EPISODE IV: Tough Toys

I was recently cleaning out my basement and came across some of the toys my daughters had as kids. It got me thinking about the toys I had as a kid. The technology of todays toys sure has advanced since I was a kid but, I wonder if they have really gotten better? My generation did not have these high tech video games or electronics, but the toys we did have were tough. They weren’t rechargeable, they took batteries, large heavy D-cell batteries, which were always sold separately, and you never knew that until you got home. I remember my Dad mumbling under his breath about “f-ing batteries” and “for that F-ing price, batteries should be included .” Dad would do this while getting up to take the batteries out of his black metal police flashlight. This happened every time, whenever I think about it, I can hear his voice……t makes me laugh just a little. I remember having disagreements with friends and cousins, it taught you restraint, because hitting somebody with a toy back then could involve a hospital visit, for the recipient. Our toys had the bility to injure us….even through normal play. These toys had heavy metal moving parts that could crush and pinch fingers. Pointy corners and edges sharper than Flagrant Beard knives. Our toys could truly F you up. The toys made kids tough. We didn’t have these visually beautiful worlds or action packed battlefields created in video games. We were forced to create these worlds in our imagination. We would share our imaginary worlds with friends and playmates, and they would do the same. Attacking imaginary enemy strongholds together, with toy guns, going ‘Rat A Tat Tat”, or gun shaped sticks. Afterward we would hang out in a ramshackle fort built out of abandoned  wood and bent nails.  We would sneak tools out of our father’s garages, internally vowing to bring them back, but always losing them and facing Dad’s wrath. Those old school toys forced you to communicate with each other…. to learn about each other and depend on each other. These concepts have seemed to be lacking for quite some time! Our toys gave back. Our toys gave us friendships and memories. I walk through stores today and toy guns are a pretty rare site. Toy guns have been demonized by the “everyone gets a trophy culture”. Take them toy guns away, they make kids violent! The amazing thing is that my generation grew up with toy guns, and I don’t recall any horrible school shootings from that time period. Sadly, the “toy gun grabbing, easily offended generation” can’t say that. I don’t think it’s the toy guns.  I believe those old school toys helped prepare us for a life of critical thinking and expanded imaginations. It’s those mental tools that we use every day that  help sharpen our situational awareness. Critical thinking is important to knowing what danger looks like and how to avoid those dangers. How to react to those dangers. Imagination is important as it helps us imagine what the dangerous people can think up and to have scenarios in place, in our minds, before the crisis happens. The time to plan for a crisis is before the crisis, not during it! It’s extremely difficult to come up with a workable plan while the crisis is occurring.

My Favorite toy ever, was my Evel Knievel, motorcycle riding, action figure. This action figure was based on an actual American Icon of the seventys, motorcycle stunt sportsman, Evel Knievel. Evel was a living example of the American Spirit. He would do incredible stunts, jumping his Harley Davidson motorcycle over obstacles that were completely insane. Evel Knievel would be dressed head to toe in red, white and blue. He was the Elvis of stunt cycling.  Evel probably crashed more times than he stuck his landings and was rumored to have broken every bone in his body at least once. Evel attempted to jump the Snake River Canyon in 1974. He attempted this jump in a rocket shaped vehicle called a Skycycle X-2, just the name of this thing is cool as F. The Skycycle had an open Indy car style cockpit and was powered by steam. F-ing steam! WTF??  It was like an old west locomotive.! This was a major event and was televised live on the Wide World of Sports. The attempt was not successful, but what I took away from the footage of the Skycycle plummeting into the canyon, and the subsequent retrieval of Evel, was this…..he Skycycle itself had a parachute attached to it, much like a parachute on the back of a funny car. Evel on the other hand wore no parachute at all. What a set of balls! All these X Game weirdos with their dreadlocks, lip rings and skull tatts, probably don’t even know the name Evel Knievel. That’s sad, because without Evel Knievel their sport probably wouldn’t exist. Evel Knievel passed away on November 30th 2007, but he inspired millions of dumb kids like myself, to jump over garbage cans on our Huffy bikes. It was no surprise that a toy was built in honor of one of the toughest dudes ever, but, the toy would have to be tough as well. It did not disappoint. This toy was badass, tough and grizzled. The only motorcycle dude tougher than my Evel Knievel Toy is our own J.D. riding around town on his Harley Trike, Glock on his hip and wearing his biker vest over a Royal Range Tee-Shirt. By the way J.D. if you’re reading this, your rain suit is in.  Action figure Evel Knievel could kick a Hipster’s ass. Understand what I’m saying here. I’m not talking about a Hipster –Action figure. I’m talking about an actual living, coffee-drinking, house dwelling, Hipster. Here’s how the toy worked: you would attach the bendy Evel figure onto the Motorcycle, then hook it up to the revving machine and thenou would then turn the wheel handle as fast as you could. This would rev up the motorcycle motor and it would release from the gear wheel, sending the motorcycle and Evel across the room, at a relatively incredible rate of speed. This amazingly strong, plastic and metal toy would slam off of walls, table legs, siblings and parents, causing damage to everything it hit! Your brother would limp into the kitchen, crying to mom, with a small motorcycle handlebar shaped laceration on his ankle. The toy always suffered zero damage. I sent my Evel off ramps which would send the motorcycle ten feet into the air and watched it crash to the ground. I literally sent this motorcycle with Evel, left hand above his head in victory, off the roof of my house and watched it crash onto the driveway. The toy suffered minor scratches, but worked just fine. Evel Knievel and its motorcycle worked every time on everything, indoors, outdoors, wood floors, carpet, concrete, dirt, gravel, grass, it never stopped working. It was the Glock of toys! As the years went by, I lost track of my Evel Knievel. It was lost to adulthood and time. Time is the ultimate thief. The older I get, the more evident that is. As I write this, I am in another transition period of my life. This week my oldest daughter moved into her own apartment and my youngest daughter turned twenty. They are wonderful, smart, caring and beautiful young women. They get all those traits from their mother. I understand it’s the job of the parent to raise their children to eventually move on and start their own lives, and I’m proud and grateful to God, to have been given the privilege to have been a part of it all. I’m proud of them both. But, I’m still a little sad that they had to grow up. I sometimes wish I could go back in time, even for just a little while, and have my little girls back. I know that’s impossible. I wonder if I got my hands on an old Evel Knievel toy, could I get two adult daughters and a wife, to build a ramp and play with an old action figure with their old man? It’s worth a try, now I need a Hipster to help me get on EBAY.

God bless.

Carl Fuerst-The Fuerst Option
RSO, Trainer, Blogger

The Fuerst Option Safety Suggestion

When in a dark room and using a flashlight, instead of pointing the light out in front of you to search and clear the room, try this trick, point the flashlight beam up to the ceiling. The light will bounce off the ceiling and light up the room like a fifteen watt bulb. Be safe out there.