James May’s Toy Stories
“James May manages to do two things which I think are much missing today: community and real play.”
James May’s Toy Stories – BBC TV Series Review.
Who is James May? Well, he made his face known as one of the new presenters on the new format Top Gear – not a bad place to show you’re cool with this millennium’s light entertainment crowd. Other than that though, James May is just “a nice bloke”.
He’s more than that though, he’s a nice bloke with some good ideas of how things should be.
He sees the world as something that has moved on, when in fact it shouldn’t. Toy Stories is really the ultimate expression of his mid-life crisis.
The series shows James trying to garner interest in the top toys of yesteryear. He’s already made shows about his childhood favourites, and once again, he’s taking on the might of Mario and Master Chief. James is trying to prove that these toys could still be popular with the “me” generation that favours immediate gratification – preferably through the wiggle of their thumbs.
The series started ambitiously, with May getting a team of school children involved in trying to recreate a life size Airfix Spitfire. It started small by simply introducing them to the dubious joys of Airfix models. I say dubious, as I remember fondly my own frustration at trying to get an undercarriage to match with a mis-moulded fuselage.
Amazingly, he cracks it. Week after week he manages to pull together people to help him out. I think that the sheer number of Dads out there now wanting the same thing has certainly inspired people.
James May manages to do two things which I think are much missing today: community and real play. I don’t know how he does it, but his ideas really do get people involved and working together. People are honestly interested in what he does. Then when he asks them to “get their hands dirty”, they’re more than willing. Whether it’s making a Plasticine flower, or laying a Scalextric track in their front garden – everyone is more than happy to do it.
It’s brilliant to see the kids getting involved and excited, and the way that suddenly parents and kids are coming together again to play. Look around you toy shops and toy aisles of the supermarkets and you’ll already notice the impact the show is having. Airfix, Plasticine, Scalextric, Meccano? All out from their dusty alcoves and brought to the front of the shelves. I hope that all the toy manufacturers who have supported the show have a bumper Christmas this year.
So far, the show has been a great success – it’s got my kids wanting to play with these things (I got home from work to find a Soft Stuff garden on the kitchen table, and the cries for “get down the Scalextric” have been incessant.
With big ideas and big backing, this is one of the best bits of TV for a long time!