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LXB: Bring Back Weet-Bix Model Kits

08/06/2013
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This week’s topic over at the League of Extraordinary Bloggers is “What product or media property would you like to see revived, and how would you imagine it being different today.” It would be easy to pick Firefly, or some other TV show ripped from our screens before it truly had a chance to find an audience, but that’s not what I’m going with. I’m going with something from my childhood, something sacrificed long ago in the name of health.

I’m going with the model kits Sanitarium used to print on the back of Weet-Bix boxes.

These days when you finish a large box of Weet-Bix, it ends up in the bin or used as storage for any number of smallish items. 20 years ago, children (and the occasional adult) would eagerly attack boxes armed with knives, scissors, and glue. A few minutes of snipping, slicing, scoring, and sticking-together later, and the back panel of the box would be transformed into a lunar lander, or a Himalayan hiker’s campsite, or the first powered aircraft.

Teach the controversy!

Up until the mid-nineties, it was common to find kits like these on the back of Weet-Bix boxes. Then they disappeared. Weet-Bix went through a bit of rebranding and emerged on the other side something more akin to a sports supplement for kids. Sanitarium started the TRYathalon and adverts featured kids competing against All Blacks to see how many they could eat in one sitting.

All this is fine, of course. From what I can tell, Weet-Bix is a good way to start your day, and encouraging kids to be more active is always an admirable task. What saddens me is that, in the drive to promote healthy living and sporting endeavour, they have sacrificed the creative enrichment gained from activities like modelling. It might not seem like much, but showing kids how easy it is to put together a decent looking diorama from a sheet of cardboard encourages them to experiment with their own ideas. I remember putting together a few such dioramas of my design for school projects.

Sure, the world has changed a lot in the last two decades. Computers are now omnipresent in a child’s life, assignments are done almost exclusively online, and things like cardboard kits have given way to 3D modelling and Minecraft. That doesn’t make the Weet-Bix models any less relevant. Afterall, you can’t run around your bedroom, holding your Minecraft rocket ship in your outstretched hand and making wooshing noises, can you? In a world that is becoming more digital by the day, it’s nice have something that’s still tactile.

As for the second part of this week’s topic – how would I imagine it being different today – in all honesty I don’t imagine it being too different. Design technology has come a long way since the 90’s, meaning models could be more detailed and feature photo-realistic images, but that’s the only big difference. Sometimes things are good enough the first time around.

Update: Here are a few other proposals from others in the League:

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