Crazy Bones Nostalgia

(they were actually crazy back in the day)

I’m aware what a damning example this post is, of the painfully fast-moving and ever-changing nature of our society, but my god, Crazy Bones were much cooler when I was a kid; look at this nonsense – it doesn’t even know if it’s called ‘Gogos’ or not, which sounds like an Ancient Greek monster you’d hear about in the Odyssey – as opposed to these, classy instruments of youthful enjoyment, helpfully presented with a blurry photograph.

One key difference between the generations is a cosmetic one, that the modern Bones resemble colourful anime characters, with one defining colour and several other bright shades along their bodies, while the classic Bones were monotone; they were not devoid of colour like a silent film, but each individual lump of plastic consisted of one colour.

And a criticism I have of the modern Bones is that there are too many of these colours on each figure, to the extent that any of the physical features of that Bone are lost, as you just focus on the bright spotty bits; this is especially problematic when considering that in about 2008, Crazy Bones were released with expressions that change, putting an unusual emphasis on physical features, considering they were obscured by the colours.

There is also a curious lack of range of colours; in the picture I showed you, there are three Bones with blue elements, three with green, three with red and four with yellow. This means that there is not only an explosion of eye-aching colour on their bodies, but that this colour is too repetitive for them to be eye-catching; if they are all identically and equally vibrant, do any of them stand out?

This lack of range is also personally distressing, as my favourite Bone as a kid (in about 2005) was a fat, dark purple one, with a pointy hat and a mouth full of fangs; the presence of ‘Spooky’ (as he was named by nine-year-old James) unnerved opponents, and made Bone battles all the more sinister and more serious.

And yes, ‘opponents’; back in the day, we used Crazy Bones like marbles: there were coloured circles on our school playground, and we would take it in turns to flick our Bones at each other’s, trying to knock them out of the circle. And I feel this competitive element has been lost with the new Bones; my time volunteering at a kids’ youth group for the past three years has resulted in me coming into contact with some new Bones, and they are much lighter than the classic Bones, making meaningful competition pointless as you can flick any Bone out of the circle on the first go, and all weigh the same, regardless of size, undermining the very idea of 21st Century-marbling.

But it is the user-creative element of Crazy Bones that has been lost; I don’t mourn the loss of heaviness in the new Bones, but I mourn the uniformity, that actively discourages players from coming up with games to play with their Crazy Bones – the lack of backstory or justification of these, sometimes ecstatic, sometimes sinister, lumps of plastic meant that we, as a community of players, could develop their histories, their identities and their names, culminating in the Christening of the universally-adored ‘Constipated Chicken’ by a friend of mine.

Furthermore, the difference in Bones meant that everyone could enjoy the game their way; some of us battled them, while others collected them; the former prioritised weight and easy availability to replace lost Bones in high-stakes, winner-takes-the-losers-Bone battles, while the latter liked physical beauty and rarity. The superficial attempts to distinguish the new Bones therefore limits the creativity and the focus on the individual that can be derived from these toys, which will discourage the sort of Crazy Bone communities popping up again like they did in Winter 2005.

Personally, our group joined battlers and collectors in a battle-based society, in which having multiples of the same Bone (regardless of colour – a controversial decision) greater than three meant you could play all of them at once, and move each one within a turn phase. Therefore, having three of the same Bone meant you had a 3-on-1 with an opponent, and could move three times as often.

And this led naturally to reputations and legends within the community; one friend collected eleven of the self-named ‘Zigzag’ Bone, and slaughtered all opposition, playing winner-takes-bone every time out of sheer cockiness (my match against them with Spooky was cut short by the end of break, but I had taken about four of his Zigzags by that point). Furthermore, trades became incredibly important, with me giving up Spooky (the worst mistake of my life) for four smaller Bones, that were useless themselves, but I was sold on their collective, moving-in-fours power; I immediately lost a match using them against the new owner of Spooky.

All of those memories will not be created, however, with the new Crazy Bones; their superficial differences place the focus on bulk buying by the consumer, not getting a single Bone that no-one else has and nurturing it like a child, and their deeper identicality means no meaningful games can be played with, what are ultimately, toys.

And don’t tell me I’m a bitter old man saying ‘things were better back int eh day’; they actually were.

Links:

– Crazy Bones, circa 2004

– Crazy Bones, circa 2014

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