Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Nick-nick-nick-nick, nick-nick-nick-nick, NICKELODEON!
Ask 90s Tony what his favourite channel was, and he’ll emphatically blurt Nickelodeon! Inquire what kind of kid he was, and he’ll reply that he was a Nick kid! Then, for the love of god, please don’t tell him to get into the back of your van, because he’s already said too much. Why is he talking to a time-traveling stranger?
The children’s entertainment channel Nickelodeon has been around for a lot longer than many realise (launching as the Pinwheel network in 1977, the year of the Blue Jay!), but they didn’t really hit their stride until 1990, with the opening of Nickelodeon Studios, and the premiere of their original animated material in 1991.
I say all this as though I knew this factually, but I purloined this info from Wikipedia. The same Wikipedia that once proclaimed Canada to be the ‘national land of goat’. So you’ll have to excuse me if I ever cite slightly inaccurate knowledge.
The fact remains, however, that I was the key demographic targeted when Nick was in its renaissance in the 90s. I was the middle-class North American child, and I was all about slime, the big orange couch, and Stick Stickly. To kids of today, their favourite Nicktoons are most likely Spongebob Squarepants or Danny Phantom. But for me, it was probably Ed Bighead or the Gromble.
Am I really being elitist about watching a network for children’s programming in the 90s? Why yes, I am! Because it was marketed to be inclusive; you were part of their team… you wrote to them, and they’d respond! You told them about your birthday, and they’d display your name in a gigantic machine operated by a green creature. Dammit, we were as much Nick as Nick was Nick!
In 1994, we were introduced to a school of monsters, whose coursework consisted primarily of scaring the bejeezus out of people. I think such classes still exist in Namibia, but they’re scarce and unfocused. My favourite monster out of the main trio was this guy right here, Ickis. My reason for favouritism was simple, and consisted entirely of RED.
Nabbing some Aaahh!!! Real Monsters toys was cause for celebration, because as near as I recall, these suckers were pretty elusive. Either they just sold by the buttload, or Mattel had little faith in the franchise, and thereby under-produced the demand. I’m not particularly fazed by the actual answer, though a collection of four packaged toys is currently fetching $87.96 USD (12% off!), under the venerable old guise of ‘HTF’.
Ickis, arguably the main character, is a neurotic, almost Woody Allen-esque monster whose lacking confidence stems from, among other things, the fact that he resembles a bunny rabbit. As such, he’s often finding ways to cheat his way to success, or ends up being a pussy and leaving Oblina and Krumm to do all the hard work. In retrospect, I’m hoping that I didn’t associate with the character, because that’s a pretty shitty role model for an impressionable six year old to emulate.
Despite his shortcomings, however, Ickis has the power to grow to multiple times his original size, for maximum scare factor. This quality is represented in true form within this toy… STAND BACK, HE’S GOING TO TRY SCIENCE.
Well, yeah. I mean, all things considered, it’s pretty good. You lift his arms (or push on the back of head. I like to do this because it resembles a trash bin lid) and he unveils his sinister red eyes and a row of fearsome teeth. The only growing he does is purely symbolic. It’s an emotional growth, to be sure.
Beyond that, his arms are fairly static, due to being the (possible) instigator of said transformation, and his legs can be turned about and about to your heart’s content. I’m sure you can write that into your playtime experiences somehow.
And that’s about it, really. I open 2012 with a fairly uninspiring toy coupled with a fairly uninspiring entry. But that’s okay, because I’m quite certain that ending 2011 with the unboxing of Krillin wasn’t exactly a riveting thrill ride, either. Truly, the world will end not with a bang, but with a whimper.
As such, 2012 too opens in this fashion. No bang. Simply a large black man from Honolulu.