It a sad occasion when one those things you grew up with, one of those names you have had in your head for entire life goes away. A relative you grew up with, your favorite television show, and for me the recent announcement that Toys R Us will soon be no more.
TRU as it was sometimes known as is one of those things kids of my generation remember growing up with, even if there wasn’t a store close by. For me, if I actually wanted to go to a TRU it was over an hour in either direction. Growing up near Augusta, Maine, you either had the Portland location an hour and more south in Portland, or nearly 2 hours in the other direction in Bangor up North. As I got older I’d have plenty of experience with both stores but as a kid, I didn’t see either one of them very often (often not going to them for years at a time). But at the same time, I still remember going to them as a special treat.
But more than actually going to the stores were the commercials. Back in the day of Saturday Morning cartoons, There were plenty of those commercials with kids singing away “I’m a Toys R Us Kid!”
After the jingle, you’d see the latest offerings from the big toy lines of the day like Masters of the Universe, G.I. Joe, Transformers, and a whole lot else a little boy of the time would ever dream of.
Of course with the nearest stores over an hour in either direction, it’s more accurate to say I was a Zayre kid than a Toy’s R Us kid. But I knew those stores existed and someday I’d be able to get to one.
Sitting here thinking it over, there are a few things that I remember specifically getting at TRU over the years, even if it happened a little later than what most “normal” kids would have.
Back in the late 90’s I remember getting my very own Nintendo 64 from the Portland TRU on my way back from my annual trip to Boston Children’s Hospital. Those were an all-day trip for me. Hell, it was nearly a 4-hour trip just to get there, let alone the trip back. But after going to the annual Doctor’s Appointment as the sky was getting darker, there was the lights of the Portland TRU and walking out with my newest game system. Then having to wait because it was right to bed as soon as I got home. I had to get up for school the next day. But after all that, getting that bad boy plugged in and going to town was worth the wait.
The other happened a few years later. If you’ve ever read some of my other articles for The Nacho, you’d already know I am a huge fan of the 80’s G.I. Joe figures and have been since I was a kid. My favorite figures ended in 1994, but at the time, there had been word that they were coming back, but as TRU Exclusive figures. I didn’t have a license so making the drive in either direction wasn’t going to happen. But I had a friend who did. We made the trip down to Portland and once again visited the store and as soon as I got inside I was looking for them. In one of those moments, over the store’s loudspeaker came the strains of
You couldn’t have written a more perfect moment. I found the end cap display and ended up picking up quite a few of the figure sets. It was like seeing an old friend after not seeing them for a number of years.
Yes, I’m a geek. I was then and am now.
So yes, some of my best TRU moments came later in life than many who are also looking back as we say goodbye to Geoffry the Giraffe. But I still have them and I hope that someone else has memories they clutch onto as well as the once mighty name in toys closes its doors for the last time.