Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How Awesome Are These Christmas Toys?

When I was a sophomore in college, I wrote the following column in a December 2006 edition of Notre Dame's school newspaper, The Observer. I stand by the article, Mariah Carey-inspired title and all:

All I Want for Christmas 

What's that? I'm in college so I'm not supposed to love Christmas toys anymore?

I don't believe you. But even if I am too old to drool over the best merchandise in the Toys 'R' Us catalogue, I've always said that you can never grow too old to write a column in The Observer ranking the greatest toys ever. I've always said that.

Anyways, let's get this list started.

I'll rank the greatest Christmas toys ever made, with each one's ranking in parentheses. Please understand that toys fall under a huge variety of categories, and there's no way I'll be able to cover all of your favorites. I'll try my best, though.

Let's begin with the Christmas mainstays, the playthings that seem to have a permanent place under millions of trees each year. You know them -- Cabbage Patch Kids dolls (6), G.I. Joe action figures (5), the Pogo Stick (11), Barbie dolls (8), LiteBrite (14) and Lego building blocks (17).

Of course, there are also the annoying fad toys that each show up for only one December and bring about the worst in parents like Sinbad and Arnold Schwartzenegger. A list of Christmas toys wouldn't be complete without these. They include Tickle Me Elmo (16), the creepy Furby doll (20), and the Tamagotchi (15, because who wouldn't want to clean up an electronic animal's poop during the holiday season?).

Then we have the toys that every kid wants after watching an awesome movie featuring said toy. The best of this group are the Red Rider B.B. gun from A Christmas Story (13, although nowadays, this may only be considered a toy if you live south of the Mason Dixon line), the TalkBoy voice recorder from Home Alone 2 (7), and the tricycle ridden by that little girl in The Shining (just kidding, that didn't make the list).

The rest of the list is a hodgepodge of great memories from the childhoods of people far and wide. Creepy Crawlers (19), Nerf balls (18), Polly Pocket (12), Lincoln Logs (10), Lionel trains (4), Hot Wheels cars and tracks (3), and those sweet Nerf guns (2) hold special places in many of our hearts. You're welcome if I just gave you a flashback to the glory days.

Note that, in making this list, I disqualified generic toys like bicycles, sleds, video games and board games. Also, I steered clear of educational toys because they generally are not fun to play with. Finally, I am sorry if this list is somewhat gender-biased... Actually, no, I'm not.

Without further ado, the greatest Christmas toy of all time: The Hess Truck (1). That's right. With a new design each year since 1964, the Hess Truck is an affordable, must-have toy for tons of people every Christmas.

This year's Hess Truck comes with a helicopter and a flatbed truck, all equipped with flashing lights.* The great song on its commercials clinches the top spot for this timeless toy. "For Christmaaaaaaaaaaaasss this year…the Hess Truck's here!"

Long live the king!
*Remember, I wrote that article back in 2006. This year's edition of my top toy is a "heavy-duty Hess Truck and fully motorized multi-terrain tractor...built to move mountains." (See above.) Like I said, I stand by College FranT. The Hess Truck is the best.

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