So let’s travel back to the golden age of garbage. The late 90s leading into the early 2000s was an unprecedented time of novelty checkout line trinkets. Sure you can still find cheap add ons in Wal Mart if you look near the chapstick. Typically a cheap Sonic figure or novelty headphones. Nothing fantastic or special. Then again we have blind bagged goodies often found near trading cards or floating near the checkout area. They don’t really count in this article. Often just repackaged japanese gachapon items. That or the imitation style goods that I wouldn’t be surprised are dumped into capsules in Japan. Still now I’m getting off topic. I could go on for hours about regional repurposing merchandise. This is not about that. This is about Yak Backs, Beanie Babies, Tiger LCD games, and our star for the evening Silly Slammers.
These little bean bags checked off three 90s collectible giftable boxes. They were hacky sacks, collectable bean based plushes, and they had attitude. The Beanie Babies fad was in high swing. Now unlike say Webkinz these were never meant to be an investment. There was no expectation of future value. That is until there was. Eventually they branched out to comics, cartoons, and sports.
Not to overlook movies and anything else they could license out. These little blops were a perfect fidget item for an office desk or car ride. A quick brightly colored impulse buy that you could grab as a gift while getting your groceries. That or a kid could spend that pocket money burning a hole in their pocket. Like the fidget spinners of not to long ago they were everywhere. Grocery stores, gas stations, toy isles, or anywhere you spent money. Even Burger King got in on it. A true sign of pop culture integration the kids meal tie in.
So why am I bringing this up now? Well where are they? Just like your fidget toys I doubt you threw them away. They are just gone. I find it interesting how something can be everywhere then just fade away. Sure some live on in niche markets or just out grow it’s singular brand. There is no shortage of bean bag animals even if TY now makes button eyed nightmares the bean baby legacy lives on in every toy store and the more rare Hallmark style gift shop. Furby came back for a bit. Hell even Boglins are being made as direct purchase only items. So why not a yelling bag you toss about? Perhaps we are more socially conscious about loud noise based toys? I mean the market atleast, go shopping for more than thirty minutes and you will hear enough speaker phone conversations or random guy blasting his music without earbuds to prove me wrong. So I’m inclined to say these are resigned to bring a thing I once bought. A sad fate for anything to be stuck in for sure. Just a little passing conversation either of a shared experience among people my age, or more realistically a way to date myself in a Discord chat on the same level of mentioning dail up internet. More personal than some obscure TV show, but not as interesting as some old video game Silly Slammers are a snap shot of how life was back in the 90s. I don’t particularly care about the Slammer itself, despite how silly it may be. I just remember picking one up and tapping it slightly to hear the but crushed yell. Putting it back down and leaving the store just thinking about all the fun I could have with it once it was finally mine. Scrounging up change, saving my lunch money, and bumming a few bux from my friend with a paper route. Finally having enough to get one myself only to face the soul shattering dread of the one I wanted to be gone. So I did what we all do. I lied to myself. I told myself I found a better one and I bought it without a second thought. Sure enough I was tired of it by the time I got home. Occasional bouts of boredom would get it tossed around my room for a few minutes. Eventually but went from my desk, to a stuffed animal pile, and finally some long list box of stuff I didn’t want but more importantly didn’t want to throw away. The brand lived on for a while after I got that itch out of my system.
So that is my personal history of a thing I once bought. Sure you could Google it. Read the wiki article and dig into the collectors market for second hand Slammers. Just sometimes that hurts the memory more than it gives me a nostalgic bump. The childlike wonder and mystique that comes from not knowing everything is sometimes the only part of a product that helps keep it’s charm years later. Best example is the Disney Afternoon. All those wonderful shows that seemed to end to soon? It was by design. They were specifically capped at three seasons and two movies each. Learning that suddenly put a very callus skin over those shows. That they were all shelved to stop stagnation and to free up staff for the next big thing. That obviously yes Disney viewed them as a product isn’t surprised just a depressing reminder that everything I loved was only made available to me because somehow in some way it would make them a few dollars. That Bonkers was no more special than a ten dollar bean bag that screams at you stuffed next to multicolored gum packages and small pocket comics about Archie and Sonic. That is knowledge I will have to live with. So sometimes I will just look at pictures or commercials of old little bits of my childhood and focus on what that means to me, and I hope you do so too. Until next time, stay comfy, and dig out your box of treasured garbage one more time while you still know where it is.