Monday, November 28, 2011

Mills Fleet Farm 2011 Toy Catalog!

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Believe it or not the 2011 Christmas Countdown is not as random as it may seem. A lot of the times there is some sort of meaning as to why I write about the things I... write... about.

Let me start over again. It is a universal holiday tradition amongst all the children of the world to make a Christmas List to give to there parents. And umm... blahh this isn't coming out right either.

Basically what I am getting at here is every kid gives there parents a list of shit that they want for Christmas. Working under the theory that if mom or dad go out and shop blindly you'll end up with a bunch of retarded junk that ends up on next summers garage sale. Nobody wants that. So you make a list of everything you want in hopes that at least one or two of the items end up under your tree. At the very least it should give them a general understanding that no you do not want the train set and yes you would rather have the replica Castle Grayskull fortress for your He-Man figures.

I don't really know how kids do these here in 2011, I would imagine the little bastards just create an Amazon wishlist. Back in my day, everything was hand written. I would keep a notebook beside me while watching TV and anytime a cool toy commercial would come on it would get added to The List. This was a great way to get things wrote down but also a fairly difficult task. You didn't always have your notebook. And if you did, TV commercials are short and you could easily miss the name of a product. This is why I and every other kid from my generation would wait for those seasonal toy catalogs to come in the mail. That is were the good stuff was at!

Mail, in and upon itself this an awesome yet completely foreign concept. We didn't really know why it came or where it came from. Some days it arrived and our parents hated it yet others they would sit around wanting it to come. Why? It defies all logic to an eight year old. All that we really understood is that we never got any. If we were lucky sometimes your parents would give us a piece they defined as "junk". Junk my ass! This stuff was fantastic. And even better than the occasional piece of hand-me-down junk mail was the catalogs. Especially the toy catalogs.

In the pre-internet days of my youth, other than television commercials this was the only way you seen what cool items were on the market. Catalogs provided visual aids that you could look at for extended amounts of time, text that you could ponder at over and over again. You could really make up your mind with a catalog. My Christmas Liststststststs had plenty of written items and carefully selected catalog selections that I cut out and taped onto the page. Even as a kid, I understood the power of photographs. Today we are going to take a look at ten of the best items from the 2011 Mills Fleet Farm Catalog! Keeping in mind that these are not ten items that I personally would want, but what I think are the ten best toys of the bunch. These are the ones that are undoubtedly making some kids List someplace in the world! That is if kids still make hand written lists. I've already over-used that word and we are just making it past the introduction.

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Doctor Dreadful Zombie Drink Lab! If memory serves me correctly there is an entire line of Doctor Dreadful products that involve making gross out food or drink items. I don't remember precisely when this stuff first hit the market but I do remember it being sort of a "thing" around 1994 or 1995. Doctor Dreadful Zombie Drink Lab is one of those products that kids really want without even fully understanding what it is. All that we see is some awesome looking zombie head with an exposed brain and a bunch of surgical equipment. It's not so much a matter of what it does but a matter of what it could do. Doctor Dreadful would make a great center piece for Scare Glow and Count Don's evil fortress and would give them all something to argue about when not staging full frontal assaults on the "good guy" action figures.

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Smithsonian Kits! Whenever I go to Wal-Mart or Target I always make trips through the toy isles. These days you never know when some throwback TMNT or He-Man figure will be released. Plus I like to check out what all the hot new  items are for this year and laugh in comparison as to how crappy those Ben 10 toys look in comparison to the Transformers or Ninja Turtles of my youth. The main toy isles are always fun to check out but not to be underestimated is the "science isle". Usually about three spots away from the main toy area, the science isle is filled with all sorts of awesome kits that I am totally jealous of. We never had anything like this when I was growing up. Oh sure, you could snag the occasional Sea Monkey kit or Pet Rock terrarium but beyond that not much existed. Today these Smithsonian Kits range from a Giant Volcano to Crystal Growing and even an excavation kit whose end results are  Tyrannosaurus Rex bones which you ultimately get to assemble into a mini model. I love stuff like this. Its educational but only sort of technically. When your growing crystals or making a replica volcano on your bedroom floor, learning is basically secondary. These kits are great fun and I would not be surprised if I end up writing about them in greater detail sometime in the near future.

