This is going to date me somewhat but you know what I sometimes miss…life before the internet. But only sometimes. For the most part the internet is fantastic. It allows me to stay in touch with old friends, watch my favorite music videos, get all the latest news on the things that I care about, and of course share this blog with you. It’s made our lives so much easier but there is a small part of me that misses the days when things weren’t so easy. Things like Wikipedia and Youtube didn’t exist when I was in high school. Not everyone you knew had an email address and they certainly didn’t have a facebook page. Believe it or not, not every single person had a cell phone in their pocket either. Back in those days when people had a pop culture question they turned to me. I actually remember getting phone calls from people who were trying to settle arguments and they needed me to provide answers to questions like “What was He-Man’s cat’s name when he wasn’t Battle Cat?” or “What were the names of the girls in Jem and the Holograms?” I actually got those calls and I actually knew the answers. I was even able to name all of the Misfits and the Stingers (rival bands of the Holograms). Nowadays anyone can just pull out their phone and google it in 5 seconds.
Very handy yes, but at the same time it diminishes the need for people to know or remember anything. Bars around town often host trivia nights. Years ago I would have been an indispensable asset to have on your team. Nowadays everyone just grabs for their smart phone. I also think that unlimited access to media like music and film has it’s downside. It’s great that you can find anything you want with the click of a button but back in the day you had to buy or “earn” your collection. Like my good pal and regular reader Adam. He’s a huge Nirvana fan but so was everyone else in high school. But only Adam paid big bucks and spent a lot of time seeking out rare foreign imports and b-sides. He had a truly impressive collection of Nirvana music. But now, anyone can download the entire Nirvana catalogue; b-sides, rarities, demos and all with one click and totally for free. It doesn’t seem fair somehow. I know, I’m old and I’m also off topic. Back to my point…
I spent my early childhood in Ontario. I didn’t move to Nova Scotia until grade 3. One day, probably in junior high, a friend and I were watching Saturday Night Live and Mike Myers was doing his reoccurring sketch about a character named Simon who liked to do drawings in his bathtub. I commented that it was a spoof of that old Simon cartoon. My friend had no idea what I was talking about. I was shocked. “You know, the kid who whatever he draws on his chalkboard comes to life in a vacant lot down the road.” Blank stares. I was sure he’d remember it if he could just see it but how was that possible? There was no such thing as the internet back then. I thought back to other shows from my youth, “You must remember the Barbapapas.” More blank stares. How could he not remember the Barbapapas?! That lovable family of shape shifting blobs. At school the next day I asked around, no one had ever heard of either of these shows. None of my peers remembered them at all. People thought I was making them up. If not for my brother Doug backing me up on this I may have started to question my own sanity; had I dreamed up these shows? Unable to prove my case I forgot about it and moved on. Years later I was visiting Ottawa with my ex girlfriend Toni. (trips with exes seems to be the theme this week, sorry Vanessa, it wasn’t intentional.)
While checking out a souvenir shop I shockingly discovered a rack literally filled with Barbapapa merchandise. Hard evidence at last! To my surprise Toni remembered them too and was just as excited about the discovery. She spent her early years in Ontario as well and apparently she was shocked that no one else remembered them either. Apparently over the years she had had conversations similar to the ones I did. It was then we figured out that it must have only aired in Ontario, which made sense because Mike Myers hails from Ontario too. Toni ended up buying a Barbapapa clock and I bought figurines of the father, Barbapapa, and my favorite Barbababy, Barbabeau. I was tempted to buy the whole family but they weren’t as cheap as you’d think blob action figures would be. Of course nowadays a quick google search would provide the proof I need but that’s not as fun as physically being able to whip out my pink Barabapapa. Er…
Just so you know, Wikipedia tells me that “Simon in the land of chalk drawings” was a British show that aired in Canada, only in Ontario. Apparently a new version airs on teletoon these days. As for the Barbapapas, the whole Barba family was originally conceived as a series of children’s books originally published in France. Barbapapa apparently translates to Cotton Candy.
As for my review of the figure itself, I really like it. Though it would’ve been pretty hard to screw up; he’s just a blob of pink with a smile. The simple sculpt looks great and brings me back to those early Ontario days of my youth. I’m not sure of the significance of the bouquet of flowers but my options were either this one or another figure Barbapapa figure where he looked like a sperm forming a heart with his tail. 7 out of 10.
UPDATE: I originally published this post in June 2012. Today is December 31, 2014 and I’m reviewing the stats of my blog. I’ve been posting toy reviews for over 3 years now and have written over 700 reviews. For some reason this post is my third most viewed page. The first is my home page which has 77,243 views. Next up is Tomb Raider which has 32,313; that one gets a lot of traffic because it features Angelina Jolie in a bikini. Next up is this post with 4,480. Almost every other post has less than 2,000. I don’t know why but apparently a lot of people are interested in Barbapapas. If you’re visiting this page I’d be curious to know what brought you here. Please comment below. Thanks.