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What Kids Want This Holiday Season: A PSX2, Stupid Robot Dog, and the ability to see clearly at night.
Matt - 11/15/00

The Christmas season is just about here, and little kids across the world are busy compiling their lists in the hopes to get those all important toys and gadgets that'll propel them into the stratosphere of popularity at school in January. Making decisions like this is a crucial process - there's so much to consider. First, a kid has to figure out what all his friends are getting. Then, he has to top that. Thirdly, he (or she) needs to figure out the delicate financial balance in asking Santa Claus for a present he knows Daddy can afford.

In my house, it was always pretty simple. Hundred dollar limit. We weren't big on keeping up the Santa tradition...after I hit two, my friend's fat aunt from across the street was pretty easy to recognize even in such an elaborate disguise. I know a lot of kids basically got an entire new inventory of toys from their parents on Christmas, but since I have more siblings than a rabbit locked in a room with...other rabbits...of the same bloodline, the 100 buck limit seemed more than fair. Course, I'd work around that, always aiming for something that cost around 130 bucks claiming that I really wanted it or that I felt really sick or that I really did love my parents. The point is, kids will do what they need to do to get the present of power.

Of course, as we get older, the rules change a bit, and then we start worrying about giving out the best gifts. We even become obsessed with beating everyone out on who's using the best wrapping paper. But while things change for us, we can still live vicariously through the kids. They've still got their wish lists. And while the only thing I father is a bunch of dying plants and some Sea Monkeys (bastards still haven't hatched...update this week) ....I'm the last in a line of seven kids who've sprouted out more little children than uh...rabbits...horny...rabbits. With that, based on my personal experiences fighting with them over the Toys R Us catalogs when they pop up Sunday mornings and courtesy of Amazon.Com's top sellers, here's some of the things kids are looking for this holiday season...

Tekno Robotic Puppy (34.99): Here's a fad no one could've predicted. The robot dog. Some psychic is kicking themselves for choosing reversible shoes as their wildcard fad prediction back in '88. I remember my nephew telling me about this one, and I just shrugged it off the same way I did when he told me he could fly, or that orange Jell-O tastes good. Robot dog, ha! But he wasn't lying, there was a robot dog. Actually, there were several of them...but Tekno leads the way. In theory, a silver puppy who doesn't shit is a cool idea, but you need to realize: these things don't really do anything. You switch them on, they bark, they attempt to walk, and that's about it. So why would a kid want one of these? Clever false advertising.

I refer you back to the infamous Furby craze of a few years back. The hype about those things were tremendous, and it wasn't just because they stole Gizmo's cuteness. The commercials blatantly suggested that Furbies could do anything. They'd learn words, talk to you, the things looked like fucking sentient creatures. You know how bad it was? I went out and bought one of the stupid things. I had myself convinced that I trained it to say my dog's name. Obviously, a Furby couldn't really do anything. It sat there and made noises, but so do phones and air conditioners. And that brings us back to Tekno, the wonder dog from above.

Put yourself into a child's mind. It shouldn't be tough really, chances are good if you read this site some of your greatest wishes are that they'd rerelease the Transformers line and that they'd sell more King Randor t-shirts. Anyway, you're six-years-old, you see kids freaking out on television over a dog machine that can apparently do everything a dog can do, plus dance. You get him for Christmas, open him up, and find that the only thing he can do is shake his legs and send out a computer bark incessantly until you turn him off. You're gonna have a pretty shitty Christmas.

Razor Scooters (99.99): Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably seen every kid in your neighborhood wreaking havoc on these things. The scooter has made a comeback! That's right, after a good long decade of loneliness, every kid wants one of these things. I guess scooters are okay, at least children might actually play with them for more than five minutes.

While Razor Scooters are the popular choice, you just know some devious kid out there is plotting his way into getting a mega scooter with electric horn and lacey handlebar decorations. He'll be the talk of the town, and it'll only cost his parents an extra 5 bucks. 3 if they steal the handlebar crap.

Playstation 2 ($1,000,000.00): There it is...The Holy Grail. If you ask me, Sony doesn't get nearly enough credit in the gaming industry. Don't get me wrong, they're respected, but these fuckers are smart. Look at the first PSX. Even in the face of the Nintendo 64 and even the alleged end-all, be-all Sega Dreamcast, the Playstation remained popular. Now, I'm no gaming expert, but I'd attribute a lot of that to the fact that PSX just goes at it with volume in mind. What's with all this quality control on the other systems? Just make 5,000 least 5 of them will end up being winners. Seriously, if there's anything we've learned from the leaders of evil pro-wrestling factions, there's strength in numbers.

In 25 years or so when my son starts his own nostalgia site, they won't be talking about the N64 or the Dreamcast. They'll be talking about Playstation. The games run the gamut, and now that they've thrown out a new system that boasts more power than GOD HIMSELF, who can stop them? WHO?!

Not even him. Not even Mr. T. This system is already popular enough that toy and electronics store literally have to put a sign outside their doors telling hopeless dreamers that, not only is the PSX2 not in stock, but they have no fucking idea if it ever will be again! You know what else is cool about this thing? You can actually play your old PSX games on it. Buying the new system isn't like kicking yourself in the nuts. And -- it supposedly enhances the graphics! Hey, Nintendo, Sega, take note. Before you start peddling your own snake oils, show me a way to play Christmas Nights on my broken Dreamcast. I'm a Nintendo fan through and through, but I've gotta give Sony credit for taking control of the video game market like this.

