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Killing Grounds' New Scenery

September 01, 1986

Our first brush with the killing grounds of youth was the cap pistol. It made a noise and a satisfactory amount of smoke. But there was no such thing as a hit or a miss, and an adversary didn't have to fall down unless he felt like it. That kept it nicely obvious that it was make-believe.

Water pistols were higher technology, and you could actually hit a target if it wasn't moving too fast. But those, too, were harmless enough, except for the occasional friend who was allergic to water.

Now it comes to our attention that there is on the market some sort of an infrared-ray gun that will turn a shield in the vicinity of a 6-year-old best friend's heart blood red if the invisible ray hits the target. At a modest additional cost there is available a helmet that will also simulate a head wound if a little tyke is skillful enough to hit a chum where it can do real damage. As we read the literature on this numbing leap forward in make-believe violence, the paraphernalia, suitable for gift-wrapping, includes a noisemaker that simulates a heart beating in terror. Each time a shooter hits a target, the heart beats louder and faster.

Just the thing for the winter solstice. Two toy makers, Coleco and Axlong Inc., had the technology for this monstrous intrusion on childhood months ago and decided that it was too gruesome for their taste. We don't know what they are making instead, but we'll take a dozen of each.

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