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SpyNet Night Vision Infrared Stealth Binoculars! I love the title of this product. Love the way it jams about every awesome "spy" word you could possibly think of into one gigantic run on product description. They are not just night vision goggles, they are night vision infrared stealth binoculars. Never mind the fact that they are $39.89 and probably consist of a cheap pair of binoculars with a flashlight mounted to the top of them. None of that matters. When your eight years old, these fall into the must have category of your list! Your mind will run wild with thoughts of being a James Bond super spy, with the ability to see infrared images just like The Predator. Of course they work nothing like the way they are described and you'll only end up using them twice before they end up at the bottom on a toy box. Destined to be forgotten and unused. But for a very brief moment on Christmas morning SpyNet Night Vision Infrared Stealth Binoculars are one of, if not the coolest things you will open.

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Foam Dart Guns! What impressed me most about this set of guns and the reason why I think most kids would gravitate towards these is because they actually look like functioning guns. In today's overly politically correct environment anything that even remotely resembles something that could be interpreted as a firearm is painted neon orange with bright purple accents. Somehow, these Foam Dart Guns have managed to actually look correct. They are brown where they are supposed to be brown and black in all the correct places. Even at a quick glance the yellow foam darts resemble shotgun shells. They might not be the most powerful foam dart shooters but you'll be guaranteed to at least scare the hell out of the neighbors when your running around the back yard with one of these in each hand. Blindly firing at stray cats and homeless folk alike.

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Nerf Air Blasters! Of course on the complete opposite side of the spectrum we have an entire page of Nerf Air Blasters. While the Foam Dart Guns may more closely resemble the real deal... deep down we all know which item is going to be the more fun of the two. Nothing beats a Nerf gun. Here we have an entire page of your typical Nerf items, its tough to pick a favorite of the bunch but I am going to go with the Turbo 12 Dart Gun. Remembering from experience here most Nerf wars came down to whoever had the most darts and whoever could fire the most without reloading. This is not to discredit the ever illusive Nerf gun that fired those awful round yellow balls of death. Those things hurt like hell and a misplaced indoors shot could easily take out a flower pot or glass vase, sending it crashing to the floor. I can remember a period of time where everyone had Nerf Guns and every Christmas it seemed like Nerf released a newer, better model. It sort of seems like the Nerf market has peaked because I no longer see the gigantic sections dedicated to them in the stores. Seeing them here in this catalog brings back a whole flood of awesome memories, running around as a child shooting at things with my Nerf Gun until it was inevitably taken away by some adult.

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Light Strike Targets, Guns, and Vests! When you reach a certain age, generally around eleven or twelve all your older toys start to feel dated and no longer interest you. No longer wanting to stage massive frontal wars with your mix of Ninja Turtle, He-Man, Transfomer and the sporadic G.I. Joe figure it becomes time to move on to more interactive type things. Unfortunately for today's generation of kids that means begging there parents for an X-Box 360 and the latest version of Call of Duty. Back in my day, this was not the case. We didn't have online multiplayer or X-Box Live. What we had was much, much better. When not shooting ourselves with hard rubber yellow Nerf Balls we had Laser Tag setups such as these Light Strike toys! There was nothing better than spending a warm summer evening outside with a group of five or six of your closest friends, running around the back yard playing a game of Laser Tag. It was great exercise and loads of fun. We used to stay out as late as possible playing rounds of Laser Tag. I can even remember spending entire afternoons modifying our vests and guns in order to make the game more fun and challenging. The vets we all had would beep once every minute or so making it impossible to sneak up on someone from behind and our guns all had flashing lights on the side of them that would flash periodically as well. We spent about a week straight going all Tony Stark on our equipment, taking it apart and carefully cutting off speakers and cutting wires that ran extra lights so that we could have the ultimate Laser Tag experience.

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Creepy Crawlers Bug Maker! I actually had a version of this exact same thing many years ago. Although I am pretty sure mine was apart of the Doctor Dreadful line from up earlier in this post. What we have here seems to be some sort of generic bug maker kit. The just of this item is that you have two or three metal molds and a couple different colors to chose from. You put the color in the mold and via some form of black magic out pops a plastic spider or something. The end result here is not important what is important is the process. Your making fake plastic spiders! Whats not to love about that? Creepy Crawlers made for cool little cheap toys that you could bring to school and show off to all your friends. "You see this half purple and half orange spider? Yea, I made it." But if your teacher ever caught you playing with one and took it from you, no big deal... you could make four hundred more when you got home later in the day. Of course inevitability states that at some point your going to run out of the stuff needed to make the fake plastic bugs and will never get any refill cartridges, thus making the entire kit worthless at that point. But by then chances are you'll be bored with it and it won't really matter much anyhow.

