Toys “Were” Us

Cabbage Patch Doll. 1983.

Teddy Ruxpin. 1995.

Tickle Me Elmo. 1996.

Furby. 1998.

Pokemon. 1999.

Nintendo, XBox, Playstation. Forever.

These are just a few of the toys that made us lose our mind.

Marketing strategies stirred up popularity, kids begged for their favorites from Santa. Manufacturing shortages led to holiday shopping riots.

It brought out the “ugly” in parents on a global basis.

Even Arnold Schwarzenegger is reduced to tears, caught up in the Christmas Eve frenzied search for a fictional hot toy in the 1996 film “Jingle All the Way.”

This past September, retail giant Toys “R” Us  announced that it had filed for bankruptcy. Weeks later, it issued its Christmas wish catalog, saying the brick and mortar stores will be open for holiday shopping.

It seems like the writing was on the wall when they announced the closure of their flagship store in Times Square at the end of the 2015 holiday season.

NYC. Times Square 2015

The mammoth store, that featured a working Ferris wheel, a life-size Barbie house, and a 10 ft. animatronic T- Rex, closed just months after F.A.O. Schwarz, the palace of unique, traditional toys featured in Tom Hanks’ movie “Big.”

It seems like toy stores are going the way of the mall in 2017 America.

And that’s too bad. Or is it ?

Parents won’t be lined up at midnight on a cold Black Friday night to get this year’s hottest toy, electronic baby monkeys called Fingerlings.

They’ll be stationed at their computer, waiting to connect to Amazon.

And if you find yourself in the city that never sleeps, you can shop from 8 am to 2 am at the Gap/Old Navy store that just opened in that choice location on Times Square.

October 2017.



This entry was posted in Art, Books, Education, Entertainment, Fashion, Movies, News, Technology and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

77 Responses to Toys “Were” Us

  1. Laura says:

    Loved this list. It brought back all the memories!

  2. The V Pub says:

    So sad! Another iconic business goes the way of the blackberry.

  3. Don’t forget the beanie babies…especially that princess bear. Everyone lost their collective minds trying to get that one, too.

    I remember working retail when the cabbage patch dolls were a hot thing. Don’t remember much else about that Christmas season, as it all blends into a blur of punching numbers, money in and out of the till, and packing stuff in bags.

    • And now, I see those beanie babies at yard sales..which was the fate of My Little Pony, Ninja Turtles, Transformers, etc. etc. etc.
      A brother in law was working retail, and got us a Cabbage Patch for our newborn. She wasn’t real impressed.

  4. Thank goodness we don’t have to worry about all this any more 🙂

  5. I went out on Black Friday ONCE. Not to shop, but to see the madness. Which convinced me to not do it again. But, I know lots of families that make it a family event of fun and adventure.

  6. DGGYST says:

    Its strange. I was thinking the other day that there are going to be so many unusued buildings in the future. Cars will be self driving and all be on service, so no more mechanic shops, grocery stores will all deliver from a giant warehouse, no more grocery stores. Thank god there will always be bars…

  7. joey says:

    I think we got off easier than my parents did. The Cabbage Patch Doll. Oh the crazed mommies. And in my case, Daddy. I got two that first Christmas, perhaps a perk of divorce.
    My kids went through Pokemon crazes and Webkinz crazes and Harry Potter crazes. I’m one of those early shopping people, so when the kid likes it in October, I go back and get it or start hunting online.
    There was some hoopla over a hatching toy, Hatchimals last year. I had friends who were paying exorbitant prices for them online, as they’d sold out in stores. I felt grateful we had none of that. I feel grateful to be off the hook for HAFTA HAVE presents overall.
    I do not want to shop at Times Square. I would like to drink and watch the crowds from some not too high place though 🙂

    • I almost mentioned those Hatchimals, I think a lot of them malfunctioned, after all the hype. Those 2 cabbage patch, so sorry for the reason. And yes, the people watching, and the people listening (such a melting pot of language) is the best. I’ve never been there (or anywhere) with the goal of shopping.

  8. I used to take the kids to the toy store to see what they might like, and then I ordered through a catalog – or online, once that became popular. Hiding the boxes when they came in was a bit of a trick, however.

  9. Ally Bean says:

    Tickle Me Elmo. What I went through to get one of those for my nephew! I liked wandering around inside Toys “R” Us, but considering they were inconveniently located, near or in malls, I never went to one unless I had a specific purchase in mind. I’m not much of a mortar and brick shopper so buying anything online appeals to me. Still, it’s the passing of an era.

  10. This was GREAT, Van. I could barely believe how long it has been since the Cabbage Patch craze. It is sad to me that NYC’s great toy stores couldn’t make it, however – Amazon isn’t nearly as much fun! The end of an era – for bad or for worse.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!

    • It’s hard to imagine that kids would never set foot in a toy store, M. End of an era, for sure.

      • It was like going to Disneyland. *I* loved going there, and popped in whenever I was in the area.

        The most spectacular toys were pricier than most parents could afford, however – and, FAO at least, lacked a section of truly inexpensive playthings. I think many parents didn’t take their kids because they didn’t want to *always* leave empty-handed. Tourists were seldom repeat buyers, which is what a store needs to stay alive.

