Tag Archives: toys

And the winner for most overpackaged product this Christmas is…

Leapster game cartridges. Here is a photo of one of the games Santa tried to stuff into my sons Christmas stocking with a $2 coin  for comparison.


and here is the actual size of what was contained inside that package.

Wasteful packaging 2

What a bloody waste.  I wish the Grassroots Recycling Network was still doing their annual excessive packaging awards. I would be nominating Leapster.

Love your games. Hate your packaging.

Don’t Bratz Dora!

The new DoraI should have seen this coming when Dora went all Princess a few years ago. Now she is getting the full tween makeover. According to the Mattel press release:

As tweenage Dora, our heroine has moved to the big city, attends middle school and has a whole new fashionable look.

Are you serious? One of the best role models on TV for young girls is heading down sassy Bratz route? A whole new “fashionable” look? Say it ain’t so!

The great thing about Dora is that she breaks so many stereotypes. She is a girl who goes on adventures in the wild, not in the mall. She has short hair, not long flowing locks. She wears shorts, not short skirts. She reads a map so we know she is into geography and science. All this is about to be reduced into yet another friggin trashy pop culture princess mess.

But you know what? It is going to backfire. We parents who love Dora love her for exactly those reasons. Dora IS the anti-Bratz and she will not survive this makeover. She can’t out-Bratz the Bratz. And parents will see through this crass attempt to cash in on trash. Dora is popular for precisely the opposite reasons that Mattel are trying to sell. And, as Packaging Girlhood points out,  we know who the real Dora is and will always be.

But we know the truth. If the original Dora grew up, she wouldn’t be a fashion icon or a shopaholic. She’d develop her map reading skills and imagine the places she could go. She’d capitalize on those problem solving skills to design new ways to bring fresh water to communities in need around the world. Maybe she’d become a world class runner or follow her love of animals and become a wildlife preservationist or biologist. We’ll never know because the only way a girl can grow up in tween town, is to narrow that symphony of choices to one note. It’s such a sell out of Dora, of all girls.

Voice your concern. Sign the online petition that has been started by the fine folks at Packaging Girlhood and send a message to Mattel that we don’t need Dora the Mall Explorer.

Funny Playmobil toy reviews on Amazon

Web 2.0 has brought the web many fine features, but none may be more entertaining than user reviews.

Take, for example, these reviews on Amazon.com for 2 Playmobil products; Playmobil Security Check and Playmobil Police Checkpoint.

Here is one of the more popular comments for the Playmobil Security Check.

CheckpointI was a little disappointed when I first bought this item, because the functionality is limited. My 5 year old son pointed out that the passenger’s shoes cannot be removed. Then, we placed a deadly fingernail file underneath the passenger’s scarf, and neither the detector doorway nor the security wand picked it up. My son said “that’s the worst security ever!”

And then there are these reviews of the Playmobil Police Checkpoint:

PoliceThis playset is one of the best purchases I have made for my three-year-old. In the past, when we have been stopped at roadblocks, or when during one of Daddy’s arrests, he would start crying uncontrollably. Now, after playing with this for the past several months, he is perfectly docile.

As an adjunct to this product, I would also recommend that you purchase the Playmobil Armed Standoff Playset, Fisher-Price Little People Battering Ram, and the Nerf Tear-Gas Canister Deployment Gun.


I was pretty pumped to get this model. After my Leviathan teddy-bear burst at the seams and my Guantanamo slip and slide tore into several pieces, I was looking for a petty distraction as durable as state tyranny itself.

Finally, I found the Playmobil Police Checkpoint. It’s everything a colorful plastic method of indoctrination should be: mobile, plastic, and filled with red warning signs. I love setting it up outside my house. That way I feel like I have to show papers to get in. I know I own it, but it’s cooler if the state lets me in. They know best.

Still, I have a complaint about this darling set. I mean, I’m no curmudgeon, and I hate to nit-pick, especially over such a usefully didactic toy. But I must-

No taser?

