It has been a little while now since the jingle of bells on a one-horse open sleigh was enough to keep kids entertained during holiday vacations. When you’re riding in the car to grandma’s house this season — or confronted with a bored tyke when visiting grown-ups who don’t have any kids or toys to play with — there’s a new high-tech way to keep the small ones jolly. You know those tiny 8 mm videocassettes that you use in a camcorder? They now come in prerecorded versions (more than 1,800 titles are available through selected Tower and Blockbuster video stores). You can play the movies through the camcorder, plugged into a battery-powered portable TV (or use Sony’s model GV-300 portable VCR/TV combination).
Cartoons such as The Color Adventures of Superman or The Little Mermaid tend to work better on a tiny screen than live-action films like The Red Balloon — where’s the balloon? Likewise, avoid cast-of-jillions epics.
A Young Children’s Concert with Raffi on 8 mm will probably delight the littlest ones, while the outlaw heroes of Pump Up the Volume and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves should satisfy older kids with an attitude. Of course, dozens of young people’s favorites such as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Star Trek movies are out on 8 mm; but do you really want to drive along with hours of ”cowabunga, dude” and ”he’s dead, Jim” over your shoulder? For something more seasonal, Bill Murray (beloved by kids because they can tell he’s on their side) does Dickens in Scrooged.