Mums ‘n Chums’ new Pop Culture Blogger Niki V delves into the sometimes confusing world of Beyblades.
By Niki V
Last summer it was Pokemon cards. This summer it seems to Beyblades. If you’re a Canadian mom of say a five to ten year old boy (or maybe a girl), you likely know what I’m talking about.
Beyblade Metal Fusion battle tops are suddenly all the rage with our elementary school set. These elusive, I-don’t-really-get-the-appeal-of-but-my-kids-have-to-have-them-because-everyone-else-has-them toy of the season seemed to magically appear in the hands of every second primary student on the playground the minute the snow melted.
When our sons asked for them, I have to admit that even though I had vaguely heard of them, I didn’t really know what they were. I was surprised (and a little disappointed) to learn that Beyblades are so-called “high performance” spinning tops that do battle in flimsy, plastic arenas. The tops, which come with a rip cord to launch them and a tool to tighten the toy’s parts if kids choose to disassemble and reassemble their interchangeable parts, cost around ten dollars a piece. The arenas, which seem to vary in size, shape and flimsiness, can cost anywhere from about twelve to thirty dollars. Beyblades are readily available at stores like Toys R Us and Zellers and make popular birthday gifts at the moment.
Originally from Japan, the toys have actually been around, in various incarnations, since 2000. Kids can collect tops in various colours and with cool sounding names like Flame Sagitarrio, Storm Pegasus and Dark Gasher. Different tops have unique attributes or strengths such as “Attack”, “Defence”, “Balance” or “Stamina”, which (in theory) enable them to perform differently in battle. Tops can also be disassembled and their various parts traded with other Beyblade owners. And, interestingly, Beyblade Metal Fusion tops feature symbols that represent one of the 88 known constellations in space.
Beyblades have also spawned an anime television show (which airs on YTV in Canada), various websites, books, video games and a myriad of other related merchandise.
Still, as I said, I don’t really get the appeal. I mean I just don’t see the thrill of “the battle”, a.k.a. watching two or more tops spin in a plastic bowl until one stops, with the one still spinning declared the winner. But, then again, I never really got the appeal of Pokemon or Bakugan, either. Now, it might just be because I am not an elementary-school aged boy or that I’m not as young as I used to be. After all, my sons and their friends can seemingly do this for hours.
Still, the mom in me can’t help but notice that little kids seem to have trouble loading and launching the tops. Or that once the tops are disassembled and reassembled (and possibly parts traded) several times, they seem to fall apart easily. Or, that the tightening tool is very easy to lose. Or that, if the tops are launched onto the ground instead of into the official arena, as most boys seem inclined to do, Beyblades seem to quickly become clogged with dirt or gravel and cease to function. And, of course, that all of these unfortunate realities often lead to frustration and tears.
So, does this mean that we refused to buy Beyblades for our boys? No, of course not. After all, wanting and getting that much sought after (and sometimes hard to find) toy is one of the sweet joys of childhood. I only have to look at the SuperBalls, Pound Puppies, Monchichis, Cabbage Patch Kids, Hacky-sacks, PogoBalls, Garbage Pail Kids, and Burning Key Cars of my youth for proof of that. Ah, the memories.
So, we bought our guys a few Beyblade tops and one of those flimsy arenas for them to do battle in. And, really, it’s pretty amazing how excited they get when they join a big group of kids huddled around an ensuing “Beyblade Battle”
And, do I think they’ll end up lost (and possibly broken) in back of the toy box in the not too distant future? Absolutely. But, do I care? Not really. I’m trying to remember that it’s all part of being a kid.
Niki V is a busy mom of 3 kids who loves reading, writing, laughing and technology. Aside from being Mums ‘n Chums’ new Pop Culture blogger, Niki also has her own blog, called So Apparent, which can be found at www.soapparent.blogspot.com