Charles Lazarus, the founder of Toys ‘R’ Us, has passed at the age of 94. Founder of the company that convinced many youngsters to find their beloved collectibles and hot toy of the year; to be a Toys ‘R’ Us kid, has died as the remaining US locations announce liquidation sales.
Founding the beloved company in 1948, the 94 year old served as the leading voice in the company until 1998.
As a child who tried to find the complete “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers” set of zords that formed the titular Mega Zord (ala my favorite set, the die-cast Voltron set) in the 90’s, Toys ‘R’ Us was at the forefront of the must have toys in its hey-day.
Sega famously announced the premature sales of their new console, the Sega Saturn, exclusively at select locations that included Toys ‘R’ Us. The console to succeed the Sega Genesis as the new powerhouse home gaming machine, Sega tried to beat the Sony Playstation as the next generation of gaming beyond the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo.
No one needs to remember the Atari Jaguar and Panasonic (and various other hardware producers) 3D0.
Toys ‘R’ Us withdrew support of the Sega Saturn early in its life stage citing lackluster sales. Toys ‘R’ Us also refused to carry heavy stock of the Sega Dreamcast (Sega’s heir apparent of the Sega Saturn, once again trying to blitz the market before their continuing foe, the Sony Playstation 2) the console that lead the online gaming revolution, during the holiday season of its debut.
This anecdote has no bearing on what Toys ‘R’ Us has become in 2018. This anecdote serves nothing, but something I remember prominently at their stores at the time.
My time. My Toys ‘R’ Us time.
Amazon through its third party sales program has now dominated what has become left of the toy industry in general. Aside from buying directly from the makers of the toys (Hasbro and its competitors), Amazon has dominated the third party market for must have toys.
If Amazon is sold out, the market of EBay has dominated the after market sales, much like many other sectors including exclusive gaming items, gaming accounts, 1st issue of toys from respected makers, 1st issue of electronic devices from respected makers, etc.
But one can only solemnly remember the local Toys ‘R’ Us shop, cause it was a wonder to the eyes to see everything you could possibly want in one place.
When you were a child.
Light sabers? The latest Barbie dolls? Dodge balls? Bicycles to ride throughout the store? Transformers? Lego sets to build mindlessly for hours?
The Cabbage Patch Kids and Furbies? If you wanted them in their hey-day, all paths led to Toys ‘R’ Us.
Not because they were the only ones to have them. But because you could see and hold (at least the box they were encased in) in your hands.
Online shopping cannot truly replace the experience that shops like Toys ‘R’ Us and FAO Schwartz brought to their true core demographic.
The human child. The ability to see and witness the toys of their dream within their very own eyes. Only to throw the tantrum of a generation within the presence of their own parents. All in pursuit of something they were able to see and experience.
Something that they not only saw, but held the box within their hands. Their precious. Their existence and fandom, at the time, at its epitome.
Who will replace the vacuum of hands on toys for kids of the next American generation?