COLUMN: Toy shopping is a retro minefield by Ann McVea

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Ann McVea
Ann McVea
10 November 2015 4:48PM

FOR the first time in my son’s life, I’m a bit overwhelmed about what to buy him for Christmas.

Or rather to tell Father Christmas he would like (I too have to believe, it makes it easier to convince him).

OK, he’s not yet four (that happens a week before Christmas, for a double December whammy of expense and celebration) but so far Christmasses have been very straightforward. After discussion with my better half we have quickly settled on a pressie based on what we wanted him to have.

So for example we decided last year was time for a proper bike, a big boy’s bike that required a helmet, and had stabilisers that could eventually come off. The boy himself had very little input, and if asked he would no doubt have just said “dinosaurs”. We bought him some of those too.

Fast forward a year and we’re still trying to explain to him how to pedal forwards – he has grasped the backwards thing really well, so every time he “plays on his bike” it’s like watching that Ian Brown video for F.E.A.R.

But 2015 has seen him exposed to more commercial TV than ever before, and he has definite ideas of the kind of things he likes – not all of which I agree with.

If I never have to watch another episode of Paw Patrol again it will be a blessing, and just typing the words has started the theme music going in my head no doubt for the rest of the day. Go on, Google it. Call it my earworm gift to you.

But according to this year’s DreamToys list, which is compiled by the Toy Retailers Association, Paw Patrol is not just on our little man’s list, it’s on everyone else’s too. According to the chairman of the DreamToys panel, we shouldn’t leave it too late to buy Paw Patrol stuff, it is in such demand. Thanks for that extra bit of pressure.

This year also heralds the start of the “pen and toy catalogue” approach to the Christmas list, instigated by my mother who handed him both and told him to put crosses next to the things he would like from Father Christmas.

I hope she also added that the Man in Red will only be choosing a few from the suggestions, which appear to involve lots of blasts from the past.

Lego, which features on the DreamToys list as well as the youngster’s, gets my seal of approval. It seems those little blocks never grow old – even though I could buy a new laptop for the price of some of today’s kits.

Transformers too have never gone away, though the variety is mind-boggling (were there that many to choose from back in the 80s?), and I’m pretty sure I’ll buy the wrong ones.

And who remembers Power Rangers? It seems there’s nothing new under the sun, because the show is now in its 22nd series, and has morphed (see what I did there?) into Power Rangers Dino Charge. I’m not really sure who turns into the dinosaurs – the teens? The bad guys? But somebody does, and guess what? You can buy them.

But one of the star performers on the DreamToys list is never making it through my front door, and thankfully the ads have passed him by. Pie Face is basically Russian roulette with a cream pie, which hits the players in the face. Not happening.

He will of course be happy with whatever he gets, though after a week of birthday and Christmas he still doesn’t understand why he gets nothing on January 1.

And what about mammy? All I want for Christmas? Well, once I’ve made it through the minefield that is getting it right this year, I’ll just be happy if he learns how to ride that bike.

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