Swept by the Pokemon craze
Mudkip evolves into Marshstamp which further evolves into Swampert. It has a ground and water existence and has more attack than defence strategies. There is Pidgey, which flies and has a gust and sand attack. Its next evolved form Pidgeotto has a quick and whirlwind attack and its most evolved form is Pidgeot.
Sandshrew is a ground `type' which has a scratch and sand attack while its evolved form Sandslash's attacks are categorised as slash, poison and sting.
Then there are the bug types or ghost types, which go by some equally crazy names like Caterpie, Gastly etc.
If all these make any sense, one is in tune with what children talk about most often these days. For those who are wondering what these are all about, these are Pokemon characters from the famous Pokemon cartoons series. How these characters have caught the imagination of children is unbelievable. Pokemons are as much a craze for five-year olds as they are for 15-year olds.
Schools are the most veritable places where the Pokemon talk among children gets them into a tizzy. The Pokemon collectibles available in the market as `tazos' or `jenga' cards or toys have become the most coveted items for children to posses.
Says the remedial teacher at the Bhavan's Vidya Mandir, Elamakkara, Rema Unnikrishnana, "the hobby of collecting items is all right, but these items have become almost an obsession for children". The multimedia exposure and the cartoons seen on cable television seem to have given a new dimension to the mania.
The Principal of the Bhavan's Vidya Mandir, Eroor, Renuka Menon, says that bringing these items to school has become a big distraction. Children end up fighting with one another to possess the other's collection and many a time the teachers have had to intervene in the fights. "We had announced not to bring these items to school, but students continue to bring them."
The Pokemon books from Scholastic India Pvt. Ltd. have vanished from all bookstores because they have been lapped up so fast by kids. Cashing in on the popular cartoon characters are some of the snack food manufacturing companies. Introducing free collectibles like a `tazo' or `jenga' card featuring one Pokemon character along with its type and habit description, these snack foods have become one of the fastest moving products in the segment. Says a harried housewife, "these things have become such a nuisance. My monthly bill for these snack items alone has gone up to Rs 300."
In a departmental store, an average of about 3,000 packets of such a product - Cheetos - are being sold every month and while a small bakery in a panchayat also manages to sell at least 10 packets worth Rs 10 each every day. Says a storekeeper at a popular store, "these sell like hot cakes".
While many parents do not appreciate the idea of promoting these collectible items with snack items, some do not think it is such a bad idea. "I do not appreciate these snacks in which one cannot make out anything about the ingredients apart from what is written on the cover. I certainly do not believe in buying such snacks for my child," says B. Chandrashekhar.
V.S. Pradeep, yet another parent, does not believe that there is anything wrong with buying the snacks. "Most of these are biscuits and baked items, so it really does not matter. Anyway, we do tend to buy some snack or the other once a week for our children".
Saramma John, who says that she has to cater to the needs of three children at home, vehemently opposes such snacks. "I prefer to give my children home-made food. It is all right to buy a snack once in a while, but these items have become a craze because of the small plastic things that are given free with it". Mrs. Unnikrishnan of Bhavan's wonders about the nutritional value of the snack.
"It is the tazo and the jenga card that the children are interested in and not the snack," says Supriya Das. "I have to store the snacks in bottles," she added.
Mr. Pradeep says that he encourages his children to collect these items because he himself had collected many things during his childhood. "It is part of the development of children which we should recognise," he adds. This fad will last for some time and will soon be forgotten in the child's life.
To make the collection worthwhile, games involving the tazos or the jenga cards are also being marketed. This cartoon and these collectibles were a craze in the U.S. quite a few years ago. Children in the Gulf countries were in its grip for some time and now it has taken the children in India by storm. Children observe and catch up with the latest advertisements more quickly than the adults and it is they who drive the market demand for these products.
By Shyama Rajagopal
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