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Collectible Kids
An Adult Guide to Children's Science Fiction Collectibles
Strange New Worlds  Issue 11 - December 1993

Passing on the Ideals of Your Hobby to Your Children

What do we want from the kids in our lives? Usually, we want quiet.

When I was pregnant, I said I would accept anything healthy, but please, don’t let it grow up to be a movie critic. Being a realist I figured that all of the cutting edge things I was into would look old-fogeyish to my daughter Caitlin. "Oh, Mom, you’re not going to go to another LARP are you? You’re embarrassing me!"
[Editor’s note: LARP is an acronym for Live Action Role-Playing games.]

Maybe she won’t like role-playing games, science fiction, conventions, or my friends who wear heavy eyeliner. Maybe she will treat us the way offspring of the Flower children treat them. Maybe she will grow up to be an accountant — at least she’ll be employed.

What is a realistic science fiction fan to do? If you cannot pass on your love of SF, you can at least pass on the ideals that your hobbies stand for.

If your kids don’t like conventions, don’t take them. If, as a visiting relative, you want to make an impact, take them to a museum. Planetariums and laser shows make an amazing impression on just about every kid. I find it shocking that many kids never set foot in a museum without being on a class trip. Science is great all on its own. Places like the Museums of Natural History and Franklin Institute prove it.

My mother took me to art museums as a kid, a young kid. I cannot tell you much about art history (I’m terrible with names and dates) but today I truly appreciate good art. Not the way my mother does, but enough of the value was passed down. Plus, I learned the proper behavior in libraries and museums, a valuable social skill!

Little Tikes Microscope Science Set

The only toy on the market that actively encourages the preschool set to become involved in real science is Little Tikes Company’s Microscope Science Set. The set contains a toddler-proof ten power microscope, three specimen slides with seven samples each, a beaker, test tube, tweezers, and a pretend Bunsen burner. The set is easy to store and is self-contained. It was great in both directed and free play. Kids pretended to be mad scientists and took a great deal of interest finding things around the house to look at in the Make-Your-Own-Slide. (Onion skin is the coolest!) At under $40.00 this is a great investment, and it’s fun, too! Plus, you get to hear your child tell people she wants to be a marine biologist when she grows up.

Little Tikes recommends the set for ages three to seven, but it play-tested well with our groups up to age ten. Older and younger siblings will play together with it. Like all Little Tikes toys, they built it to withstand nuclear holocaust and kindergartners. It is available in toy stores and Childcraft catalogs.
(Shop for children's microscopes)

Disney’s Sound and Story Theater

Most of us are media buffs, as evidenced by the things we talk about in Strange New Worlds. How many of us realize that our kids are already involved in the love of media collecting? I thought I gave birth to a daughter, what I really have is a marketing branch of Disney products. Kids will retain a lifelong fondness for their movies and toys, much as we did. Many toys they play with today are already marketed as collectibles.

Disney Audio Entertainment’s Sound and Story Theater includes an audio tape, two collectible figures, and pop-up books that open to become a circular stage displaying four movie scenes. Our groups play-tested the Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and Snow White sets. The only downside I saw was an absence of dwarf figures; the dwarves were just a heavy paper cutout. But you can always hop down to the Disney Store and buy extra figures. The kids played with the Sound and Story Theater for an average of two hours at a time.

At Grandma’s house we put a Walkman on Caitlin to avoid hearing the Snow White tape for the sixth time in succession. The audiotapes relate the movie plots; the kids can use the figures to act out the stories along with the tapes. Without the tapes kids still engaged easily in free play. The Sound and Story Theater sets are not just fantastic gifts, they are gorgeous.

Disney does not market these toys as collectibles. But I’ll bet my eyeteeth that the little ones will be collecting them when they hit thirty. Sets sell for $16.00 to $22.00. Remember, this is a paper product; it will naturally show wear as it is used. Do not hover over your child to keep the toy in mint condition. If you are interested in maintaining the condition of the toy, buy another and keep it sealed.

