Friday, May 30, 2008

Red Baron Hotwheels and Accessories

I've been pondering what I posted last week and I'm not sure I'm comfortable with my conclusion. I wrote:
Maybe that's what we should do with all the cool stuff we have in special collections -- create the containers for the toys and allow our players to spill the stuff out on the floor and let them dream new things into existence.
Its the "creating containers" part of that post that's still bugging me -- what's the difference between creating a container and building a tree-house? Not much. Its creepy. So I need a different image.

But I kind of like the toy theme (special collection items as toys), so let me play around a bit. Lynne Thomas wrote in comment to my last post:
At least we have the old, cool materials to entice them . . . but I wonder if that comes across as creepy? Where is the line between friendly and creepy?
Good question and it reminds me of something related. Not to mix the toy image with television, but . . . are members of the Addams Family friendly or creepy? Remember the lyrics to the opening song?

They're creepy and they're kooky,
Mysterious and spooky,
They're all together ooky,
The Addams Family.

Their house is a museum
Where people come to see 'em
They really are a scream
The Addams Family.


So get a witches shawl on
A broomstick you can crawl on
We're gonna pay a call on
The Addams Family.

How about the Munsters? (Both shows debuted within a week of each other, in 1964, according to IMDB.)

Maybe the image I'm thinking of is more along the lines of an accessory. (Not the kind of accessory that Sid Phillips, that nasty kid next door, had in mind in "Toy Story" -- or maybe so -- its an interesting cross-over with Pugsley Addams (or Uncle Fester) -- but I digress. At the same time, note this little bit of trivia from the IMDB site: "Sid Phillips is said to be inspired by a former Pixar employee of the same last name who was known to disassemble toys and use the parts to build bizarre creations." Isn't that what we do with mash-ups? But back to the toys for a moment.

When my brother and I were kids we collected Hot Wheels cars. Now, Hot Wheels cars begged to be accessorized. First we had the cars (which we ran down old carpet tubes or across the floor). But then we needed to buy the special track for the cars. And the clamp and starting gate to attach the track to a table or chair (for the necessary height so that gravity could power the car down the track). And then there were the special curves that attached to the track. And then there were the double curves so you can run the cars in an oval or figure-eight. But to do that you needed something called a "supercharger" because once you closed the system, i.e. didn't have a long length of track to just run out on using gravity, you needed some way to keep the car running around and around the closed loop of track. And of course, you needed somewhere to store your cars. The accessorizing from Mattel went on and on (and on; they learned a lot from Barbie).

Anyway, to get us back to the point, maybe what we're about is accessorizing our special collections and rarities. We're expanding the field of play, or allowing our "toys" to do more than they were maybe initially designed for. We're not building new containers. We're not creeping people out with our treehouses. We're just adding tracks and curves and superchargers so we (and our players) can have more fun. We're just taking all our cool stuff "to infinity, and beyond."

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