Tuesday, June 5, 2007

More Than Meets The Eye

It seems like lately, we've been inundated with old ideas redistributed as fresh ones. From Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Masters Of The Universe, My Little Ponies, to Rainbow Brite, the childhood pleasures of the 80's are slowly becoming the childhood wonders of the 00-generation.

I have mixed feelings about this phenomenon. It seems the copies are never as good as the original; have you seen the size of the heads on the new Rainbow Brite Posse? However, I was giddy with excitement at the prospect of going on a date to TMNT: The Movie. (Which, for the record, kicked ass.)

Sometimes, the past being recreated for the present can form an interesting bridge between the generations.

I had lunch with my nephew today. (He's 5). Somewhere in between the grilled cheese sandwiches and endless hours of Nick Jr, he reached across the table to spin around the bottle of his Sierra Mist. I watched as his eyes grew wide.

"Whoa! Transformers!" he exclaimed.

I gave him that Look, the one that says "you're young and cute, but I have no idea what you're talking about", and reached down to see what, in fact, he was talking about. It turns out that Sierra Mist is having a Transformers promotion, and had the words and logo on the side of the bottle.

"Yep, Transformers." I confirmed. "You like Transformers?"

"I LOVE Transformers! You can turn them into ANYTHING you WANT!"
(Well, that's not really the case, but I wasn't going to break his heart with reality)

"Which one's your favorite?" I asked instead. He closed his eyes to think about it for a few seconds.

"Ummmm...ummmmmm...the BIG one!"

"Optimus Prime?"

"YEAH! Him! And you can make them WHATEVER you WANT! There are PLANES, and CARS...and...and...the BIG one!"

I laughed with him for a minute and listened to him describe each Transformer with more passion and excitement that I've discussed anything with lately. And then it hit me.
There is a really good chance that someone had this same conversation with me about 20 years ago. I loved Transformers. I remember when it took forever and a day to put them together, and you really did need an instruction manual to make them transform. I thought they were the best toy ever, and here's my nephew, 20 years later, looking at the same toy with the same amazement.

Right there, in that moment, there was nowhere else I would have rather been. Say what I might about the bastardization of many of our childhood pastimes, the Transformers reincarnation managed to brighten the day of two people; one still a kid, and one who will always be a kid at heart.

Not bad for a plastic and metal plaything.

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