George has got a Fisher Price garage - it says ages one to four on the box, so he's starting with it a bit early (he's nine months old this week). Anyway, daddy had a Fisher Price garage and I'm telling you, they ain't what they used to be.
George's is much more colourful than daddy's was – and is probably a bit bigger, but the older version (below) worked so much better. The big disappointment in the latest version is the car lift at the side. Now, forgive me if I'm a little off the mark on finer details – I haven't played with my Fisher Price garage for quite a while and can't remember exactly where I left it – but as far as I remember, the lift worked by winding a handle and when the car got to the top it shot out on to the top floor of the multi-storey parking area and rolled all the way down the ramp to the petrol pump at the bottom.
This new lift has no winding handle – just a big plastic tab that you grab to move the lift up and down (how boring is that?) and besides, it's pretty hard to do. In fact, you have to put your hand on top of the garage in order to move the lift up (rubbish). Then, when the car gets to the top, the lift floor tilts but you have to give the car a shove and "drive" it over to the ramp so that it can whizz down to the bottom. And I haven't finished yet – the ding doesn't ding (pathetic).
George does have some good Fisher Price toys but this garage is plain, lazy toymaking. Luckily, George hasn't had the opportunity to compare – and at the moment he's happy enough using the ramp to roll brightly coloured cups and balls down.
I've got a feeling there will be more things to come that I remember with fond, rose-tinted nostalgia that have traversed childhoods and evolved into cheaper, tackier and disappointing shadows of their former selves.
I don't know if George will ever be interested in one of those Evel Knievel bikes that you wound up until the pent-up energy got too much, it rocketed off and – if you had enough room – didn't stop for miles (brilliant), but even though I'd quite like to buy him one some day (apparently they're still available somewhere), I'm not sure I could live with the disappointment should it fail to be as fantastic as I remember.
So, it all seems a bit Catch 22 – buy new stuff that's inferior or buy old stuff that isn't as great as you remember.
Hopefully we can rely on The Six Million Dollar Man.
And, in case you were wondering where George has got to... here he is.