If you're a baby boomer looking for a few moments of
decompression before the Western Show, look no further than More Favorite Toys, a
documentary on Discovery Channel that is sure to transport you to your childhood.
This is a mental vacation to the days of View-Masters and
hula hoops. The hour is chock-full of vintage commercials that are guaranteed to transform
you to your five-year-old self, garbed in pajamas in front of the console TV and waiting
for your parents to awaken on Saturday morning.
When the producers run out of that black-and-white
nostalgia, they manufacture it. Contemporary kids are filmed in vintage clothes, playing
with the classic toys. The stock is doctored to make it look like your home movies (only
properly exposed and in focus).
The snippets of history are a bit of inspiration. Would any
of us think to turn a General Electric industrial accident into the multimillion-dollar
product that is Silly Putty? The conglomerate was trying to develop a substitute for ivory
for the manufacture of billiard balls, and it instead created the "solid
The most charming segment features Lionel trains and one of
their avid collectors, singer-actor Mandy Patinkin. The train manufacturer makes 350
trains and accessories, and the performer looks like he has a majority of them in his
setup. In the midst of his tour, he breaks from the interview, yelling, "A wreck! A
wreck!" with childish glee.
Wham-O rightly gets lots of screen time as the marketer of
two of the most enduring fads -- the hula hoop and the Frisbee. The former seems
all-American, but it was actually stolen from the Aussies; the latter was inspired,
naturally, by a thrown pie tin.
But they don't discuss the most insidious Wham-O toy
of all -- the Super Ball. One bounce, and it was sure to soar into the land of
irretrievable sports gear.
The special is scheduled to air on Discovery Nov. 18 at 10
p.m. and 2 a.m., and Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. A follow-up in the genre, More Favorite Fun Food,
follows Nov. 29.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to suck some
newsprint off a few press releases with my Silly Putty.