I think the main appealing thing about the “I Love Toy Trains” videos is that the narrator is a kid. His name is Jeff and he is the son of the creator of ILTT (Tom McComas). We started with ILTT #9 and have now seen #10 but like I said, there are 12 in total so we have a ways to go before I can make any sort of definite pronouncement as to why children find them so entrancing.
I find them kind of dull, but soothing with all the clickety-clacking and wooot-woooing. Jeff reads his cue cards very well. He shows real enthusiasm for trains, though he does show more enthusiasm in #9 than in #10 which leads me to believe that in #10 he is entering puberty and about to tell his dad, look, DAD, I’m not doing your STUPID videos anymore, trains are LAME and that’s why we end at #12. In #10 they go to Maui and ride the Sugar Something Express and Jeff has that OH GOD I’m on vacation with my PARENTS look throughout. As a master of that look, I recognized it instantly. Anyway, Jeff spends most of these 30 minute films looking at toy train layouts and talking to the people who built them. Then he reports on the history of various trains. The “Lionel” features largely. There are songs that play while we watch the miniature toy trains go around and around and around and around…
…yes, as I reflect I realize it is very soothing. How valuable this is! Like toddler Va*li*um.
In ILTT #9 this creepy man is interviewed in his toy train shop. He is creepy because he makes those very exaggerated faces that people make to try and make children laugh but he ends up looking kind of dirty /perverted. Plus he is a ventriloquist and has a puppet named Vinnie sitting on his hand the whole time. I find that hand puppets rarely help your case when you are already a bit creepy. He has a very elaborate train layout in the front of the store; hundreds of trains crossing each other, crossing bridges, going through tunnels, the trains go through winter scenes, circus scenes, I don’t know what-all. Vinnie the puppet is the one who tells us all about the layout (while creepy guy is shown blowing bubbles with his gum). When Vinnie talks he sounds like he has maybe never seen the toy trains before. “So, here’s the circus train, taking the animals to the circus, boy, I sure love the circus, I sure do, I have a great time at …. …. the circus.” You know, if (world famous!) “I Love Toy Trains” says they’re coming to film your layout, don’t you take a few minutes to plan out what you’re going to say and advise your hand puppet accordingly? I would.
It’s all Toy Trains this and that around here but it took till tonight for me to go check out the TM Books and Videos (Jeff’s dad’s) website and there I found the most astounding array of merchandise for sale, including a DVD called “Lionel Nation 2” (represent?) and an I LOVE TOY TRAINS SUPER FAN PACK OMG YOU WILL NEVER FIND BETTER TOY TRAIN STUFF THAN HERE! for a cool $99.95 (includes entire boxed set of DVDs #1 – 12, hat, bandana, train whistle, colouring book) and the news that there is a series about John Deere machinery but it was when I clicked on the “About” link that I truly appreciated what TM Books and Video has to offer. Jeff’s dad didn’t even LIKE toy trains! He received a bunch of boxes of trains in lieu of payment for some work he did and he put them in his basement but then, one day, he realized that people like toy trains. Like, they really like toy trains. So he built a huge business. Sure. Why wouldn’t you. He researched the Lionel train, wrote books about it, sold them. Made film upon film upon film. There is a photo of him at the bottom of the page and he looks like a nice, friendly guy and I just want to say Right On! to him for seeing this crazy opportunity and running with it. It makes me goofily happy when people follow random paths and find huge success.
(I am not super fond of the Original Songs, though, by James Coffey. They are very keyboardy. I wake up at 2 am humming them and not in a good way.)