Tag Archives: Toys

I Need To Borrow a “Jaws Of Life”…

In the movies or in spy novels, you see people manage to gain access to the most secure places and things in the world using both simple methods, such as a lock pick or a simple wiggle and swipe of a credit card, or by extreme high tech hacking technology. Apparently, with a cell phone and a couple of transistors from Radio Shack, you can break into the U.S. Mint…or at least the Franklin Mint.

I, however, have been sitting in my living room, trying to open a Moxie Girl Magic Hair doll styling head for the past eight and one-half hours.

Have toys always been this difficult to open? I know that they have always been that difficult to assemble, but now it takes the patience of a Zen monk to just figure out how the box is sealed. The other day, the girls received a pair of remote control cars for their birthday. Each car was fastened to the box with FOUR SCREWS! Screws! I guess they didn’t want to take the time to just weld the damn thing to a four foot block of iron. Seriously, it isn’t a gas station bathroom key. It does not require that much security!

Back to the Moxie Girl head, I find (once I manage to just get the box open) that it is held in place by string, plastic fasteners, larger plastic tabs, rubber bands, wire ties and, last but not least, thick plastic zip ties. And these aren’t your flimsy little plastic zip ties! These are the caliber of quality that law enforcement must use to subdue raving speed freaks. Once that was removed, I find that her hair is SEWN to the plastic tabs in back. This is a toy that exists solely for the purpose of styling hair and the hair has been made nearly inaccessible. This is akin to hanging up balloons by just nailing them to the wall. I would like to write a letter to the Sadistic Toy Packaging Company (Walla Walla, Washington) and request that they just fill the boxes with concrete, that way I know that I will only need two things, a hammer and a chisel, to remove the encased playthings from the box. So far, I have used two different pair of scissors, a steak knife (for sawing!), and a pocket knife. I have also needed a pair of tweezers to extract the sewing thread from the doll hair. Because, in the vast hatred of humanity harbored by the Sadistic Toy Packaging Company (Walla Walla, Washington), they have chosen a thread color that is nearly exact to the color of the doll’s hair.

I have finally removed the last traces of ridiculous packaging. The doll head and its multitude of tiny and easy lost accessories are scattered about, ready to play. Unfortunately, Big Pink is in the bedroom, watching Justin Bieber videos on YouTube. Where, barring something catastrophic such as an internet outage, she will remain until her next birthday,

The Fear Begins Earlier Each Year

It is about this time of year that I begin to have “the fear”. As we approach the holiday, and thusly the gift-buying/excessive consumerism season, I battle with the skin crawling horror that I will, sometime around December 26th, be buried under an avalanche of tiny little plastic things; tiny little plastic things which are “sold separately” but will be purchased for my children en-masse. Please, help me.

I know that it is difficult to tell children that they cannot have something that, at that particular millisecond in time, they truly and terribly want. Trust me; I do it at least three to four times per hour, fifteen hours a day, every day of the week. I have found, though, that if you wait it out, like a craving for a second slice of pie or a second bag of Doritos, it will pass. Do not buy them those little globules of plastic.

My fear was triggered a couple of days ago by the arrival of the Toys R Us Big Book of Tiny Little Things That Will Become Lost in Your Couch and Will Someday, When You Least Expect It, Puncture Your Buttocks Through The Couch Cushion With a Tiny Crown or Little Plastic Foot… or something like that, anyway. I browsed through the hallowed pages, after prying it from my sleeping child’s hand, and was amazed at the new assortment of little animals, people, animal-people and robots that number in the thousands, each of them with their own playsets, vehicles, swimming pools and primary care physicians. When did these things get so TINY? I remember having an assortment of action-figures and cars as a child and they just were not so microscopically SMALL! My G.I. Joe figures would look at some of these things and be all “Damn, that thing is small!” and then they would jump into some slightly futuristic jet and go fight COBRA, because that is what they did when I was a kid. That is all they would do. I’m not kidding. They would comment upon the size of things and then go fight a battle. Seriously, it was kinda weird.

The other issue is that I’m not sure that each faction of little toy people can play together. Can you combine Littlest Pet Shoppers (which are no longer the littlest, by the way) with the Zoobles with some Squinkies and some Widdle Biddle Poopikins? (Okay, I made that last one up. But if they come out with one hundred little Poopikins and the Poopikin Play Castle, I want my monies, yo.) I’m sure their accessories and playsets aren’t compatible, because that’s how toy companies roll, but maybe just a couple of google-eyed puppies could come over to play with the robot penguin and miniature giraffe? It could happen, right? Right?

You know what? The next raving lunatic you see on the street going on about Batman and how Rainbow Brite is breaking up the unions is not crazy; he just finished looking at the Toys R Us catalog with his kid. Now, the person pestering you to sign some petition… Yeah, they are crazy. That crap never changed anything.

Dollhouse Tales…Of Horror!!!

It’s time again for another installment of Omaha, Nebraska’s favorite family. Consider, if you will, that this seemingly benign dollhouse may also be a portal to another dimension. Tonight is Halloween and the portal will open wide, creating a pathway for the unknown, the unexpected, the things that are kinda expected but when it happens you are still like “Whoa! I thought I was expecting that but it was still sort of shocking when it happened!”

