It’s a classic story you’ve likely heard before. I was young and a new movement was coming and taking up all of the time and attention of me and all of my friends. While everyone else seemed to get their hands on what they needed to let it rip, I felt like I was behind. I begged and pleaded with my mom, I scraped together some money on my own and was finally able to join the masses. From then on, I’d always be ready.
Then came the battles. My homies and I would get all of our stuff together and find some other dudes down with the cause or just practice against each other. Sometimes I’d even be relaxing at home and my cousin would walk in and instantly challenge me just because. That wasn’t a big deal though, because I always came prepared. We’d form a circle, get hype, and do what it do. The important thing was getting the practice in to make sure I was able to land the right spins and hops and gain the right amount of control when I needed to.
Wait… you don’t think I’m talking about dancing or anything like that, right? Nah, I wasn’t that kid. I was born a couple decades too late to be a breakdancer anyway. The B in “B-boy” I’m talking about stands for Beyblade.
Back when I was still a young blerd trying to find himself, mainstream anime that was made just to sell trading cards was running rampant. Those were cool and all and I’ve still got a scrapbook full of Yu-Gi-Oh cards I’m looking to sell one day, but the show that had me going to Target and Toys-R-Us on a regular was Beyblade.
Now, to be fair, the show made the idea of playing with spinning tops look AMAZING. They had mystical spirits inside of them that actually listened to their owners and the battles would happen in massive arenas that were the size of a house. The tops would even do crazy things like jump on top of each other and crash into stuff at 50 miles per hour just to keep spinning.
So you could only imagine my disappointment when I started to get my own. No matter how hard you pulled that damn rip cord, the tops would only spin for a maximum of 30 seconds. And that’s only if you did it right and they didn’t bump into anything and fall over.
This would’ve been a short-lived obsession if it weren’t for my cousin Liam though. Liam was my version of that relative we all have that I would always end up getting into a fight with just to hug it out later. When we got too old for rough housing and posed a legitimate threat at seriously hurting each other we turned our attention to competing in other ways. That’s when he put me on to the science behind Beyblade.
“You mean you can take parts from other Beyblades and combine them into one SUPER MEGA BEYBLADE?!?” – Keith, Age 12, Falling for the scam
Now that I’m older and have given away all of my glorified spinning tops, I can look back and realize how much of a sucker I truly was in my youth. First off, I have to acknowledge how sad the reality of the situation was compared to my high expectations from the show. Instead of a room-sized arena I got a brightly-colored plastic bowl that made more noise than a Hot Wheels track whenever I used it. I don’t know how my family put up with it.
Secondly, whatever toy company made these toys took complete advantage of me and plenty of other kids not knowing how physics worked. While the Beyblades in the show had minds of their own and could change direction at will, the ones in real life just moved in a circle and, if you were lucky, bounced off of something. So when word got out that the latest ones were remote control I was all over it. Little did I know that I’d get home, try it, and all the toy would do is turn just a little bit when I pushed the button. It was a ripoff. Or I didn’t know what I was doing. Or both.
All in all, I probably wasted more than $150 of my and my family’s money on Beyblade products when I was a kid – which was a fortune. But I won’t act like I didn’t have fun yelling “LET IT RRRIIIPPP!” for hours while I played modern day spinning tops in a plastic bowl like an idiot.