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The Toys That Made Us Seasons 1 and 2 DVD Review

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“The Toys That Made Us” is a fun and informative documentary series.

80s and 80s nostalgia is all the rage right now and you certainly get the best of both worlds with the Netflix documentary series “The Toys That Made Us” which revolves around the history of toy brands. Comprised of 8 episodes (4 per season), the binge-worthy series kicks off with an episode about “Star Wars” action figures and toys which revolutionized the toy industry and movie based action figures. Truthfully, this could have been the topic for an entire season as so much of the last 20 years is glossed over. Still, it’s a fantastic premiere episode that encapsulates the importance and success of the toy brand. Next up is an episode about “Barbie” which is surprisingly the best episode of the entire series to date. Without getting into too many details, I was surprised to learn that the history of Barbie was so bizarre and compelling. Also, the episode has to be seen for former Mattel CEO Jill Barad’s chair alone. The third episode is the tragic rise and fall story of He-Man while the fourth and final episode of season 1 covers the storied and evolving G.I. Joe toyline from the dolls in the 60s to the mega popular action figures of the 80s.

Season 2 may not be as strong as the first, but it is no less entertaining. First up is an episode about “Star Trek” toys. Within this, viewers learn about the Mego company which made a colossal mistake. The second episode takes viewers into the world of “Transformers” from the toy’s roots in Japanese toy lines to the American incarnations. Again, this feels like it could have been a full season given that much of the modern toy lines were glossed over as well. Episode 3 covers Lego. While a quality episode, much of what is here has been covered in greater detail in the documentary “A Lego Brickumentary.” Finally, there’s the “Hello Kitty” season finale which dives into the Sanrio company and its biggest brand.

As someone who has a fondness and affection for past and event present toys (especially “Star Wars” ones), “The Toys That Made Us” was right up my alley. It’s clear that creator/producer Brian Volk-Weiss also has great love for the toys and their history and it shows in each and every episode. Even though these are truncated histories, they are presented in accessible, fun and factual manners and you couldn’t ask for anything more. It certainly wouldn’t work if they were done in a stuffy and overly serious manner!

In terms of what viewers can expect from the episodes themselves, they’re very much like many docu series out there in that there’s interviews, narration (by Donald Ian Black), archival footage, tongue-in-cheek re-enactments, as well as up-close-and-personal looks at rare items such as prototypes. Even if you don’t care about toys or never grew up with any of these brands, you’ll be hard pressed not to get caught up into the fascinating stories about their inception and legacy (see the Barbie episode for reference). Now, when do we get season 3?

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.78:1. How does it look? Like any documentary series it varies in quality with the archival footage looking a bit rough. Still, the newly shot footage looks fantastic.

Audio Track: 2.0 Stereo. How does it sound? The Stereo track does the job.

Extras:
* “Featurette With Show Creator Brian Volk-Weiss”- An 8 ½ minute interview with the creator about toys and this series along with a tour of his stunning personal collection.
* A short near 2 minute deleted scene from the “Star Trek” episode about the 2009 movie toy line that was a bust.

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May 7, 2019 - Posted by | DVD review | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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