Saturday, October 24, 2015

Teaching My Kids What I Don't Know About Toys

They say that everything old is new again and for me that proved true on a recent Saturday afternoon with my boys. While playing with some new toys, the almost-6 year old Little Dude started asking me questions to which I held no answers. For most people my age, they would have probably been no-brainers, but I was baffled in a way that I was not used to.

Opening the big brown box to discover adventures waiting to happen from Jurassic World, Transformers and Marvel I felt a twinge of unease in my stomach. I pride myself on being a pop culture aficionado, but these were items to which I held virtually no knowledge. Sure, I’d played with Transformers when I was a kid – THIRTY YEARS AGO; but I had no clue who the Rescuebots were or what they are about. Same goes for the Jurassic universe, where I had never made the journey until seeing the new film over the past summer. And as for the super heroes, I can admit (though I probably shouldn’t) that I still don’t instinctively always recall whether characters are from the Marvel universe or its alternative, let alone their origin stories.  

What’s weird about this is that these are three ginormous watercooler-type properties and I felt like a dunce in front of my children. I’m sure they didn’t notice, but I had no clue what the alternate blue suit Iron Man could dress up in was about. That did not stop them, however from having a great time exploring the characters and blurring the lines between these three respective universes.

Who cares if Iron Man doesn’t usually ride a T-Rex, or if that same T-Rex was hanging out on a big boat? Certainly not my boys. They played the afternoon away as I stealthily searched for Iron Man factoids on my iPhone. We learned together, which turned out to be a fabulous methodology. 

The one thing that was most familiar to me that day was Playskool, the classic brand behind these Playskool Heroes sets designed to introduce kids to some franchises they may not have been typically exposed to. Intended for kids 3 to 7, sometimes even kids older than 37 can benefit from the creative play they afford.

I remember seeing the first Iron Man movie shortly after its release about 6 years ago. Mrs. Dude was pregnant and I thought the movie was a lot of fun, which is not my typical take on superhero movies but I dug the snark from Mr. Stark. Flash forward a half dozen years and two births and we just never quite made it to see any of the sequels. Tony Stark’s lair was memorable, and this set was a great introduction for my boys into the world of Stark Industries, or at least the cool house you can have if you work hard enough and have a rad goatee.

The Rescuebots set was actually an area where the boys taught me, having been slightly familiar with the brand from playing with their cousin, a big Transformers guru, and I dug the refresher given my slight frame of reference went back to the original
late ‘80s Transformers cartoon. Let’s just say that I thought they were more than meets the eye THEN, so I was quite impressed by what they are now.

And as for good-old T-Rex? Everyone can relate to him, whether familiar with the Jurassic world or not, including even the trainer who joins him in the set and who will inevitably get eaten by Rex roughly a thousand times per play session.

So where does this leave us? Well, now that we all have a base-level feel for these three franchises, a great launch point for my sons and me to learn about them together.

I received compensation & toys from Hasbro, makers of Playskool Heroes, in exchange for this post, but all opinions contained within are mine alone, for better or worse lest I be eaten by a T-Rex.

Want more pics from our Playskool and other adventures? 
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