of the late 50s and 60s were converted into Colorforms for kids to play with. I think I got my first box of Colorforms – the Popeye the Sailor edition – from Santa Claus one Christmas.

Colorforms are little pieces of vinyl that are cut out in the shapes of cartoon characters, clothes or even things associated with the cartoon characters – such as Popeye’s can of spinach. You would take the different Colorforms character shapes and place them on this black vinyl covered piece of cardboard using while your young mind concocted some story to go with the placement of the Colorforms cartoon characters. They also made “dress up” Colorforms that you would put Colorforms clothes on a picture of a boy or a girl in their underwear on a vinyl covered piece of cardboard..

If there ever was a low tech toy – it was Colorforms. There’s another thing about Colorforms that I remember and that’s that vinyl smell you got when you opened the box. There’s no finer scent to a child growing up in the 60s than that of Colorforms (and maybe the smell of those freshly printed off ditto test sheets that your teacher passed out to you in school).

If my buddy Van really wants to feel old – maybe he could sit his young co-worker down at lunch one day and discuss another low tech toy with him –like the Slinky. Those of us old enough to remember Slinky are probably humming Slinky’s commercial jingle to yourself as you read this. Explain to a kid in 2010 – who is shouting for his parents to buy a Gameboy, Game Box or Wii that we use to play with a wound up piece of metal that would climb down steps – and I guarantee you that the kid will think you’re nuts.

And what is one of the hottest toys on the market today? It's a toy hamster that is pretty damn life-like. When we grew up – we had real hamsters and unlike the kids of today who just put batteries in theirs – our hamsters actually died and shit where he slept. And there’s the “Guitar Hero” game that make you feel like you’re playing guitar in a rock n’ roll band. When we grew up – we didn’t play guitar – we took lessons – and if we were good – we got to be in a rock n’ roll band. Imagine that concept.

Times have changed and so have the toys that we played with growing up. I’m sure that, in the not too distant future, my buddy Van is going to come across someone other than a younger co-worker, who has never heard of Colorforms, a Slinky or even Hula Hoops, and he’ll feel old once again. Admit it, Van – you’re getting old – but you’re not alone – there are a lot of us right behind you keeping a close eye on how you handle it. Maybe someday someone will cheer up a old man like you with a special Animal Control Officer Edition box of Colorforms – wouldn't that be nice?

1 comment:

Van said...

What a great idea....Animal Control Colorforms! Dogs, cats, alligators (here in the South)..Pit Bulls attacking the poor officer..the ideas are endless!