Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The Things We Do For Our Children

From day one, I've always been adamant that I would not let myself fall trap to the whole "marketing to children" thing. I would not buy character clothes, I would not buy character toys (with the exception of book characters, of course, to promote literacy), and I would not buy cartoon dvds for my children to watch ad nauseum.

Then I had a kid and he had his own thoughts on the matter.

He still doesn't have any character clothing, with the exception of a pair of Thomas the Tank Engine slippers that his Papa (as he calls his grandfather) sent him. He does have three small Thomas character pull back trains that he got in his Easter basket as well. There is also the sheet on his bed (a misguided attempt to get him to want to sleep there) and the little roundhouse playset, both purchased at Goodwill so I don't feel too bad about them. There are also three Thomas dvds, also Goodwill purchases.

Basically, I've given in mostly where the trains are concerned, even if I do think they're shifty eyed and kind of creepy. He loves them.

There is one other area though, where we caved a bit. The boy LOVES the Disney movie Cars. I swear he found (Goodness only knows how) every single Cars related clip available on YouTube using my iPhone and has watched them all about a hundred times. He knew all the characters and would chatter on and on about Lightning McQueen. Despite his excitement every time we saw something Cars related though, we held our ground and did NOT let him see the movie, lest it stoke the flames of his excitement further.

Well, then he got sick a few months ago. There was the cold, then the bug bite/allergic reaction, the ear infection, the allergic reaction to the amoxicillin...all in the space of about a week and a half. Times were rough around here, and we pretty much were willing to do anything to bring this poor boy a little bit of happiness.

We rented Cars.

He watched it six times in two days.

It was decided that we would get him his own copy instead of wasting money re-renting it. We poked around at a couple of places that sold used dvds and were able to locate not only a copy of that, but one of the direct to dvd special edition of Mater's Tall Tales.

Did I mention that "the brown tow truck" is his absolute favorite of the characters? Yeeeeeah.

Well this leads me to a post one of the organizers of our playgroup made on Facebook last week. Apparently Disney is gearing up for the release of the sequel to Cars by doing a nationwide tour with some of the characters from the movie. They weren't charging for this, and you could take photos. Normally, I'd skip this sort of thing because even though I like to take photos, I don't like standing in line or dealing with crowds.

Then I read the last part of the post. Not only was Lightning McQueen going to be there, but Mater, aka The Brown Tow Truck would be there too.

Crap. I was in. I told my husband about it, and he agreed that it would be something fun to do with the boy. He took the day off work so we could go stand in line in a parking lot, in the sun, in PHOENIX IN JUNE to see a freaking cartoon character. FOR TWO FREAKING HOURS. Oh yes we did. We are officially the kind of people who do ridiculous things for their children to make them happy for ten minutes.

I'll tell you what though. We didn't tell the boy what we were doing there. We just hung out in line with our friends, chatting and people watching and waiting to see his reaction when he realized what was at the end of the line. The look on his face when he saw that dang tow truck for the first time made every single sweaty, sore legged minute in that line worth while. His eyes lit up and he could hardly contain his excitement.

The boy loves him some Mater.

They were handing out these little Special Agent things to all the kids. You know those little red plastic things you hold up against red print to show a secret message in blue hidden behind the red ink? They had posters of some of the characters, and in the posters were little flaps with those messages. The kids could hold up their Special Agent card to the flap and read the messages.

Only, most of the kids there weren't really old enough to read. Also, the messages were so faint I even had trouble reading them. Someone in Disney's marketing department dropped the ball on that one! HA!

Of course, Bubba saw the other kids doing it so he wanted to do it as well. It was just fun for him to try and find all the flaps in the posters. Oh, notice the backpack? His grandma gave him that when she came to visit last January but he wanted nothing to do with carrying it. Fast forward to the playdate we had a couple of weeks ago when his friend Payton was wearing her backpack, and well, now he's all over it. This is cool with us because it means he can haul his own stuff around now. Pretty dang sweet if you ask us!

Here he is with his friend Savannah. I love how well these two get along. He's showing her the flaps.

Well, FINALLY we got to the end of the line where you could see the cars, and they did not disappoint. The attention to detail in recreating these things was amazing! I was glad that we stood in line so we could get photos right in front of each one instead of over people and from across the way. I mean, after two hours in the sun there was no way I was leaving without my pictures!

This is where the problem came in. They had photographers there too. That was fine and all. They were doing that thing where they'd take your photo and then give you a code so you could look it up online later. They weren't charging for this, which was nice. I asked the woman who was in charge of letting us in if I could take my own photos. She told me that I could, but she didn't see why I would want to do that because they were taking "beautiful, professional quality photos for free." I looked, and they did have very nice dslr cameras in front of each vehicle. They also had spots marked where you should stand, presumably so that you would be properly framed in each shot.

Still, I knew that since this was a sponsored event, the likelihood of each photo having some sort of tacky frame and/or the State Farm logo plastered all over it was high. I asked about that (leaving out the part about it being tacky, of course) and she said oh no, there would be no logo, just a nice photograph that you could download and print.

This is their "beautiful, high quality professional photo" with "no logo:"

Um, yeah. It's not even freaking framed properly! The colors are washed out, and they didn't even wait for my husband and kid to look at the camera. It's barely in focus. Oh, and remember how there would be no logo and no frame on it? Riiiiggghhhtt.

Luckily I don't listen very well and I went ahead and snapped my own photos anyway.

These were taken with my little Panasonic point and shoot. Proof that a good camera does not a good photographer make! If my husband hadn't been waving his arm around this would have been a pretty good shot.

This one was taken right next to where the girl was standing with the camera. They can't blame the washed out colors on the glare from the sun. Which, by the way, was setting and facing the cars, meaning that everyone was squinting in their photos. More poor planning.

Seriously though. The detail was amazing. Having the truck that hauled them there be a Mack was a nice touch too. The boy, although fighting crankiness after waiting in line in the sun for two hours, loved it. He talked about it the rest of the afternoon and the whole next day. The little Lightning McQueen key chain they gave all the kids has not left his side since Monday. He periodically will go admire the poster they gave us that is on his bedroom wall and chatter about seeing the race cars.

Let's just say that my husband and I agreed we won't be pulling a stunt like this again anytime soon though. :)

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Blogger Katy said...

Lucky boy!!

5:49 AM  
Blogger Muffy said...

This must have been the happiest day of his life. How cute! I think because he's not oversaturated with these characters, this meant so much more to him. Glad he had a blast!

9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We're the same way. I don't want my kids to get into stuff like that, but they still do. Thomas, Cars, etc. I let them be obsessed without showing them the videos, but they found a bunch on our iPad anyhow. LOL. They would LOVE something like this.
Good for you for taking your own photos . The one you got defies any logical explanation.

9:30 AM  
Blogger Samara Link said...

Cute .... sweet .... funny!

8:19 AM  

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