Kids Game Shows. Nickelodeon was the only place that did â€˜em right.
As adults, we all know that there are only two reasons to watch a game show. First, is to daydream about being on the game show yourself. Second is to scope out the awesome prizes, which is what my article is mostly about, but please allow me a tangent about this first. I know I'm not the only one to think, â€œHoly Bejeezus, I would do that so much better than those idiots!â€ (where did they find those dumbasses anyways?) Part of the daydreaming was the envy of simply being on TV. By the looks of the t-shirts on Price is Right, this is still a pretty big deal, even for adults.
But for kids' game shows, there was the added envy of getting to participate in the awesome FINAL ROUND. Only one team earned such glory. For the original Double Dare, it was the childhood desire to get really messy (Nickelodeon has always properly exploited kids who want to get pie or slime on them.)
Don't I wish those giant waffles were real! I know they're made of foam, but with all that butter slathered on â€˜em and those big ol' blueberries, somehow they still look appetizing.
For Nick Arcade, the final round was getting to be INSIDE a video game.
That's a concept we'd been dying to experience since Tron...
...or for the younger generation, maybe Arcade...
...or that episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark where the kid goes inside the Pinball Machine...
And for Legends of the Hidden Temple, your chances of getting to the final stage, Olmec's Temple, were much lower. There were SEVEN teams to get past, here. But what an awesome obstacle course! Kinda made the kids look like they were in a crazy Indiana Jones-themed dollhouse.
An aside: I always felt bad for the guy or gal who went second. Half the time his partner was never even caught by a temple guard, and even if so, he would have to retrace all his partners steps to get back to that spot in the maze. Look at that half-hearted clap. He's really cheering for her to get caught so he can go in!
Anyway, getting back to the second reason to watch a game show, it's to check out the sweet prizes. In any of these shows, there was a good 5-10 minute segment where the host would show off the obstacle course (or video game, in the case of Nick Arcade) and explain to the kids how to win.
(I think we know where the giant friggin' orange flag is, Mark.)
This was crucial, since often the contestants didn't get remotely close to the end of the course, or they would clear one obstacle in about 2 seconds and we wouldn't really get to spend any time appreciating the grandness of the 8-foot-tall gumball machine.
It was also important so that the prizes could be properly described and shown off by one of these totally corny models.
I dig the fat model. Heh. Big girls need mountain bikes the most.
Coming up with prizes to appeal to a wide variety of kids is tough. Typically, Double Dare prizes fell into these categories:
Kids of my era, the 90s, liked to play outside. I don't know if I can say the same thing about today's kids, but in the era of Michael Jordan and the introduction of "Xtreme Sports", these types of toys were crucial. DD had these prizes on lock!
Those look awesome, even by today's standards.
Woah! Look at that motherlode! Talk about the talk of the neighborhood
The set of Nick Arcade in the background! Sweet.
These had an AM/FM stereo built in to the skateboard! Too bad they didn't play Green Day on the Radio back then...Oh how things have changed.
Electronics Tons of people today think of Best Buy as a toy store for grown-ups. Well as kids, gadgets were pretty cool too. I remember when I first got a TV in my own room. It wasn't until high school, but man was that some cool shit. Electronics of the 90s were quite a bit different than today's gadgets; this lot really shows you how far we've come.
I imagine she's singing a rockin' rendition of the Damn Yankees "When I See You Smile"
Still sexy after all these years.
Apparently Ricoh and Konika were Nickelodeon's most reliable brand of 35mm Camera.
Now that's just cool.
A HANDHELD television?!?
A SHOULDER-HELD television!??
Nothing is more flattering to the NES PowerPad than a nice pair of acid-wash black jeans.
Zenith strikes again!
I don't know what this is but damn does that model make it look cool.
Yes, this is a â€œword processor machineâ€. It's like, a digital typewriter! Having software for a task like typing documents is so impractical, right?
Educational I see no reason why a show where contestants dig through a nostril full of boogers should be so intent on teaching you anything, but I guess Nick had a conscious. Or a desire to keep parents on board with their ridiculous pie-tossing show.
Not gonna lie, I was never one of those kids who would care about a telescope.
Man, think of how stupid it would be to own a whole encyclopedia set nowadays! Plus, clearly this model doesn't read.
Now, the place where electronics and educational combine in the Venn Diagram of Double Dare prizes is right here: Casio.
A keyboard was a musical instrument that was educational and fun all at the same time. (Look how much fun this guy is having!)
I don't know what Casio was paying Nick to feature their whole line of bizarre musical products, but I never knew ANYONE with ANYTHING that even remotely resembled this.
Toys Gift Cards to KB Toys or Toys R' Us were pretty common,
But toys were really a thing of taste, so you didn't see them much. Here are a few go-to items though.
(The token girl item)
I count Tiger electronics as toys. They were in the toy section at Target, after all. As cool as we thought they were, it never exactly made sense to me how to actually operate one. I just assumed I was winning!
Parting Gifts Of course the losers have to win something, but the only parting gift really worth mentioning appeared on almost every episode of Nick Arcade, and that was the BK Knights. No still shots or cheesy models here â€“ they actually showed a little commercial in the middle of the show to highlight these badass sneakers. Those punk kids would pull a little plastic Ratchtech shoelace, making the signature â€œratchâ€ sound that would drive any crotchety old lady mad!
And finally, the GRAND PRIZE!
Usually this was a luxurious vacation where you splashed around the beach on a horse, but sometimes the grand prize was something else. On the rare occasion that it was a go-kart, it was a total WTF moment!
And in Family Double Dare, it was usually a car. Kind of anti-climactic for a kid, but I guess it's a prize the whole family would get to use. Look at that sweet ride!
Like I said, the trips or vacations were the most common grand prize. It made me want to go to Busch Gardens so badly. It's like half zoo, half theme park!
Initially, I found it weird that they would always give out trips to Disney, but sure enough they didâ€¦
I always thought the Disney Channel was a direct competitor of Nickelodeon, but I guess this was before Nickelodeon Studios was a part of Universal Studios and therefore the theme park was not exactly a competitor. But it was extra funny when they started giving out trips to the theme park you were most likely ALREADY AT to film the show. Congratulations, you get to come back here again in a month!
And finally, the grand prize trip we all remember: a trip to SPACE CAMP!!!
They made it seem so glamorous didn't they? Just look at the fun these systems control operators are having!
Looks like some kind of a Ridley Scott future child labor sweatshop.
The thing is, Space Camp is probably super boring and stupid. Anybody here know anyone who actually went? But Nickelodeon really kept the dream alive.
Well that more or less wraps up my article. Glad to be back after a 2-year hiatus! If you've read any of my past articles, then I apologize for the more or less straightforward approach this one took, usually I try to format it to be an unexpected read, but hey â€“ just getting back into it. More to come. Thanks for reading!