Since my kids are well into their teenage years, I'm completely out of the loop when it comes to toys aimed at younger children, especially the toys of the pre-school and early grade school crowd. However, during a recent trek to Target, I decided to take a stroll through their toy section to check out the latest superhero toys. Stopping me in my tracks was Hasbro's line of Hulk toys and games. My reaction?
Two words: "What the?!..."
Here, let's run down a few of the Hulk-themed toys I ran across, which...while cute as a button, were also strange as all get-out (click on the photos for larger views)....
Marvel Super Hero Squad-Abomination and Hulk: Since the new Hulk movie is rated PG-13, these doe-eyed versions of Hulk and the Abomination are subtley cynical creations. Although the age group they're aimed at clearly aren't the movie's target audience, Hasbro (and everyone else) knows full well that boatloads of clueless parents will bring their tiny tots to the movie anyway, regardless of the PG-13 rating.
Yeah, I know...it's not the first time PG-13 movie tie-ins have been marketed to a much younger crowd, but I guess seeing a freaky character like the Abomination translated into a "Happy Lil' Fella" is pretty jarring. Plus, how many tykes can even pronounce "abomination", anyway?
Power Glow Hulk: From the sales pitch:
"The gamma radiation running in the Hulk's blood surges, giving him incredible strength! His very skin glows green from the incredible energy within, and nothing can stand up to the Hulk's gamma charged power!"
In other words, pretend you're playing with something that's emitting high levels of radiation! Wheeeee!
"Press the Hulk figure's power glow button and watch his "skin" glow green with anger!"
Dare I ask where the power glow button is located?
"Fists clenched with rage, this gritted-toothed hero means business - and he's heading for your neighborhood!"
A rage-filled, extremely radioactive man-monster is heading for our neighborhood? Pleasant dreams, kids!
Operation Hulk: Okay, what do we have going on here? Apparently Lil' Spider-Man and Lil' Iron-Man need our help "fixing" an ailing Hulk. Why a powerhouse like the Hulk would require hospitalization, or how teddy bears and butterflies penetrated his invulnerable hide isn't explained...but like the classic Operation game it's based on, there's plenty of pressure on kiddies to remove the "funatomy parts" without triggering the heart-stopping Sound Effect O' Failure.
But wait...what's that green mist that seems to be emanating from the Hulk's nether regions? Obviously some sort of gamma-charged super fart (the Holy Grail of kid humor)...silent and plenty deadly based on the skull and crossbones symbol floating inside of it!
Don't Wake Hulk: Based on "Don't Wake Daddy" (yet another heart attack-inducing game), this version features a very kid-friendly Hulk who "needs his sleep" while his superhero buddies engage in the noisy business of crime fighting. If you have to push Hulk's alarm clock one too many times, up he'll pop in a fit of rage...sending your hero straight back to the Starting Line! As we all know, a sleepy Hulk in the comics usually lead to him to transform back into Bruce Banner, but I think we can overlook that bit of Hulk lore in this instance. After all, how many kids would want to play "Don't Wake Bruce"?
Zoom-N-Go Hulk ATV 4-Wheeler: Hilarious on so many levels, Zoom-N-Go Hulk puts the "nonsense" in "nonsensical". What...riding an ATV is preferable to his 100 mile leaps? Does he stop at a gas station to fill the tank? Could this technically be considered "Off-Road Rage"? Most important, can he pop extended wheelies?
Plus, not to be too much of an old poop, but considering the surprising number of young kids that ride ATV's (especially in my part of the country), check out the responsible riding skills the sales pitch encourages:
"The Hulk smashes right through anything that gets in his way! He’s the most powerful superhero there is, so when he hits the road, everyone else better watch out! The Hulk is coming through and nothing can stop him!"
Now, get the Hulk to ride the Zoom-N-Go ATV in the upcoming movie, and I think you've pretty much guaranteed a HULK SMASH BOX-OFFICE success.