Christmas TV is fabulous. Even commercials up their game in a bid to create something that really stands out and will be talked about. When I think back to Christmas as a kid, I can remember sitting in front of the TV and getting extremely excited over the copious amounts of adverts for toys that filled the cartoon breaks. And as a kid in the 90s, there were some pretty cool ads out there. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed re-living my youth through a series of 30 second toy commercials, and here are my top 5:
Stretch Armstrong 1993
When I was a kid, I constantly flipped between having fun playing with my toys, and having fun trying to ruin them. All of my Barbies ended up with a short, spikey hairdo. I think that’s why I loved playing with Stretch Armstrong so much, as the toy’s USP was that you could try your best to pull him apart but he would never break!
This advert begins looking like a scene out of a children’s TV programme, which starts to tell the story behind this unknown superhero. Suddenly the hero appears in your house to continue the action. It flicks back to the TV programme (which is actually quite funny), providing kids with just enough to spark their imagination.
Talkboy Tape Recorder 1996
This toy advert comes off the back of one of the most popular Christmas films ever: Home Alone! My Christmas wish for years was to wake up on Christmas morning with an empty house just waiting for me to set up traps for potential intruders.
Anyway, this advert is for a toy that Kevin used in the film. In the advert there’s a blonde little boy, we’ll call him Kelvin, using his Talkboy Tape Recorder to play pranks on his big sister. After watching, you can’t help but start thinking about all the funny things you could do, if only you had a secret recording device…
I don’t recall Gak, so had no sentimental attachment to this advert. It’s made my top five purely because it made me smile. As well as the usual watching-kids-play-with-the-toy-scenes, we get to see an adult’s reaction to the toy. Said adult is the textbook snooty teacher type, and it’s the expressions she pulls and her disgraced retorts that are what make this ad worth watching.
Pretty Pretty Princess 1992
I only appreciate how funny this advert is all these years on. Wendy’s monologue about how she became a princess is cute. But it’s the disclaimers that appear on screen while she’s talking that make the advert funny. At four years old, you don’t understand their comedic value while you’re imagining yourself as a Pretty Pretty Princess just like Wendy. So it’s nice to be able to look back on an advert with new-found appreciation.
Transformers Beast Wars 1996
Growing up with two brothers and a dad who acts like a big kid meant that I was a bit of a tomboy. So this Beast Wars advert was right up my street. The advert is like a depiction of what’s likely to be going on in children’s minds while they’re playing with the toys – including an internal narrative. By getting inside the heads of the children they’re targeting, they’ve created an advert that not only captures children’s imagination but showcases it too.