What It’s Like To Run Through A Toy Store And Grab Whatever You Want

Winning the chance to run through a toy store as a kid and grab anything and everything your heart could desire, Nickelodeon’s Super Toy Run was the epitome of luck, making the show’s winners the subject of intense envy back in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. So what was it like to live the dream?

The A.V. Club’s Marah Eakin spoke with two people who scored a five-minute run through Kay Bee Toy Stores (as KB Toys was known then) or Toys “R” Us, epic events that were beamed into the eyeballs of the very jealous Nickelodeon audience. No begging, pleading or wheedling with parents — this was unbridled freedom.

Watching it on TV was exciting enough, imagining what you’d do if you ever got that lucky — so what was it really like for those racing through the aisles? It was awesome, of course — but also? Sounds like a lot of work.

“There was tons of preparation involved in the sense that Toys “R” Us is a huge department store for a little 4-foot child to be pushing a big shopping cart through at high speed,” one participant recalls. “I was actually pretty shocked—and I still can’t believe to this day—but they allowed me to rearrange the store into a format that would be the most advantageous for me.”

The other said while he didn’t get to rearrange the store to his liking, Nickelodeon helped facilitate his run as well.

“If there was something heavy that I wanted, they would just put a tag to it that I could grab and throw in the cart,” he explains. “My dad insisted on me picking up this giant Barney plush doll that was about four feet tall. I asked him why he wanted that, and he said, ‘Because it’s $500, so get it.’

On that note, one guy says he should’ve gotten more big items that could be collected with just a paper ticket.

“I remember I got four bicycles,” he recalls. “Four easy pieces of paper that you just had to pick up and throw in the cart. That was really where I should have gone nuts.”

Equipment was in plentiful supply as well — with as many carts as the kids wanted all throughout the store. So that when one was filled, another empty one was available.

Grabbing stuff off the shelves isn’t an effortless process either, pointed out one participant, as the rows of toys are very dense. Even though everyone told him to trust run and rake the toys off the shelf into his cart, he tried that method out in testing beforehand and found it lacking.

“I was small for 11,” he says of the resulting difficult maneuver. “There was no way that I could move more than three or four boxes with my arm out. It would just pull my arm back. So all that stuff went out the window.”

Host Mike O’Malley was also an unexpected ally, one guy remembers.

“It was strange. It was an adult talking to a child like he was talking to another adult, giving me strategy,” he tells Eakin. “Like, ‘the actual rules are, if things fall on the floor, that’s just as good in the carts.’ I couldn’t believe that he was like, ‘Literally just knock things on the ground.’ “

When the day came, he says he forgot about that trick until he was in the third or fourth aisle.

“Then, I just started punching things off the shelf and knocked action figures on the ground and things like that. It was a mess, really.”

A beautiful mess that any kid I knew back then would’ve been happy to make, you can be sure of that. I’m still feeling pretty jealous right now actually, so good for you, guys.

For more on what it’s like to be the luckiest kid on the entire darn planet, check out the rest of Eakin’s Q&A on A.V. Club.

“I got 4 bikes”: 2 Nickelodeon Super Toy Run winners reminisce 20 years later [A.V. Club]

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