Aliens Action Figures

In our rush to share the things we love with our children, we sometimes make inappropriate choices, such as giving an Aliens action figure to a toddler. Many people swear that taking their toddlers to Road Warrior had no ill effects on them. But I have noticed that younger children, under the age of seven, who are exposed to horror films and Scarface lose something childlike. I found it very disconcerting that a six-year-old was unimpressed by Jurassic Park because "there wasn’t that much blood and only one arm got ripped off."

Do not be fooled into thinking children are unable to differentiate between real and make-believe. For them, the line between reality and fantasy is quite clear. Many studies show that after viewing violent news programs, children play as normal. Real life violence is terrible. Children know it is wrong; grown-ups react to it with shock, horror, sadness, or disapproval. Movies, however, are grown-ups playing. After violent movies, children’s play becomes violent. The message to them is that all of the actions of entertainment are okay, because that is what the grown-ups are pretending.

The only kids I have met that are truly all right after viewing scary or violent entertainment are actor’s children. These children know that the people on screen are actors like Mommy or Daddy, and acting is a job. These children have seen their parents transform into someone else and return as themselves. Perhaps this helps them make a crucial separation between playing and entertainment. I am not sure.

I do know that despite their advertising, Kenner’s Aliens Action Figures are not for young children. Besides, kids tell me they are not even that much fun to play with. These toys are for adult collectors, maybe for the over thirteen set that still plays with action figures. It is irresponsible for us to get children the promotional tools of a movie that most of us would not let our young children see. If an adult has nightmares for a week after seeing Alien, then it is not cute or avant garde, or counter-culture to let a grade schooler see it. I doubt seeing a horror film will do permanent damage, but I would rather have children identify real dangers of the world than foster false fears.

You want to raise a worldly, science fiction savvy kid? Sign them up for a self defense class. Caitlin starts next year.


This month’s tip:
Help your children organize and save those fast food toys. Sealable storage bags work well for storing small items, as mentioned in last issue. l

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Collectible Kids Column:
About Educational Toys and Collectables that are Fun to Play With!

Articles written by Adrienne Reynolds:

bulletPassing on your Science Fiction ideals to your children
bulletChildren's Dollhouses - Playsets for Boys and Girls
bulletScience Fiction the Kids are Watching
bulletGirl Toys That Might Not Make You Gag
bulletPremiere column: An Adult's Guide to Children's Toys and Collectables

ABOUT COLLECTIBLE KIDS: The Collectible Kids column ran in Strange New Worlds in the early 1990s. It reviewed and recommended children's products that encourage imagination, creativity, a love of learning, a sense of history, and a belief in the future. Plus, any toys listed as "recommended-to-buy" should also be just plain fun to play with. Products were play-tested by actual children. Testing was performed with three different child groups: 1) Coed, ages four through eight, 2) Female, ages eight through fourteen, and 3) Male ages eight through fourteen. Depending upon the toy, a fourth group may be used: Coed, ages eight through fourteen. Following the play-testing, all toys were donated to charity.

ABOUT ADRIENNE REYNOLS: Adrienne Reynolds is the creator and editor-in-chief of "Gateways Past, Future . . . Sideways," a quarterly magazine of character-based stories with a sense of the unexpected. A writing instructor, Ms. Reynolds ran the Fantek Writer’s group.

In this issue:
We don't get no respect
History of Comics Industry
Elfquest, Indy Success Story
The Comics / SF Connection
Star Trek Comics
Comics by Star Trek Actors
Displaying your collectibles
Star Wars Models
Kids and the Fan Parent
Reviews : Alien Nation books
Review: History of SF Comics

More back issues:
SNW Issue 14
SNW Issue 13
SNW Issue 12
SNW Issue 11
SNW Issue 10
SNW Issue 09
SNW Issue 08
SNW Issue 04


Issue 11 ã 1993 by Strange New Worlds. No portion of this publication may be reproduced without prior express written consent of the Publisher. All rights reserved. All materials are believed accurate, but we cannot assume responsibility for their accuracy or application. We do not endorse any products or services advertised in this publication.

STAR TREK TM & ã Paramount Pictures.

STAR WARS is a registered trademark of LucasFilms, Ltd. (LFL)


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