If you were a kid in the 1970s, then you probably had the Romper Stomper toy on your want list at some point or another.
I know I did.
And, in case you don’t remember the Romper Stompers, here is a quick rundown …
Romper Stompers were:
- a marketing outcropping of Romper Room, a way to monetize the popular kids’ TV show.
- a pair of buckets turned upside down, connected by cable/string that you could hold to try and keep said buckets attached to the bottoms of your feet while you stomped around.
- pure kid cocaine, with advertising that convinced you how damn awesome you’d be with a pair strapped to your feet.
Why, if you didn’t have Romper Stompers, you were no one.
I managed to remain “no one” my entire childhood, and I think I’m better for it.
In fact, here are five reasons I’m glad by parents never capitulated to my carnal desire for a Romper Stomper toy.
My ankles are still pretty much in one (two?) piece today, and I think I owe a large part of that to my mom’s vigilance when it came to toys.
It took years, for example, before I was able to finagle a pogo stick for Christmas. By then, I was big and clumsy enough that the first thing I did was hop on the thing and bust myself in the chops with the handle.
It was also just about the last thing I did with Mr. Pogo, as he spent most of the rest of his life in my closet.
If Santa had brought me some Romper Stompers when I wanted them, though, you can be sure I would have ripped my ankle tendons all the way up to my ears. If not on the maiden voyage, then soon afterwards.
Missed Embarrassment Opportunities
All that clumsiness of mine may sound like a dream come true for an awkward little kid, but the truth is, it led to a hefty dose of embarrassing moments.
Moments like …
Going full Charlie Brown when I whiffed trying to kick a kickball.
Taking sail from the top of a flight of stairs with my trumpet in hand and landing, crumpled, at the feet of my boyhood crush.
Finally having the courage to climb to the third level of the jungle gym and then slipping on one morning-dew-coated bar and busting out my front teeth on another.
It was a laugh a minute, let me tell you.
Breaking a couple of bones while trying to play idiot tag wearing my Romper Stompers would have been like icing on the cupcake that I dropped right in the middle of my crotch during our fourth-grade Valentine’s Day party.
Better Use of Toy Dollars
I’m not sure how much Romper Stompers cost back in the dark ages of my childhood, but, judging by today’s prices (affiliate link), I’m guessing it was enough to buy a couple of Hot Wheels cars.
Maybe even a Stomper 4×4.
And those babies were all-timers when it came to toys in my circle, even for stupid, clumsy little boys like me.
Every dime not wasted on non-essential baubles was another dime that my parents could spend on the good stuff or, at least, on one of those bubblegum vending machine toys you always hounded your folks for on your way out of the grocery store.
Less Adult Junk
Just looking at the Romper Stompers now, I know — know — that I would have busted them up within a day … a week, tops.
When that happened, I’d have been left with a broken bucket or two, maybe a funky makeshift jump rope.
And that’s exactly the kind of crap that survived my childhood completely, shoved into the dark, anonymous safety of a dilapidated clothes basket jammed in the back of a closet and discovered years later when my parents moved.
“Look what we found, honey,” mom would coo. “It’s your old toys!”
Great, now I can bust my ankles up again. And just where, pray tell, is my Super Joe Terron, Beast from Beyond??
The thing about kids, even dorky, defective ones like me, is that they tend to grow up to have kids of their own.
Sorry for the bad gene replication.
And when we do, we have to deal with our own challenges during the child-rearing process.
We’ll take any help we can get navigating those waters.
Failing having certain toys retired from the earth completely, as we did with the Romper Stompers, we can at least rely on whatever successes our parents had as precedents.
So, no, little Sonny — you can’t have Romper Stompers.
I mean … you’ll break your ankles, embarrass yourself, waste our money, and be saddled with plastic junk forever.
Hell, you might even put your eye out.