To infinity...and beyond!

December 20th, 2019 12:00 PM

By Jack McCarron

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The Southern Star's Digital Manager Jack McCarron recalls his most memorable ever Christmas present


The lead up to Christmas ‘96 was a stressful one for my parents.

Pixar’s Toy Story had hit Irish cinemas in March and the toy I coveted most was the interactive Buzz Lightyear doll with its built-in laser beam.

Toy Story was a box office smash grossing more than $350m worldwide but its success had not been anticipated by toymakers Thinkway.

Demand for the 12-inch-tall Buzz Lightyear action figure far outweighed supply and the race was on to secure everyone’s favourite space ranger.

With Christmas edging ever closer and local toy shops long sold out of Buzz - with no plans to restock - my mother Claire began to look further afield.

Unsuccessful calls were made to toy shops up and down the country. Midleton. Abbeyleix. Wexford Town. Portadown. Nothing.

Attempts were made to order Buzz from further afield but the internet was still in its infancy in 1996 and online shopping was as alien a concept to my parents then, as 5G and virtual reality are to most people today.

With time running out my dream present must have seemed ‘ahem’ light years away.

With hindsight being twenty-twenty I know now how loving my parents were to persist with what at the time must have seemed like an impossible task but as a five-year-old I have no doubts that I was likely an unbearable presence, repeatedly quoting the Tim Allen-voiced Spaceman.

In a case of art imitating life, the movie Jingle All the Way was released by 20th Century Fox in November of that year.

The critically-panned family comedy starring Arnold Schwarzenegger followed the travails of a hapless father (Arnie) desperately trying to land a ‘Turboman’ doll for his darling son in time for Christmas morning.

It couldn’t have been more on the nose and I’m sure if my father John had watched it he’d have taken some solace from the fact that he wasn’t alone.

With all hope seemingly lost, a Christmas miracle happened upon my despondent parents at the eleventh hour.

A tip-off that Kelly’s Toymaster in Tullamore may have Buzz in stock prompted my father to head for the midlands after work on Thursday, December 19 - five nights before Christmas.

Unlike Mr Schwarzenegger in Jingle All The Way, my parents actually delivered on their promise and when I woke up on Christmas morning 1996 I was greeted by the immortal words: ‘To Infinity, and Beyond’.

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