Well, the party’s over. This past Friday, all the remaining Toys R Us stores closed, permanently. Rather than rehash all the tired woulda, coulda, shoulda, I’d just like to talk about what was.
I can thank my grandmother, Ruby Klockau, for getting me addicted to Toys R Us. Way back when I was a little kid, she would often take me out to lunch. We’d usually go to Bishop’s Buffet, then to the local dealerships, and then to Toys R Us, where I got to pick out a model car.
One of the earliest models I remember getting on one of those trips were 1/43 scale Matchbox Models of Yesteryear: a Duesenberg Model J, MG TC and Mercedes 540K. I still have them in a box somewhere. Back then the Toys R Us was model car Valhalla. An entire aisle of model cars: Corgi, Matchbox, Majorette, and the more plebeian Hot Wheels of course. I always preferred Matchbox. Even when I was in first and second grade, I appreciated their detail compared to the more toy-like and cartoonish Hot Wheels. They had another separate aisle full of 1/24 scale model kits too.
Starting in the late ’80s and early ’90s, 1/18 scale models became much more popular, resulting in a separate aisle of the larger models, especially Ertl and Bburago. I bought many of those too. By that time my little sister was taking weekly dance classes, and my mom took her. That left me, my brother and my dad solo for the evening. Many times we’d go to the now-defunct Harold’s on the Rock supper club for fried shrimp. Since the Toys R Us was close by, I usually was able to talk Dad into taking us there after, so I could blow my allowance on toy cars.
Back then, the stores ran the Toys R Us jingle all day over the Muzak. My dad, God bless him, could only take that song for so long. Naturally, I had to inspect every model in the aisle before deciding, and this combined with the goofy song would test my dad’s patience after, say, ten minutes or so. On a couple of occasions he couldn’t take that song any more, and would say, “Pick one NOW and let’s go!” Fortunately they dropped the piped-in song sometime in the mid 1990s.
And now they’re gone, a victim of debt, poor decisions and online shopping. I’ll miss them.