In the olden days, kids used to have things called ‘hobbies’.
A ‘hobby’ is loosely defined as ‘an activity your parents order you to do because they’re sick of you running round yelling when they’re trying to watch Spender’.
If left to my own devices, my hobbies would have included the following:
- picking my nose
- mixing all the shampoos in the bathroom together to make ‘magic potions’
- forward rolls
- saying ‘willies’ then laughing uncontrollably because this is hilarious
This wasn’t enough for my parents, who endlessly strived for excellence on my behalf. As such, I was bought various improving activities to do, despite the fact that my parents had met me.
Let’s have a look, courtesy of the 1992 Index catalogue my parents seemed to use as their own personal Harrods, at the various ways parents tried to shut their kids up for half an hour.
What Index said: “Create beautiful designs at the turn of a wheel. Mix and match each outfit, rub the outline through, colour it in and cut it out.”
Reality: Rub across the entire wheel with your orange crayon because you’ve lost all your other crayons, ending up with a design for an obese hi-vis vest. Still feel like Vivienne Westwood. Cut out hi-vis vest, become confused when it won’t magically attach itself to your Barbie and has to be sellotaped on. Barbie now looks like shit.
My god, I loved Fashion Wheel. My biggest regret is not buying the one I found in a charity shop last year. I didn’t buy it for two reasons: 1) it would have been covered in shit, piss and general DNA from strange kids, and 2) I’m in my 30s, what the hell am I going to do with a Fashion Wheel.
Fun fact: my autocomplete keeps trying to change it to ‘Fashionable Wheel’. I bet that exists somewhere in the world of cheap knock offs.
And speaking of cheap knock offs…
Definitely Not Etch A Sketch
What Index said: “Turn the knobs to create your own design and drawings. Turn over and shake to erase.”
Reality: Attempt to draw something. Fail. Attempt to draw something simpler. Fail. Attempt to draw a sodding line. Fail. Figure out how to sort of write a swear, then shake it before your mum comes back in the room. Spend the rest of the time attempting to cover the entire screen because there’s really nothing else to do with it.
“Magic Doodler”. The only magic part was them not getting sued.
Crayola Deluxe Art Case
What Index said: “Sturdy carry case with name tag. Includes washable pens and paints, coloured pencils and crayons, sharpener, eraser, drawing pencil and paper.”
Reality: After your parents realise that you’re not going to do a recreation of The Last Supper because you’re 5, they confiscate your paints, because “this is a new carpet”. The felt tips will go into your pencil case, along with your other 600 felt tips. Meanwhile, the crayons will eventually be sharpened with the pencil sharpener, in an attempt to make really shit ‘glitter’ with the shavings.
However, I’m sure we can all agree that Crayola was up there with Molin and Berol for felt tip bragging rights. As such, a Crayola art set was an ace thing to have.
What Index said: “The magnetic drawing toy. use the magnetic drawing pen and discs to create drawings, play games or write messages, then erase them like magic!”
Reality: Immediately lose all the stamping parts, before you even get it out of the box. Draw some shit then erase it like magic! Draw some more shit, then erase it like magic, only slightly less than last time. Draw some more shit, only now you can’t draw in that dented bit caused by dropping something on it, so avoid that part. Erase it like magic, but you can definitely still see the remains of that drawing from yesterday.
Etch A Sketch’s div cousin.
What Index said: “A fascinating way to draw over a million different designs. Fun and easy to use.”
Reality: Put a biro in the thing. Thing goes round and round and round and round. Brief period of “wow this is good”. Thing goes round and round and round and round. Entire page covered with circles. Pretty snazzy. Put different coloured biro (probably green) in the thing for a change. Thing goes round and round and round and round. Eventually all the paper you own is covered in circles. Feeling of accomplishment.
Parts will get lost at the rate of approximately one per hour, starting with the big hoop thing because it’s more use as a ‘magic prison thing’ in a game of He-Man.
Get Set! Colour Candles
What Index said: “All you need to make great colour candles. Blended wax, dyes, mould, wick, modelling wax, mould-sealant and 32 page booklet full of bright ideas.”
Reality: Stare longingly at the picture in the catalogue. Do you really think I had any chance in hell of getting this?
Prima Fashion And Fun Modelling Clay
What Index said: “The brilliant modelling material that bakes hard in the oven. Complete with key rings, brooch backs and magnets to make all sorts of jewellery and gifts.”
Reality: Make a killing at bring ‘n’ buy sales for years to come, as guilty parents buy a load of squashed jewellery with fingerprints in it.
My older sisters had Fimo, so I’m well versed in seeing various disfigured brooches lying around, usually shaped like a fried eggs because they were easy to do. Another creation of choice was to arrange all the neon clays into an attractive, eye gouging pattern a la Saved By The Bell, then stick the pattern onto a lovely key ring.
Of course, if I got my hands on their stash, then the result was a load of lovely multicoloured sausages. They were less good as key rings.