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Ouija Board! I meant to write about the Ouija Board back during the 2011 Halloween Countdown and as a matter of fact still have about half a post saved under my unpublished drafts. I never got around to finishing it because some other article always seemed to pop in front of it that seemed more important at the time. So while we will save the nitty gritty details of the Ouija Board for Halloween 2012, I will say that as a kid this would have been impossible to resist. If you were lucky enough to even know what one was, it was probably because you had seen it in some film or overheard your parents talking about some night long ago that they used one. No kid ever really understood what one was for but it scared the shit out of us all the same. So clearly, when the opportunity presents itself to ask for one for Christmas it turns into one that is impossible to pass.

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Expensive Video Game Systems! When making a Christmas List every child sort of has a build in scale of how likely it is they will receive certain items. Even if you don't fully understand the concept of money, chances are you have already had enough experiences with birthday parties and prior Christmas events to know that certain things probably aren't going to happen. You could fill your entire list full of these things but you'd only be setting yourself up for disappointment later on when you receive one or none of those items. It's better to sprinkle them periodically through a list of slightly cheaper, secondary suggestions. So pick wisely, do you want the Kinect or the Nintendo 3DS. An X-Box or a Playstation? You only get to chose one so you had better pick wisely!


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GI Joe, Transformers, or Star Ways Action Figures! Rounding out our 10th and final item of the evening are these three classic toy lines. Transformers, Star Wars, and GI Joe figures never truly go out of style. Some decades they might not be as popular as others, but each of these three have managed to stand the test of time. They are tired but true toys that while you might not ask for specifically, I can think of very few children who would scuff at the opportunity to own an Optimus Prime or Boba Fett toy. Especially unwrapping one on Christmas morning, where everything seems extra special.

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Bonus Items! It shouldn't really surprise anyone that I collected multiple Christmas Catalogs before writing this article. I picked the one that I felt had the most variety and interesting items. The others, while good in there own respective ways, didn't have a whole lot of material in them. With the exception of this cheap Dollar General catalog that I picked up. Everything was great in that major bargain bin sense. I really wanted to write about everything in that catalog but I seeing as how I have already slacked off more than I wanted to in the month of November, it means I've really got to stack articles in December if I want to cover everything that I have currently laying around.

But this quick little section I thought was just to good to pass up. Ignore the tattoos and the doll down in the bottom right hand corner, we are not here to talk about those. Our points of interest today are the Generic Dinosaurs and Niteglow Critters! I love each of these items but its the Generic Dinosaurs that I find the most interesting. I don't know what it is about these things but they are staple of every Dollar Store across the country this time of year. Nobody ever asks for them, nobody ever really wants them, yet when you get them... you always end up finding some stupid use for them. Generic Dinosaurs always somehow end up being the one thing that your other more important action figures ride around on. Optimus Prime can transform into a Semi but how is Leonardo supposed to keep up with him on long ventures across the house? Easy. Leonardo rides a generic dinosaur. Kinda sounds like the name of a crappy children's novel doesn't it?

Niteglow Critters are another one of those cheap items that nobody ever asks for but if your lucky, you end up owning a bag. They are basically a sack full of brightly colored insects that glow in the dark. Exactly the kind of things that can be used to decorate your evil action figures fortress. My leader figures (such as Dracula Donatello) would always send out minions such as Niteglow Critters to attack the good guys first and then slowly amp up the attack waves to include stronger, more powerful figures.

My point here is that both of these items are things that you never really have the foresight to request. But once you own them, you end up finding a bunch of different ways to use them. Actually, chances are you'll end up having more fun with thing like Generic Dinosaurs and Niteglow Critters than you ever will with some of the more expensive items listed up above!

I hope you guys have enjoyed this quick look at the Mills Fleet Farm 2011 Toy Catalog. Now that December is here, I feel like we can really dive deep into some of the seasonal items that I have lined up for the website. I didn't get a chance to do anything for Thanksgiving this year, but I plan on making it up with some of the bigger articles that I have in store for the moth of December!

4 comments:

  1. Cat the Vampire SlayerDecember 18, 2011 at 11:41 PM

    i was not, under any circumstances, allowed to want or own a ouija board. My grandfather was a spirit medium (like John Edward, but you know, real) and it was a big no no in our house.

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  2. Ohhh... I am actually very interested in hearing what everyone has to say about Ouija Boards. I had planned to write an article about them during the 2011 Halloween Countdown but I ended up running out of time, so I will probably cover that one in 2012. I've had lots of experiences with them personally but nothing ever really all that strange.

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