Lite-Brite. I wanted a Lite-Brite so bad when I was a kid but never got one. You could turn on the magic of colored lights with it and my mom didn’t even care. She said she didn’t want to step on all the little lights and then clog the vacuum with them because I wouldn’t clean up after myself. Just because something is true doesn’t mean I shouldn’t get a Lite-Brite.
When we moved when I was 9, our new neighbors had a Lite-Brite. I wouldn’t call the turning on of colored lights “magic,” it was more of a “huh” experience. And, I distinctly remember all of us kids moving on to something else and not cleaning up the Lite Brite.
The Lite-Brite commercials were a miraculous acheivement in advertising:
This commercial is 30 seconds long. The amount of fun you can have with a Lite-Brite is 31 seconds. The euphoria you feel watching the commercial: the lights, “all the things you can do with it,” a birthday party… it all ends right before the crushing realization that this thing, this Lite Brite, is not the end all and be all of everything that is fun and wonderful. And, let’s quickly break down everything they do in this commercial:
– Couple of examples of the template pictures – a clown, a ballerina.
– “Here’s Suzy.” Suzy took the time to make a Lite-Brite sign before she dismembered her family with an ax.
– Two kids, EACH WITH THEIR OWN LITE-BRITE, the little richies, doing more templates
– A little boy makes a good night sign for his absentee father. He has plenty of time to do it because he’s so lonely.
– Someone made a “Happy Birthday” sign with it for some kid’s party. And whomever that poor kid is, they weren’t allowed to blow their own candles out by themselves.
None of these things seem like fun at all when you stop to think about them. It’s the colors and the quick editing. Somehow, they created a commercial that made one of the most boringest things ever (that doesn’t even come with it’s own light bulb and oh-my-god it’s just a fucking light bulb with a shoebox over it) seem like heroin, crack, and candy all rolled into one.
And here’s an older one, I love the lame, generic promise of being able to “make people, animals, things.”
So, my mom never had to vacuum up lite-brite pegs, and I still learned the valuable lesson of something not being as awesome as it seemed. But you know what WAS awesome, that I used over and over again, and loved to no end? Fashion Plates. I may have only worn jeans and t-shirts (still do), but I’ll cobble together an amazing look for a fashion plate. This ad is for versions newer than mine was, and the New Kids on the Block version is hilarious:
Anybody have a Lite-Brite and love it? What other toys crushed your soul after you realized they sucked?