This article is going to be based on absolutely nothing educational and will be completely based off the trash rattling around in my head. Part editorial and part rage manifesto, I’m going to discuss the reasons slime is a terrible, terrible thing.
Let me give you a little bit of background about this particular Wizard writing this opinion piece today. I work from home, I run two websites (for more pop culture madness, visit Toy Wizard’s sister site, PopLurker.com!), and I have two screaming children home from an excessively long Winter Break. Therefore, some days are high stress, but we have to find some way to keep these kids entertained, right?
Not when my kids don’t know how to properly entertain themselves.
My son is on the autism spectrum, and is very selective about the toys he will and won’t connect with. My daughter is of average development, but takes cues from the boy, who is constantly growling, screaming, hitting, and fighting when his routine is interrupted.
That makes a lot of “Here, just watch YouTube and be quiet” moments in this house.
With YouTube, comes a hoard of strange videos ‘aimed at kids’, including toy videos. Once my children started seeing Ryan and his Toy Reviews, a plethora of surprise egg shows, millions and millions of blind bag openings, and infinity billion slime videos, these were the toys that my children started asking for.
And, as a toy collector and complete sucker, I gave in.
Now, don’t get me wrong. These kids have more figurines, action figures, trucks, trains, and dolls than I can count. There’s no shortage of regular toys. But when we go to the stores, I let them wander up and down those toy aisles with freedom because I want to see what they choose. I want to know what toys my children are interested in. But what I’m finding from both my kids and talking to other parents, is that in many cases, slime and blind boxes have replaced real toys.
And this is an absolute detriment.
I’ve watched my kids playing with slime and it’s just the weirdest thing ever. It’s as bad as watching them paint. At my house, painting is a five minute race to destruction. It’s a non-productive activity that I have to hover over to make sure my house isn’t destroyed. I might as well not even give them brushes or water. Handing them a small bottle of paint and watching them pour it onto a piece of paper, slam their hands into it, flip me the middle finger, and walk away laughing at me would be a more honest activity than by fooling myself by calling it ‘painting’.
Slime is the same way.
It’s this grotesque, oozing experience of dripping foam balls and glitter that sticks to my table. Some brands are more like putty, and that’s cool, because those don’t ruin furniture, but it has that raw-chicken texture bite that gross kids like mine that put everything in their mouths just can’t resist. Or my daughter will take the slime and implement it with her other toys, like encapsulating Princess Peach in a slime prison. And while I appreciate the creativity, guess which unlucky schmuck gets to scrub these toys clean?
Spoiler: It’s me.
In the big picture, slime is nothing new. According to an article from The Independent, slime was created and patented by Mattel in 1976. Early Nickelodeon viewers will remember slime used in abundance in the show You Can’t Do That on Television, Double Dare, and possibly even What Would You Do? The slime toy Gak was released in the 90s and Silly Putty and Play-Doh have been around since the 1940s and 1930s, respectively. So, playing with gunk toys is nothing new. My problem with it is this:
I feel like slime has replaced other toys.
This is an editorial; you have absolute right to disagree with me and write me off as an enraged crazy person. And that’s fine– I’ll always be the first to show myself out. But in a world where children’s toy sales are going down (I don’t care if you won the Christmas Wars, LOL Dolls) because kids are wedded to their smart phones and tablets…
Then aren’t they going to play with those oozy items seen in everyone’s fifteen thousand DIY slime toy, surprise egg, and blind bag videos?
Kids imitate what they see, right down to the part of the story where I had to throw my son’s shirt out because some jerk YouTuber got slime all over their shirt and celebrated it. Suddenly, my kids were getting slime on their clothes. It had never happened before, but now– boom. Copious amounts of slime just smeared across their fronts. With my daughter, we scrubbed her dress and wrote it off as a mistake. But when it happened again?
It was the work of a garbage kid ‘influencer’ on YouTube.
I don’t quite know how to wrap up these thoughts, because it’s a spiral of madness coming from a confused person who doesn’t know why her kids won’t play with toys. By age three, I collected hoards of dolls and made up elaborate epics with them, epics that would span multiple days of play. I created stories and dialogue and acted out with them how I understood the world. I learned about sex and gender and jobs and duties and adventures and magic through the eyes of my dolls.
And my kids…well…play with slime.
For like five minutes, I might add. Until they lose focus and are onto the next destructive activity.
But you know what? There’s a silver lining here. Because if I have two kids who I can’t get to connect with toys and experience the world through play, then the only thing I can do is save that money…
And use it to buy new action figures…for myself.