Saturday, June 30, 2018

Still a Toys R Us Kid

We've all seen the news: Toys R Us officially closed for business (at least in the states) yesterday, June 29th, 2018.

I think we've all seen the famous picture by now and whoever took this picture lacks a soul. I'm sure they had good intentions, and I know that TRU is planning a comeback, but they knew this was gonna go viral.

This is the one I went to on Thursday, in Carle Place. My attitude since then was like Milhouse right here:

So what was left in that giant store with one day left in business?

Not much, I'm afraid. Literal crap in baskets. This is the only picture I took inside because the rest of the store looked this empty, and also it was too depressing. If anyone wanted the Duck Dynasty game for PS4, the store still had half a dozen copies in what was left of the video game section.

I did, however, not leave the store empty handed.

I don't even know if I actually have this amiibo (not likely), but I liberated it from the store for two bucks and change.

Someone asked me if I walked away with this poster, but I'm sure that some employee already had dibs on it. I'd like this to go to someone who actually worked for the company. If this store had handbaskets with the logo on them, they were long gone, not to mention I wasn't able to haul one of the shopping carts home with me.

My childhood store was this one, in Massapequa.

So many memories in that store. I know I bought my SNES there, among many, many other toys.

The last toy I bought there was this Funko Pop of Sprocket from Fraggle Rock, knowing (correctly) that I wouldn't get a chance to get one once the actual clearance sales started. It sucks knowing that TRU is one less trusted Funko retailer, and that its exclusives (usually the Teen Titans Go line) have either become commons or went off to other companies. Also, yeah, it's stacked with a few of the rarer Pops that I have, be jealous.

But enough of the depressing present. Let's look back at some fond memories, shall we?

Remember Geoffrey Money? Yes kids, before gift cards were the norm, Toys R Us gift certificates came in the form of actual dollar bills. To teach kids how actual money worked, we were given this fake money that was only good at one store to spend at our leisure. Every birthday and Christmas I looked forward to getting cards stuffed with these, and I swore off any relatives that decided to get me something else instead (that weren't already toys or the like, of course). I was seriously bummed when this got phased out, but I know it was for the best. If you lost even one of the bills, there was no getting it back. I wish I saved at least one of them for posterity, though. I can always assume a trip to eBay would indulge me, but I'm afraid to look what the asking price is for one these days.

On that note, Kids R Us used to be a thing, too. I don't have much nostalgia or a lot of fond childhood memories for this place. For those not in the know, this was Toys R Us' foray into kids clothing stores, and were usually situated near other Toys R Us, much like how Babies R Us stores were usually nearby to the mothership.

Because if there's nothing kids love more than toys, it's being forced to shop for clothes with mom! It could really explain why most of them closed down in the late nineties, with the last of them shuttering in 2004. Before empty storefronts were as depressingly common as they are now, my association with dead stores were Kids R Uses that closed twenty years ago and still remain empty to this day. Well, it's not true. Out of the The two I knew of, one stayed vacant for years before Circuit City took it over, and when THAT closed, it stayed empty again until an Aldis moved in about three years back; the other was under a Bally's Fitness and when it closed in the late 90s, stayed empty until the gym finally took it over about a year or two ago. Both were host to Spirit Halloween stores on and off for a few years, but seeing nothing in that space for most of your life really stays with you.

Before Geoffrey became that cartoony giraffe, he used to look like this:

He's got my vote. Geoffrey actually had a number of looks over the years.

The 1988-1999 versions are what I remember the most. I was not a fan of that freaky live-action giraffe. All I remember from that era is this one commercial:

And Geoffrey used to have a family!

In case you're wondering, the wife is Gigi, the son is Geoffrey Jr., and the daughter is Baby Gee. They got phased out over the nineties, but most old stores still had them plastered everywhere well into the last decade. Newer versions of Geoffrey made him a swinging bachelor, the fools.

And who could forget how you bought video games back in the day? You took a slip for whatever you wanted, then brought it over to the window in the corner of the store and then the guy went through that dungeon and brought out your copy of Donkey Kong Country. I was both scared and really intrigued by that little window.  It's a shame that the video game section became open air by the time I could drive myself to these places. You could actually SEE all those games behind the glass case, but it wasn't the same.

And I REALLY miss when aisles looked like this. The 80s/early 90s was a magical time, long before three toy companies owned everything and kids actually BOUGHT toys. It's so stuffed with toys, I love it! It's a shame I can't find any pictures of the old school Transformers section, but it looked exactly like this.

Farewell, Toys R Us. We'll always have the commercials.

The reason why I refused to grow up was I always wanted to remain a Toys R Us kid. I may be growing older, but I'll always be a Toys R Us kid...

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