| Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Crazy days

Crazes have been the bedrock of the school yard for years. But how have they changed over the decades?

19th century

Conkers
Smothered in nail varnish, pickled in vinegar or baked in the oven, there were no lengths to which we would not go to toughen our conkers – until, that is, the humble horse chestnut was banned for being an offensive weapon.

1982

Panini football stickers
Completing your football sticker album was way more important than schoolwork. A wad of ‘swaps’ in our pockets, we’d huddle round at playtime to trade (‘got, got, need!’), hoping to nab a shiny, sniffable club badge.

1987

Beastie Boy badges
Rap-punk band The Beastie Boys sparked the bizarre fashion for wearing car badge pendants, and in turn started a mini-crime wave. We’d key off any old badge and invariably got nicked for vandalism and theft.

1994

Pogs
Round discs, slightly bigger than a one-dirham coin, we’d stack ’em up and pound them with a round plastic ‘kini’ (basically a fat pog) in an attempt to flip them over. If you succeeded, you got to pocket them.

1974

Marbles
Cats’ eyes, steelies and giant penkers, for fun or keeps, the rules of marbles were a moveable feast – apart from plunking (hitting a marble when your opponent was distracted) or bombsies (smashing marbles from up high).

1978

Smurfs
An entire community of adorable little blue people: skateboarding smurf, brainy smurf, ice cream smurf... Many a weekend was spent traipsing round toy shops looking for the elusive tennis-playing smurfette.

1989

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
‘Cowabunga dude!’ Oh how we loved those pizza-eating, bandana-wearing, sewer-dwelling amphibians. Our homes were overrun with action figures, lunchboxes, toothpaste, cereal...

1992

Slap bracelets
A piece of flexible steel that coiled around the wrist following a well-placed ‘slap’, school corridors reverberated with this noisy jewellery craze – before they were banned amid fears kids may accidentally slit their wrists.

What Now?

Bakugan
Brace yourselves for this game and Japanese-style animation, launched in the UAE last month. In Bakugan Battle Brawlers (Cartoon Network, Saturdays, 1.35pm), a bunch of kids create a battle game by throwing spherical robot toys on cards. The robots then transform into dinosaur-like beasts which blow fire and take swipes at each other. It turns out there’s an entire parallel universe out there and the earth-based ‘Battle Brawlers’ must save both this universe and our planet. Apparently you have to be a kid to get it, but the series and the little plastic Bakugan creatures that morph from balls to battlers have taken Japan and North America by storm.

By Karen Iley
Time Out Dubai,

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