      • You know, now that you mention it, I/we never bought anything from either store in NYC…more of a tourist attraction.

      • Thus their bankruptcy. duh!

        If you expect to remain viable as a brick and mortar business you can’t price the majority of your merchandise out of the reach of *most* of your market (and you have to KNOW what that means in terms of customer discretionary cash).

        What ARE they teaching in b-school anymore?

  11. Erika Kind says:

    I liked Toys R Us a lot. We bought our daughter’s first bike there right after we moved to the States. We had a store not too far away from where we live and I enjoyed going there.

  12. I’ll never forget my disappointment when I got my GI Joe and he just laid there and did nothing. I mean he just laid there! And did nothing! I loved the Toys R Us store in San Francisco. It closed in 2006.

  13. I’ve been very lucky in that my kids have never once hoped for the season’s “must have” toy or gadget. That’s an advantage to have non-conformist geeks. I’ve, therefore, never had that experience of having to surmount obstacles and succeed in that challenge.

  14. J.D. Riso says:

    FAO Schwartz and Toys R Us closed?! I didn’t know that so many iconic stores are disappearing. Brick and morter stores are still going strong over here in Europe. Amazon is so creepy.

    • It is taking away a very valid childhood experience, Julie. And that’s too bad. I really don’t use Amazon much, aside from books, but it is the way of so many. There’s even a way they can get access to your house, to deliver inside the door, preventing theft. But it seems like a slippery slope to me.

      • J.D. Riso says:

        Oh my. Inside the house? Totally creepy. The fact that they have that Echo apparatus, which records everything you say in a centralized location, also horrifying. I only use them if there’s no other option. If they have their way, all stores will close and we’ll have to depend on them for everything.

      • The Big Brother of the new millennium ?

  15. George says:

    Memory lane and a very nice look back. I remember being on some of those lines, as a parent. Sometimes I’m sad about losing retail stores but I have to tell you…shopping on Amazon is lots of fun, too..;)

  16. -Eugenia says:

    Toys R Us – such a magical store! Technology can be advantageous but too much of the virtual world is boring.

  17. Though it sounds crazy, standing in line waiting for the hottest toy for my kids was part of the holiday or birthday fun. I’ll miss that twisted tradition. 🙂

  18. I didn’t realise that Toys R Us had filed for bankruptcy although I have noticed that a lot of toy stores are closing. It is cheaper to buy these products on line. This is also the case for books. It is a pity though. Another thing that is being taken over by the cyber world.

  19. markbialczak says:

    I’d still rather shop in a store, live and in person, than online. Plan a little and you can avoid the Big Rush days. I guess I believe this because I’m an old dude, Van.

  20. prior.. says:

    wonderful and was just thinking of Teddy Ruxpin for some reason – think that last name was in a history text and I wondered…
    and don’t forget that families will be waiting for the delivery….
    so there will be something booming for drivers who get the goods to us – and did you hear that amazon will now possibly have entry access – guess they are experimenting – the driver can open the door (with bought items allowing access) and leave package inside

    • Yes, I did know about the new Amazon service. Not sure I’d ever sign up for that one, Y. It seems like so much could go wrong there. But that doorstep theft is an issue for those frequent customers. Thanks.

      • prior.. says:

        Yes – I’m not into the allowing entry either – maybe having a lock box somewhere on side of property might work for folks who get stuff non stop (and um – we have a few neighbors who get so much stuff delivered – it really is increasing – and I did it know theft was as big a problem as it is)

  21. dweezer19 says:

    While I have never been a black Friday or crunch sales shopper, I used to love Christmas shopping, especially for the children. But as crazy as human beings have become I have lost most of my enthusiasm. I do online shopping much of the time also because shipping via regular mail has gotten ridiculou as well. But I don’t stay up all night waiting for Amazon Prime to yank its latest carrot out from under my nose so my little ones can have every single thing and more that they might want. There are multiple things wrong with that scenario, as Roland of Gilead would say, “The world has moved on Jake.”

  22. This post brought a big smile to my face. I remember the days and the places well. As a native New Yorker, this was my past.

  23. That’s right. It’ll be interesting to see how long Barnes n’ Noble holds out. They were smart to expand the sense of the cafe and allow people to just hang out and read as at a library. I think the fact that the chain has survived this long shows a great many people still want that connection with actual pages under their hands, the physical space of books.

    That is crazy that Gap stays open like that. Commercialism gone through the roof.

  24. We still have toy r us here in Canada 🤓☺️

  25. dgkaye says:

    Very sad news indeed. Ours are closing in Canada, I didn’t know it was North America wide :(. I don’t understand. It’s not as though there’s even a competitor (here anyway). At least keep the online store? 😦

  26. Wow I remember the cabbage patch era so well. On line shopping is taking over

  27. Noel Hartem says:

    great post. Down here in country area, big stores like that are closing up shop also. We just lost another JC Penny and K Mart plus some others. It is change that happens every so often ….I remember woolworths and eating a sandwich at their counter…that’s been gone a while.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s