I got this 1996 Radio Flyer Wagon at Kmart... in 2013. This may be one of the oldest toys I've found in a major chain retail store, although it didn't show up until deep into the markdown phases when other older toys would just show up. Lots of 1990s Hasbro Star Wars were joined by the surprising-to-see Indiana Jones toys of the late 2000s, but this sort of thing wasn't too unusual - if you lived in Phoenix, any Kmart near the Black Canyon Freeway probably had some weird, old thing you were surprised and delighted to see with a sprinkling of dust. This was one of a few cars I picked up while the store on Greenway closed, and its death throes were nowhere near as cringeworthy as the I-17 and Northern store that just closed last month. As of now, Phoenix proper has no Kmart stores. But I digress.
This is a nifty and weird car, and it was picked up when I'd buy pretty much anything neat for a dollar in part with the intention to review it here. I wound up with hundreds of cars, most still unopened, including this one which I just popped open when it was time to write a review For a toy that's legally old enough to drink, it's a treat - the Radio Flyer red wagon is a classic bit of Americana, a nostalgia piece where some kids had one and loved it but most kids I knew never owned a little red wagon of their own. To adapt it as a car in the 1990s seemed quaint, although it's possible dads saw it and were charmed by its low-cost wiles.
The metal red wagon has some really great paint. The red is easy to do well, but the crisp Radio Flyer lettering and a stunningly sharp Hot Wheels logo on the back are great for any 1990s toy. The car is largely molded in color, minus the silver chrome wing on the back and novelty engine and the wheels. It's not intensive, there aren't multiple fades or fancy gradients, it's just a simple design that adds hot rodding to a classic child's drag-along. Ed "Big Daddy" Roth would be proud.
The oversized real wheels really drive home the wacky customized thinking, as does the rubbery control stick up front. The chrome is perfect after two decades of being more or less ignored, but I guess it should be. I'm used to seeing recent toys discolor after a few years once in a while, so when you pick something up that's extraordinarily old by life-at-retail standards, it's remarkable to see everything intact and free of flakes, rust, or other blemishes. So naturally, I opened it. (It's OK, because a lot of these cars are actually toys. It's true!)
It's a weird nostalgia piece - I didn't collect wheels as a kid, nor did I have a wagon, but I recognized seeing a 17-year-old toy as a curious deviation from the norm and had to buy it due to whatever dark forces drive my toy purchases. It's one of those weird toy hunting stories that will provide me with a memory and a goofy story I'll carry with me until I die, but the toy itself is perfectly acceptable. It's not amazing, it's not terrible, it's a solid product that seems to be durable and constructed nicely. Given the fact a lot of these cars are cheap on the secondary market, get it if the price make sense.
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