Our 2011 Road Trip, Part 5: Toys R Us Kicks


[The very special miniseries continues! See Part One for the official intro and context.]

It’s our first evening in New York City. We’re in Times Square. We’re wandering and gaping and acting like overwhelmed tourists. It’s who we are. We knew sooner or later we had to enter a store instead of just staring at their flickering big-screen ads.

They say there are eight million stories in the naked city. Nine million if you count its toys.

As fans of action figures and other forms of hands-on entertainment, we came to the no-brainer agreement that our first Times Square store ought to be their three-story Toys R Us. The store logo pales in comparison to their ad for one of their ancillary products.

Captain America!

Hi, I’m Chris Evans! You might remember me from such comic-book films as Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and The Losers! And those other two starring me as Fire Guy!

Indianapolis has three Toys R Us locations of its own, not including the one that was nearest our house till it closed a few years ago. Our TRU visits have been a lot less frequent than they used to be, so in a way this was like a reunion. We took our time exploring and romping up the levels and through the aisles, goggling at the towering mascots from various corporate-owned worlds of wonder, thrilling the kids and peddling their merchandise.


Obi-Wan and Anakin taking their Clone Wars battle stances and looming over their fans.


Witness the Man of Steel versus steel wheels in aerial combat!

Optimus Prime!

Optimus Prime shakes his fist in rage every time he sees a Transformers: Dark of the Moon ad starring anyone but himself.


Everyone loves animatronics from old movies! Too bad we couldn’t have a diorama of Ray Harryhausen skeleton warriors.


Pose for green-screen photos with your favorite Marvel characters if you’re man enough to shove all those other fans out of the way!


Every minute, fresh drones emerge from the Barbie section chanting, “MATH CLASS IS TOUGH. MATH CLASS IS TOUGH.”

Lego City!

Lego and other building toys are…well, they sure are there. Build your own New York Cities, then smash them with your other, cooler toys!

An indoor Ferris wheel consumes most of the store space, for those who enjoy a different, less object-oriented form of playtime, who don’t mind waiting in an extra line.

Ferris Wheel!

This probably looks prettier at night, and without us customers in the way.

Ferris Wheel!

Ride around and around and around with the cast of Toy Story, Fisher Price products, and more!

The toy selection was only slightly broader than what we have back home, not enough for our jaws to drop at the expanse, but they had five times the snacks. In addition to a normal candy section, this TRU features a separate Willy Wonka land, no golden tickets needed to come grab yourself handfuls of their dozens (hundreds, even!) of fruit-flavored products and their four (4) chocolate products.

Willy Wonka!

Purple! Purple’s a department!

Final haul from all those minutes of browsing and testing: not much. We picked up some Wonka candy for the boy, and came away wondering if perhaps we should’ve chosen differently, or if all of Times Square was just like an ordinary shopping mall with five thousand times the wattage. We rejoined the throng and the shills outside for a bit more before returning to the Weehawken hotel and expecting our next day to be even better.

To be continued!

[Historical notes:

1. For such an electrified place with windows all over, you’d think we could find some usable lighting anywhere at all.

2. To those of you hoping for shots of the famous piano from the movie Big: that was a different giant Manhattan toy store. We’ll get to that.

3. As a pariah who’s never been enthusiastic about fruit-flavored candies, I’m disappointed Wonka has had five years to get it together in the chocolate department, and yet refuses to cater to me. Humbug.

4. We were sad to hear this flagship TRU location closed the Wednesday after Christmas 2015, another innocent casualty of the online shopping movement. New Yorkers have other brick-‘n’-mortar locations to choose from, none of them conveniently in Times Square. I’d be surprised if any of them had any personality on the outside, or any really impressive photos of a fifty-foot Chris Evans.]

* * * * *

[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for future chapters, and for our complete road trip history to date. Follow us on Facebook or via email signup for new-entry alerts, or over on Twitter if you want to track my TV live-tweeting and other signs of life between entries. Thanks for reading!]

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