Book Review: Toy Wars by G. Wayne Miller

G.I. JOE AND BARBIE FIGHT IT OUT

I love a good read. But I realize, after recommending many books to friends, that not everyone has the same taste in literature. My taste is so varied that I can’t always be assured of a good response when I gush about my latest greatest read!

This book however, printed in 1998, should appeal to a fairly wide cross-section of readers. It’s a historical account of two large U.S. companies. It’s a tale of family tragedy and triumph. It’s an educational thesis on corporate America and the share holder effect. Ultimately, one could say it’s a basic story of good versus evil. So, it should appeal to a few different types of people!

Hasbro (the main company followed in this book) and its rival Mattel rise from small family companies to huge stock-driven toy giants, with both good and bad results. They gobble up just about every other main player in the toy and children’s entertainment markets with only one goal: To become the single biggest, if not the only, toy company on earth!

Some books like this, with such subject matter, are dry and hard to get through. But G. Wayne Miller manages to make it a page-turner by keeping the focus as much on the families who own the companies as he does on the companies themselves, with all of the toy development, successes and failures, brought on by a fickle group of consumers, the children of the world.

And my favorite part of this read was learning just how many of my childhood toys these two companies own the rights too! Here is a basic breakdown of the Hasbro line:

Hasbro Gaming

  • Monopoly
  • Twister
  • Scrabble
  • Yahtzee
  • Clue
  • All Hasbro Gaming

Girls

  • Nerf Rebelle
  • My Little Pony
  • My Little Pony Equestria Girls
  • Littlest Pet Shop
  • Furby
  • All Girl Brands

Boys

  • Nerf
  • Beyblade
  • Star Wars
  • B-Daman
  • Transformers
  • Mr. Potato Head
  • G. I. Joe

Preschool

  • Play-Doh
  • Playskool
  • Furreal Friends
  • Baby Alive
  • Elefun and Friends

Mattel also has many brands under its name. Both companies have bought up various companies to own beloved properties. Below is a partial list of Mattel’s line of products:

Barbie, Hotwheels, Monster and Ever After High, WWE, Disney, and too many more to list here. Please click the links to the official sites for more information and product lines.

Ever heard of any of these toys? Sure you have! But if you want to hear the stories behind their creation and marketing, you need to read this book. And again, you’ll be surprised at just how many of your childhood favorites came directly from these two bitter rivals.

I’d give this book a 4.5 stars out of 5. A must-read for any true toy fan or collector!

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving – Where does Your Heart Reside?

Thanksgiving

My heart lies with Cindy and Sophie this Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!  I hope that you all have a wonderful day — for those of you that have to work, my thoughts go out to you specifically, and hope that you have time to celebrate being with your family before your shift starts.

Thanksgiving is, after all, about family, at least it is in my mind.  It’s about remembering what you are thankful for, and for remembering those memories you have from days gone by and creating new memories as well.  That’s why I posed the title of my post the way I did — where does your heart reside on this Thanksgiving day?

Does it reside with your loved ones, thinking about those that you are with, and those that you aren’t, irregardless of whether you are seeing them or not?  Or is your heart all “pitter-patter” over the thought of getting out on Thanksgiving day and shopping?

Is your heart turning towards Christmas, and remembering what the season is really, truly, all about, or is your heart yearning for the latest gadget or game, jewel, or something else that is tickling your fancy?

Is your heart longing for times gone by, for people no longer here, for memories that live on in your heart and soul, for tears shed for those gone, or is Thanksgiving just another day on the calendar for you?

Thanksgiving

Sophie reading to her Poppy on Thanksgiving Day, 2008.

Does your heart remember the memories of Thanksgiving Days that are in the rear view mirror?  I was in the grocery store with my wife the other night; we were buying the things we’re going to need for our dinner on Thursday.  This year, it’s only going to be the three of us, Cindy, Sophie and myself.  Cindy has to work on Friday and Saturday, and I have to work on Sunday, so any hope of going anywhere for the weekend is out the window.

