Usually, Memories is a feature reserved for reflection upon my past experiences with older games. However, in light of the recent, tragic news that Toys "R" Us will be closing the doors for every single store across America, I felt it would be a huge disservice not to talk about a store that helped make my childhood a little awesome.
There are stores that have toy sections and there are dedicated toy stores. However, few of them even compared to Toys "R" Us. For many, Toys "R" Us was not just a toy store. It was the toy store. Video games, action figures, plushies, kid friendly movies, bikes, that store had everything a kid could want. The sheer size of the store and its content meant you could spend hours browsing.
Anyone that is into video games can remember browsing the gaming section at a Toys "R" Us. The selection was huge, which made it one of my favorite places to go for video games. Back in the day, you would grab the ticket for the game you wanted, take it to the register to pay for it, go to the booth and they would give you your game. Sure, it took a just a little bit longer to get the game in your hands, but just remembering the process behind how Toys "R" Us used to handle their games brought a big smile to my face as I typed this. I was fortunate to live close to a Toys "R" Us so I spent many times in that store including adult years.
Being a huge fan of Mega Man, I was so excited when I saw the commercial for Mega Man 3 in 1990. I knew I wanted it to be my next NES game and so one Friday evening, my dad took me to Toys "R" Us, we went to the game section and my face lit up like a Christmas tree when I saw that there were indeed tickets left for Mega Man 3. Nothing sucked more than going into the game section and finding that there were no tickets left for the game you wanted. The latest issue of Nintendo Power (R.I.P.) had extensive coverage of Mega Man 3 and the Blue Bomber was even on the cover! My dad was kind enough to buy the issue for me and the info from that mag has been firmly implanted into my brain. On a related note, one of my many trips to Toys "R" Us ended up being the first time I got a look at the first Mega Man's horrific box art.
I wanted to buy Secret of Mana from Toys "R" Us in 1995, but the game was over $60 and I only had some $20 on me. Staring back at the price tag in disappointment, I settled on F-ZERO for the SNES as it was within my price range. I got quite a bit of enjoyment out of that game and unlike my Mega Man 3 cart, the F-ZERO cart I got from my Toys "R" Us is still in my possession to this day.
The Nintendo 64 was being hyped beyond measure. My dad preordered one at our Toys "R" Us and we eagerly awaited the September 29th release day. Imagine our surprise when we got a call from the store on the 28th and they told us we could come in and pick the system up. I don't know what was with our Toys "R" Us breaking the street date, but we decided not to ask questions. We went in and grabbed the N64 with absolutely no hassle.
During the 2000 seasonal period, I worked at my Toys "R" Us and not to toot my own horn, but I was good at selling people on video games, which earned me a spot in the electronics department. This was a time when it was especially difficult to get a PS2. I was in the back helping unload the truck one afternoon when we had gotten a shipment of PS2s in. Thankfully, the store managers let me call dibs on one. A year later, I would stand outside my Toys R Us before it opened to get my hands on the GCN, Luigi's Mansion, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II and Super Monkey Ball. My copy of Super Smash Bros. Melee was also bought from Toys "R" Us. I think 2003 was the last time I was in my Toys "R" Us in Dayton, Ohio and sadly, it would eventually close down and regrettably, this is now the fate of every single Toys "R" Us across America.
Shopping online certainly is convenient. Having said that, there are still some things that online shopping, no matter how much better it becomes, will ever be able to match when it comes to actually being inside a store. I love going into my Barns & Nobles and flipping through manga and graphic novels, seeing the new stuff and the older books. Last year, I learned that I wasn't very far from a Toys "R" Us in Virginia Beach and thanks to that store, I was able to get a copy of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild when so many stores were sold out of the game. I also got some World of Nintendo figures that I wasn't seeing in other stores I had been ton. Now that Toys "R" Us is going out of business, I'd like to go there one last time. Is it possible to be a Toys "R" Us kid without Toys "R" Us? Sure it is. Toys "R" Us may be gone, but you can bet that it will not be forgotten.