Monday, July 11, 2011

#0020: Sand Lizards


I was a proud kid of the 90s, and like any other generation, the 90s came equipped with its own arsenal of crap. Cartoons like Ren & Stimpy and Beavis and Butthead began to push boundaries of acceptable youth programming, and it was cool to wear lots of colourful, baggy clothes with stripes all over them, and a word like ‘juice’ shaved into your head.

A beautiful time to be alive. And, certainly, beautiful trends in toys would follow. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were hitting their stride and churning out one hundred different things for Bebop the warthog to do. And, as aforementioned in a prior article, midway through the decade, the hot ticket was grabbing an assload of Beanie Babies.

Today, I shall delve into a lost obsession that is slightly akin to Beanie Babies. Indeed, these too are collectible soft toys, but their time near the top was incredibly brief. Furthermore, the hold of their fabric was often even briefer. Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to my little sand lizards.


Those unfamiliar with middle-class North America in the 90s probably won’t get a kick out of this article, but if you grew up like I did, the above image should have at least garnered a little ‘oh yeah, I remember those’.

Overall, the 1990s were a good time for plush toys. The thing is, though, that each line had to have their own little quirks in order to differentiate themselves from the rest. In the case of these tie-dyed critters, their calling card laid within their bellies; a body full of sand. As such, you could bend and flop them about to your delight, piff them around and watch their limbs flail about in the breeze, and… well, that would have been it, because by that time, their seams would have split, and your bedroom would be filled with so much sand you’d expect David Hasselhoff to set up shop.

These particular lizards have been in my possession for a long time, now. The blue one’s name was Tropic, and the reddy pink dude was a party animal dubbed Zooba. They would get up to all sorts of mischief and shenanigans, leaving a steady stream of entrails behind them. Like some sort of creepy, cuddly Mortal Kombat spinoff. With lizards!


What was the appeal of these things? I have no idea. Just looking at them now fills me with grim dismay, their zip-lock bags saturated with sand and their use in today’s society trivial at best.

They look kinda cool, I guess, and come in various varieties of creature. This was likely all we needed as kids to justify dragging our parents into Northern Getaway and demanding that they fork out the dosh for an army of limp lizards, frogs and seahorses. In retrospect, what a bizarre sense of entitlement we felt as kids, eh? We expected our parents to buy us whatever we wanted, simply because we wanted it. Their not buying it felt like a betrayal of some unwritten contractual obligation. I hate to think of it from their perspective.

“I worked forty hours this week to buy my son some sand.”


I’m sorry, mom and dad. I ruined their marriage with my stupid lizards.

But we cannot undo the past. We cannot deny our Macarena sessions nor our Milli Vanilli obsession. We cannot deny our sand lizards. They are our gift. They are our curse.

And in actuality, just posing them for these photos has led for them to spit sand at me as though it were a defence mechanism. They’re like those kids who couldn’t control their bladders; you wouldn’t hang out with them for very long, and their presence was a nuisance, no matter what the situation. And like most lame kids, the lizards wear tie-dye, too. All the pieces fit. Like a sand castle, perhaps?

I guess the world just wasn’t ready for sand lizards. Manufacturers lacked the heavy duty technology required to keep them alive in our brutal eco-system, and the surviving sand populous has dwindled to record lows. Their fragile bodies are abominations upon nature itself. They’re like the mutated Ripley clones of Alien Resurrection, or Snooki.

And there’s only one place for them now.

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