I wish all toys could be as cool and child-friendly as these Lego-compatible Doctor Who building sets, but they’re not. I’m not sure exactly where lines should be drawn. Family values, child maturity, and other factors make such decisions highly context-dependent. I believe lines must be drawn, though, and I’ve found a Doctor Who toy that certainly exceeds mine.
I’m a huge Doctor Who fan. Really, I am. I’ve been watching since I was an elementary school kid in the 80′s, back when PBS showed old reruns.I’ve built my fair share of TARDISes out of Construx. I’ve argued over who the best and worst Doctors have been (Tom Baker and Sylvester McCoy, respectively). I have several classic serials on DVD, and I’ve kept up with the new show. I even have a CD of theme and incidental music from the classic shows. Doubt not that I am a Who geek. I fully intend to raise my children with an appreciation for the adventures of everyone’s favorite renegade do-gooder Time Lord.
They’ll never have a Dalek riding toy, though.
If you’re a Doctor Who fan, you certainly know who the Daleks are. For non-fans, the Daleks are basically mutated humans driving around cybernetic shells that resemble salt and pepper shakers (or garbage cans, depending on who you ask). They look a bit silly, and are ripe for being picked on. They’re among the Doctor’s archenemies, and they’re popular with the fans. They’re great baddies, because they’re fun to hate.
Of course, there are good reasons to hate them. They’re genocidal murderers bent on universal domination. The guy that created them modeled them on the Nazis. No, really. That’s not the kind of exaggeration that’s so common in politics these days. The Daleks are actually based on the Nazis. So these psychopathic pepperpots, the result of an advanced eugenics program, terrorize time and space to establish themselves as the master race and subjugate or eradicate all lesser species.
Wouldn’t it be great if our kids could pretend to be such monsters? Well, now they can!
“The steering wheel has 10 authentic Dalek phrases that are button activated. The ride-in comes with flashing lights for an atmospheric glow, giving the child the maximum realistic feeling of being in the Dalek and moving around like a Dalek.”
Oh goody! Gee, I sure hope they say “Exterminate!”, “Annihilate!”, and “We are the superior beings!”
I know playing with these things isn’t going to turn kids into soulless, compassionless, evil automatons, but isn’t this toy in really bad taste? Were World War II and the Holocaust so long ago that we don’t mind our kids yukking it up as intergalactic Nazis? Wouldn’t there be an uproar if kids were playing dress-up as SS officers or inviting their friends over for an imaginary tea party at Auschwitz? Bumbling dot-candy-covered dustbins that they are, Daleks are great for making fun of Nazis and teaching lessons in accessible and entertaining sci-fi form. However, I’m not comfortable with kids play-acting as those monsters. I hope I’m not alone.
The best part of this ridiculous Onionesque story is where this playtime panzer is being unveiled.
Yes, that Nuremburg.
I haven’t decided if the folks running Kids@Play are historically uninformed, ignorantly insensitive, blinded by greed, or just think they’re funny or clever. I suspect the Germans will not be amused.