Oh, how I do love user generated comment. Read plenty more over at Amazon.

Handmade Toys Under Threat From New US Law

Wood Toys

Image by Serendigity via Flickr

Early in the new year a new law will go into effect in the US that may have severely damaging effects on small, independent toy makers.

The new law, called the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, was designed to prevent unsafe toys (like the made in China toys that seemed to be under constant recall last year) from entering the marketplace. Unfortunately, it appears that the new law is a blanket law that will impose strict mandatory testing of all toys in the marketplace, regardless of where they are made.

A group called the Handmade Toy Alliance fears that this will have a devastating effect on independent toy makers, not only in the US, but small scale international toy makers who sells products in the US market

For small American, Canadian, and European toymakers, however, the costs of mandatory testing will likely drive them out of business.

International toy makers like Selecta Spielzeug, who are already governed by strict regulations in their home country of Germany, have already announced they will no longer be selling their products in the US because of the law.

On their website, the Alliance spells out a couple of different scenarios.

  • A toymaker, for example, who makes wooden cars in his garage in Maine to supplement his income cannot afford the $4,000 fee per toy that testing labs are charging to assure compliance with the CPSIA.
  • A work at home mom in Minnesota who makes dolls to sell at craft fairs must choose either to violate the law or cease operations.
  • A small toy retailer in Vermont who imports wooden toys from Europe, which has long had stringent toy safety standards, must now pay for testing on every toy they import.
  • And even the handful of larger toy makers who still employ workers in the United States face increased costs to comply with the CPSIA, even though American-made toys had nothing to do with the toy safety problems of 2007.

While it is nice to see a government act to prevent threats to our children’s health, I would sure hate to see small, independent toy makers who make safe, high quality toys hurt in the process. The amendments that the Alliance recommends (things like exemptions for toys made from trusted countries and for toys made from raw woods and food grade materials) seem like a good starting point to make sure there are alternatives to Fisher Price and Mattel in the marketplace.

Thanks to Craftsbury Kids for the info.

Thousands expected to protest culling of the toys

Thousands of angry elves are expected to descend on a small British Columbia city this weekend to protest the annual culling of the toys.

“It’s barbaric,” says Jolly Happy, head of the Society Against Nasty Toy Abuse (S.A.N.T.A.). “The father of this family is about to commit toyicide and we must stop him.”

“There’s just too damn many toys in our house,” says the beleaguered father. “With Christmas and 2 birthdays within the span of 5 weeks, we’re overrun with Dora, Strawberry Shortcake and Tinkerbell crap. We have to get rid of some.”

“I’m not sure why they (S.A.N.T.A.) are so pissed anyway,” says the father. “The vast majority of these toys will find a better home in second hand stores and charities.”

Despite the humane assurances, worldwide reaction to the planned toy cull has been swift.

“He better leave the Lego alone,” says the Danish Toy Council.

In Sweden economic sanctions are planned against Canada should the toy cull result in the premature death of toys created or purchased at Ikea.

And in Brazil, the Brazilian government has offered amnesty to all soccer related toys and equipment, a sentiment supported by the government of Italy.

However, the father plans to proceed despite the international outrage. “I don’t care. I’ve done my last middle of the night step on some stupid stuffed squelchy animal. Look out, Little People, I’m cleaning house!”

The cull is planned for Sunday.

…and they were only asking $2 for it!

Outta site! Look what I picked up at a garage sale down the street today for $2.

Which naturally got me taking a walk down nostalgia toy road. Lite Brite was always a toy I wanted when I was a kid, but never seemed to get come Christmas & birthdays. Here’s another one…Smash Up Derby.

Man, they just don’t write jingles like that anymore. Then there was this sure fire eye remover. Not sure why my folks didn’t get me this when they were okay with me playing with lawn darts.

Yes, I am that old. And i think I’m about to hit eBay to see if I can find me a Big Jim Sports Camper.