A funny thing happened a moment ago. I was cruising along on Slickdeals for some unknown reason (perhaps the buy, buy, buy of Christmas hasn’t yet left my bloodstream), and I stumbled across the Playmobil Back to The Future DeLorean .
So yes, of course I stopped in my digital tracks and gazed lovingly (covetingly?) at the set. I don’t often, if ever, buy actual toys for myself, and yet the DeLorean ignited a small fire in my chest. I found myself thinking about putting the car together, setting it up on a shelf, and placing the figures around it. The thoughts were warm and happy ones that reminded me of my parents coming home with some small surprise for me as a child. I remembered the excitement of tearing open a colorful package to free the plastic prisoners within. The unabashed and guilt-free happiness I felt when given a toy as a kid is something I rarely experience as an adult, and I wondered why that is.
Perhaps it’s because, as adults, we’re keenly aware of unnecessary frivolities. Sure, the toy is on sale for $26.99, but that’s $26.99 I can spend on food, rent, student loans, or utilities. That’s $26.99 I can sock away into a retirement fund. We can’t help but think about these things because we’re responsible adults who know the value of a dollar and realize this silly plastic toy we momentarily desire will end up collecting dust on a shelf, stored away in a closet, or broken and tossed in the trash.
Were those fleeting moments of happiness upon receiving the toy worth $26.99?
In my article “Reconciling the Present with Nostalgia,” I reflect on this very issue:
“People often warn against becoming obsessed with nostalgia. They’ll tell you not to live in the past. They’ll explain how corporations use this potent drug to sell you useless junk that you don’t need. Make you invest time in reboots of old franchises that should never have been tampered with. And you know what? They’re right. At least, they’re partially right. There’s absolutely a dark side to indulging in our past. But they’re also shortsighted because nostalgia runs through so much of our lives, we are often blind to it. For instance, what are family traditions if not nostalgia?”
Sitting at the computer, staring at the listing for this toy, I imagine myself as a shivering man in the wilderness staring at a pile of kindling. My credit card is the flint and steel. The purchase and subsequent retrieval of the Playmobil DeLorean will ignite a blaze of nostalgia. Yes, it will eventually die down to coal, but that hot bed will remain, warming me in its glow.
Okay, yes. It’s weird to talk about material items this way. You may find yourself flinching away, thinking isn’t this what family, travel, nature, and education is for? Shouldn’t we eschew materialism for the immaterial and intangible enlightenment of love and life?
As I wrote in the aforementioned article, I note how these things are not mutually exclusive. Indulging in an admittedly frivolous purchase to recapture the excitement of our youth does not snuff our love for family or enjoyment of nature. This article itself reflects upon these things, all wrapped together in a messy tangle of ideas and feelings that make each and every one of us who we are.
Even after all of this reflection, all of these varied lines of thought, I still was on the fence about whether or not I would buy the DeLorean. I decided to scroll down on Slickdeals and look at some of the comments. To my surprise, there were posts directed at my exact dilemma.
“I have this, and it's absolutely fantastic. If you're a BTTF fan, you MUST have this, no questions asked. JUST DO IT.” -Satchriani
“As an adult that has this, you are correct, it's amazing. If you are a collector/fan of the movie series, buy this.” -phorq
“Also as an adult that has this...it is indeed amazing. The figures make it look childish, but the time machine itself has a high level of detail. It makes you appreciate the concept and fabrication of the real thing. It's a fun thing to be able to examine all the bits on a closer level.” -FS_Slacker
In addition, I watched Pixel Dan's video review of the toy.
This had me sold. But of course, since I am an adult, I couldn’t just buy the toy. No, no. It had to be a reward. Something I earned. So, I decided if I wrote a new article for the 80sXchange, I would reward myself with the Playmobil DeLorean, making this quite a...ahem...rewarding article. So if you’ll excuse me, I have some online shopping to do.
Sometimes it’s fun being an adult.