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January 26, 2006

Locomotive Motif

I am an expert in children's programming. I've watched every show on Noggin, twice. I can sing all the ditties and name all the shapes and colors before I'm asked. My eyes have been reformed to see the world in only primary colors, which greys out everything but candy packages in the real world. Curious.

Looking a little deeper, though, I've noticed something that strikes me as odd: the steam locomotive. It appears as characters in shows, as the picture on a puzzle, as a toy in a scene. It's everywhere. Yet, steam locomotives haven't been used since, what, the 1950's? Why is it such a common sight on kids' programming?

Maybe it's the "iron horse" thing, a mechanical object whose myriad moving parts and unaerodynamic shape hold some archetypal appeal as a fearsome creature. Maybe it's simple nostalgia for the quaintness and solidity of a huge chunk of industrial metal. Maybe manufacturers refuse to pay royalties to modern locomotive makers. Maybe modern engines are just plain ugly.

I don't know. It's just a pattern I picked up.

Posted by tat at January 26, 2006 08:32 AM