Of course, with a retail price of 299.99, even if this thing was in stock, the chances that a kid could convince his mother that its well worth the money is pretty low. And after you get done buying controllers and memory cards, this shit'll cost you...

THIRTEEN. MILLION. Around 400 bucks. If there's kids out there who can convince their parents to shell out 400 dollars on this, they're destined to grow up to become criminal lawyers. Especially since parents know by now that these game systems go down in price almost immediately. Remember, there was a time where the Sega CD system cost over two hundred dollars. Imagine that...people actually paid more money to play Sewer Shark than a lot of weekend getaways to the sun and trash drenched Jersey shore costs.

But, I'm sure it'll be on the kiddies' wish lists this year. Hell, it'll be on mine.

Wild Planet Night Vision Goggles (12.99): Oh. Christ. I'm all for the completely ridiculous, but even I can't deny that this, plain and simply, is stupid. Night vision goggles?! This is definitely one of those presents you should only get if you ask for it. This isn't the type of thing that works well in a surprise scenario. Its just too odd. Really, what's a kid going to actually do with these? Its not like you're going to let him go trekking through the forest at night, with or without shitty green sunglasses. Nope, the only time he'll actually be wearing this thing is when the illumination is at an all-time high, thus completely rendering the gimmick useless!

Kids are often tricked into believing idiotic things are cool. It explains many of the top selling albums of the past few years, it explains Birdie, and it also explains these. Without giving it much thought, a kid might think he'll be a superstar wearing this. Now envision that same kid walking into the middle of a full schoolyard wearing them. He'll be lucky if he makes it out of there without his nose broken, much less the night vision goggles. Here's the rundown...

As you can see, these aren't really night goggles as much as they are ugly sunglasses with tiny flashlights attached to them. Still, some bonus points to Wild Planet for trying, I guess. They've done their job..the kiddies want them, and they're cheap enough...but this isn't the first time weapons of war and stealth have made their way into the stockings of little do-gooders everywhere....

Remember, we had toys like this too. Spy Tech, the only toys that let us keep tabs on who was entering our closets, at what time, and why?! I can symphatize with the poor soul who begs his mommy for a pair of night goggles this Christmas, as I was one of the poor souls who thought Spy Tech toys would work years back. You can argue with me all you want...I'm no mechanic, but I know I can't fuck up turning the on switch. Most of these things didn't work. Then again, they did give us probably our only chance to talk through walkie-talkies shaped like Pepsi bottles, so its not exactly a clear cut case of suck. Its all a matter of opinion.

Pokemon Silver/Gold for Game Boy (): Well, by now you should know my feelings on Pokemon, so I won't gush. But! I've played this game, and its definitely worth getting. As far as the kids go, you might think that really young ones wouldn't be able to comprehend a game that works sort of like an RPG, but my four-year-old nephew just this past weekend instructed me on the importance of adding Dugtrio to my army before challenging a ghost Pokemon. So that shoots all your theories and misgivings straight to Hell.

Of course, in these new silver and gold editions, you have a chance to catch even more Pokemon and force them to beat each other up within an inch of their miserable lives. But the music's cutesy, so its fun for all ages. This game series really breathed new life into the Game Boy, so much so that I'm thinking about giving up my emulator altogether and buying one again. (I used to own the old, bulkier grey one, but managed to break the screen after about a week. Amazingly enough, my Sega Game Gear, various televisions, and one computer monitor all met similar fates.)

I haven't forgotten the females out there...while most of my nieces are old enough to understand the religion that is N'Sync, others are still going for the more common and baste...for them, topping their wish lists this year is an item that looks innocent, but in actuality is one of the most mind-fucked toys ever made...

Barbie Shop With Me Cash Register (34.99-50.00): Look harmless? Its not. First, know that this is one of the season's hottest items - its selling out all over the place and virtually every little girl wants one. But there's something that was overlooked when creating this one: apparently, the people working for Barbie thought this toy was intended for genius college graduates with degrees in brain surgery and a side career as a mechanic. I've seen this thing in action...I'd have less trouble taking apart my computer, putting it back together, taking it apart again, and turning it into a birthday cake. The thing shuts off if you don't follow the precise button pattern in 5 seconds. Now, for me and you, understanding that chain of events might not be all that hard, but to a three year old with an itchy trigger finger, this thing is an enormous cosmic joke.

Put simply, this toy is meant for only for forty-year-olds who really take liberties lying about their age. The fact that a little kid can't get it to work is stressful enough on the little tyke...but factor in this, and you've got some real trouble: everytime you fuck up, Barbie will implore you to 'try again'. Now I know, over the years, you've probably conjured up a nice, sweet voice for Barbie in your mind. Think again. In this representation, Barbie sounds like a crow.

So parents, unless you've got a child prodigy on your hands, you might want to keep your sanity and just buy the girl a fucking pony.

So now, the heat is on. We're in the middle of November. These items are flying off store shelves, sold out on internet outlets...they aren't even steadily available for twice the price on the collector's market. Which kids will be the lucky ones to return to school in January with the royal scepter in hand? Time will tell...but if you've got a little one to get the gifts for, now's the time. Hey, their popularity is at stake.

- Matt

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