Saturday, 22 September 2012

Back to the 90s: X-TREME Toy Ads

It’s the early 1990s, and I am sitting before the TV. No doubt I am watching after-school cartoons, or perhaps early morning Saturday cartoons.

No matter. What has stuck with me after nearly twenty years is not the content of the show, but of one particular advertisement. It involved high-stakes action, ninjas and foam darts.

It was an ad for the NERF Bow ‘n’ Arrow, and it blew me away.

Of course, watching it again in 2012 renders it a little more ridiculous than it was back then. A friend of mine owned one of these devices, and I have to say that it was not quite the powerhouse weapon that the ad makes it out to be—though it was a great deal of fun.

I think this ad typifies a wider 90’s trend (that quite possibly began even earlier) of marketing boy’s toys in as EDGY and X-TREME fashion as possible. A former boss of mine and I were discussing this a few years ago, particularly in reference to Hot Wheels toy cars.  

In discussion, we noticed a few common features across these X-TREME ads:

*vaguely heavy metal music, often (though not necessarily) with vocals related to the product

*narration emphasising the SERIOUS NATURE of the product

*editing that makes things look far more intense than they actually are

Thinking back over it now and watching a few ads on YouTube, it all seems highly cynical and outrageously outdated. Yet as children we fell for it all, buying up all the cheap plastic junk we could, largely because of the way it was advertised.


*Hot Wheels


*Super Soaker (which are produced under the NERF brand these days, I might add)

*Mighty Max

*G.I. Joe

Even so, although I look back on it with different eyes these days, I can’t deny that I did have a lot of fun with these toys. If anyone has any further suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

Also, do they still do this X-TREME thing with marketing kid’s toys? Or was it more of a 90s thing?