The Fooferturds have entered…The Seriously Messed Up Zone!

Our story begins on All Hallows Eve.

Spooooky! Spooky Spooky Spooky!

Continue reading Dollhouse Tales…Of Horror!!!

Dollhouse Tales: Volume One

Every other day or so, Little Pink demands that I play “dollhouse” with her.  It’s cool and all, but I last about five minutes before I run out of dialogue for my character, which is always the grandmother.  I mean, I am ALWAYS the grandmother.  For the life of me I cannot understand why.

Anyway, this time I decided that I would spice things up a bit by enlisting LP’s help in designing a dollhouse photo shoot.  I grabbed my phone and we put together some scenes. I may have added a couple of scenes of my own to keep things interesting for me, because I have the attention span of person with ADD who does not take his medication.

The house at dawn.
Dawn breaks at Dollhouse Manor

Continue reading Dollhouse Tales: Volume One

Everything Must Go!

Since my wife and I made the decision to downsize some things, we have been eliminating possessions like hot air balloon ballast. Our garage sale that was held last weekend was a big step in getting our “stuff” down to a manageable size. Don’t get me wrong, we still have too much stuff; it’s just that now there is a little bit less of it.

Obviously, the act of moving into an apartment from a house requires the jettison of some now-superfluous items. Lawn and garden tools have been rendered unnecessary along with a great deal of other “fix-it” items from the garage. Our basement, once a storehouse for excess (and excessive) furniture is now all but bare, with a small pile of boxes in the corner that is ready to move. Honestly, our front yard looked like a flea market furniture store last Saturday, and it all sold. In fact, other than my Newcastle Brown Ale sign (which I was reluctant to part with anyway) the few items that did not sell are already packed up and ready to be dropped off to a local non-profit.

The miracle part of this whole process is that we also managed to get rid of a lot of toys that the girls either don’t really play with anymore or that are too big to take with us. They honestly didn’t really care about most of them. With the exception of a large Mickey Mouse ball, which Little Pink looked at longingly for a few seconds, the kids didn’t put up any fuss about it. They have certain things that they play with on a regular basis. I think that they have a better understanding of what they value and what they enjoy playing with thanks to this little exercise. In fact, I think that parents (and grandparents) tend to assign value to toys more so than the kids do. I know that as they age, their desires and demands will become more difficult to dissuade. Right now, though, they seem pretty reasonable and rational when it comes to possessions. Our oldest will entertain herself with a mirror; that’s just how she is. Our youngest does more actual playing with toys, such as the dollhouse and Barbies, but she has particular favorites, and most of the time she will occupy herself for hours with a small doll and a couple of outfits.

Again, they still have too much stuff, but it is a workable amount for now. I have a feeling that the real battle will begin as we approach the holiday season. If any grandparent decides to go a little “crazy” on the gifts this year, they will also need to budget in the storage unit rental that will need to accompany said purchases. We don’t have the room. This is a good thing, in my opinion. It frees up funds to buy one quality gift that the girls will really enjoy. All too often, I feel, people employ a “spray pattern” of gift buying for kids instead of targeting their specific desires. I know that 75% of gifts purchased for my kids get played with approximately once before they are tossed into the toy box and forgotten about. Sometimes this is simply because so many more toys get piled on top that they never see it again. In order to combat this, I would like my kids to pursue activities that interest them. Toys and activities aren’t just ways to kill time or a distraction for kids; they are modeled interests that reveal parts of their personality. They are tools that allow kids to explore and grow in the world. If you don’t let them focus on the things that interest them, they will never know what does interest them. If I constantly introduce new toys into the mix, then they never have time to actually be interested in anything. I wouldn’t be surprised if the cause of ADD was too many damn toys as a kid.

Paging Dr. Wimsatt

Before having kids, I used to enjoy fixing things.  I have a certain amount of technical aptitude and, other than one ill-fated attempt to fix a television set, I generally succeeded.  Now that I am a Father, I have brought up my “fixin’ stuff” game to a whole new level.  It begins when they are still all cozy in the womb, with all of the cribs, strollers, swings and seats that come in more pieces than E.T. ate of Reese’s.   I was never sure why the manufacturer of an item that, by its very definition, is meant to be assembled by people existing on very little sleep would want to create a forty-eight step assembly process for an item with zero moving parts.  It only took me three tries to assemble the crib correctly for our first child.  On the first try, I’m pretty sure I built an Edsel.

Tonight, I ventured into a realm of mechanical engineering and repair that I have not known.  Instead of packing for vacation, which is sorely needed unless I plan on making this vacation clothing optional (which is not an option), and working out (in case it ever does become an option), I spend part of the evening in Zhu Zhu pet surgery.

The sterile operating environment
The sterile operating environment.

This was the first time I have worked on a fake hamster, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last.  Several small screws (and a couple of terrifying moments where I thought I had broken it) later, I had managed to remove nearly all of the Pomeranian hair that had tangled up inside the wheels.  After a battery transplant and a ten minute search on the garage floor for a microscopic screw, Patches was back to his old, annoying self.  Tonight, in an effort to ensure this never happens again, I will remove all of the hair from the Pomeranian.