So here we are in the grocery story, and all of a sudden, I was struck with remembering the time when my Grandpa was at our house, and on Thanksgiving morning, he and Sophie were reading together.  Mind you, my Grandpa’s eyesight by this time had gotten pretty bad, and he needed a magnifying glass to read the words, so Sophie (she was seven in this picture) was reading the story to him.

Just thinking about it, I was struck by how much I missed my Grandpa and Grandma.  They are both in Heaven now, and have no cares, and for the most part I’m good with the memories.  But that day, in the grocery store, it was all I could do to keep from crying in the Produce Aisle.

I’ve started playing Christmas Carols in the car.  I do this before Thanksgiving not because I’m bypassing Thanksgiving, but rather because the Thanksgiving holiday is the start of the most wonderful time of the year for me — the Advent and Christmas season.  It has been a hard year for many of us, so my thought was that I would start the season early by listening to the music I love to hear during this time of year.

Today’s selection of music was the story “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”, the wonderful tale by Dr. Seuss about a grinch who thinks that taking all of the things from the Who’s will result in no Christmas.  I’m sure you all know the story, and you know that at the end, despite the fact that all of their possessions have been taken, the Who’s still gather around and sing songs celebrating Christmas.  It was at this moment in the story that the Grinch learned something very important:

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought… doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more!

My wish for this Thanksgiving is simple.  My wish is that the Macy’s, the Belk’s, all of the stores that think they need to open on Thanksgiving Day, and deprive so many people of time with their families…my wish is that they would be like the Grinch, who saw his heart grow three sizes that day, and that they would change their minds and not open on Thanksgiving.  I know that this is a pipe dream, that it isn’t going to happen unless we all stay home, and maybe not even then.  But I’m going to wish for it, I’m going to pray for it, and I’m going to hope for it, and if it doesn’t happen this year, than maybe it will in the years to come.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  May the day see you celebrate the way that you choose, that you be near those you love, whether they be family or not, that you be able to enjoy the day the way it is meant to be enjoyed — by remembering all that you are thankful for, and being with those you love.  Try to remember that, at the end of the day, all we are left with are those memories, the things that stick with us when others are gone.  Create the memories today that you’ll want to remember tomorrow, and cherish those memories, because they are precious and worth more than any other sale could be.

Your Favorite Magic Kingdom Attraction

30 Things To Do At Disney World: Peter Pan's Flight

Coming in 1st Place, with 91 votes, Peter Pan’s Flight!

 

A few weeks back, I did a series of informal polls; one about your favorite Magic Kingdom Mountain, one about your favorite Magic Kingdom show, and lastly, one about your favorite Magic Kingdom attraction!

I’ve got to tell you, this one wasn’t even close!  Coming in with 91 likes, comments, and shares was Peter Pan’s Flight!  Some of the great comments about this attraction included the following:

Wrote my friend Donna Kay Disney, “It’s our favorite ride!! We always ride it multiple times.”

Added Stephanie, “Peter Pan’s Flight is always our first ride of the day…a family favorite!!”

Barbie wrote,“This ride has been a favorite for a long time but seeing my small grandchildren’s look of wonder on their little faces made it even more a favorite !!!!”

And the comments went on and on and on!  Thanks everyone for contributing to the post!

Pirates of the Caribbean

With 40 votes, Pirates came in a distant 2nd!

Coming in second place was Pirates of the Caribbean.  I thought the voting would be closer, but since this is a VERY unscientific poll, take the results with a grain of salt!  From a personal perspective, I like Pirates better because it is a great ride that almost never has a long wait, unlike Peter Pan; so I can ride it multiple times versus only once with Peter Pan.  Not that I dislike Peter Pan’s Flight — because I love it — but I really like the speed with which I can ride Pirates!

Coming in third, the Haunted Mansion, with just 28 votes.

Coming in third, the Haunted Mansion, with just 28 votes.

Of the three attractions I listed here, I guess I would put the Haunted Mansion in 3rd place.  I like the Haunted Mansion, and we ride it at least once every time we go to the Magic Kingdom, but it isn’t the top thing on my list of things to do.

Thank you for participating in our little informal poll!  What do you think about these attractions?  How do you rank them?  Let me know in the comments, and thanks everyone!