The Wonderful Island of Misfit Toys

 

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“Why am I such a misfit? I am just not a nitwit. Just because my nose glows, why don’t I fit in?”

I’m always a little surprised (and delighted) when someone references, The Island of Misfit Toys from the Rankin & Bass ‘dollmation,’ production of Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer. (CBS 1964). Obviously R & B struck a cultural nerve with their island of broken and rejected toys. Long after Rudolf is forgotten I think will people look around their dysfunctional work place or home, and mutter the words, “Island of misfit toys.”

As a kid our family would sit around the TV set and drink in all the wonderfulness that were the ‘dollmation’ productions. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, The Little Drummer Boy, The Year Without Santa Claus, etc. Now that I look back there was so much eye candy I wonder just how much of the message of the misfits sunk in. I recall being fascinated and perplexed by the whole idea. A choo-choo train with square wheels? A Paul Lynn like Jack-in-the-Box? An elephant with poka-dots…what’s wrong with that? Or a pretty little rag doll with (years later I’d find out) psychological problems? And an Aslan-like lion (not a toy?) ruling over them all.

Maybe it was the first time I’d ever heard the term misfit, or was introduced to them as a class unto themselves. One that they could be utterly rejected and sent to a faraway island to rot. (Was there a holocaust survivor story in the Rankin & Bass woodpile?) Maybe the most subversive idea of all was that Santa Claus could be such an insensitive jerk. A bureaucrat who was too consumed with deadlines to be bothered with staffing details. After all it’s Rudolf who saves the misfits from another lonely Christmas on the island, insisting Santa deliver them to deserving children. Not exactly the stuff of children’s Christmas specials. Now about Heat Miser, clearly a head case…

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