My mother lives in Florida and, for Christmas, she sent each of my children $25 so that they could buy what they wanted instead of guessing what they might like. First, they were THRILLED to receive mail and then they were thrilled to find cold, hard cash inside the holiday cards. They're thoughts raced of possible purchases...
Friday, January 2, 2009
So today was the day. We loaded up and headed to Toys R Us. Normally, I would take them to a lovely little toy store right in our town (to buy local) but they don't carry LeapFrog products and I was hoping my son would buy a language arts Didj cartridge so he could practice his spelling words. (If you have a son, age 5-10, who is really into video games but you hate the thought of him wasting away in front of a screen, you MUST check out Didj by LeapFrog. Fabulous graphics and MATH and SPELLING that you can adjust via the Internet.)
My son did not, in fact, decide on a Didj cartridge and upon removing his choice from the packaging, I was quite disappointed. My son chose the Indiana Jones and the Lost Temple of Akator playset by Hasbro (photo to right from Amazon.com). This toy retails for approximately $42.00 but he paid $24.99 plus tax. The deal was good but the product? Beyond being more plastic junk (my opinions about buying more plastic junk were quickly vetoed), we already have this toy. Did my son own it before today? NO. Did my son own the Star Wars Lava Mountain? Yes. Are they the same toy? YES! Can you believe it? Hasbro has simply regurgitated the Lava Mountain toy, in a new color and with a few minor scenic adjustments. The balls of lava that shoot out of the volcano's mouth are now giant boulders that roll from the top of the mountain, the lava pit is now a pool of quicksand and the nubs for electrical towers (not shown) now hook up to trees. I'm thoroughly disgusted. Take a look for yourself:
My daughter's choice redeemed the day's experience, thankfully. She choose a Barbie Thumbelina doll ($12.99 at Toys R Us, $15.99 at Amazon.com). What I love about this toy is not that it's more plastic (can't avoid it altogether) but the packaging is environmentally friendly. The box even discusses the fact that the cardboard can and should be recycled and it offered a little green tidbit ("Recycling one aluminum can saves enough electricity to run a TV for three hours.") And, believe it or not, there were no twisty wires holding the doll in place!!! Just a few tiny threads held the doll in her packaging and let me say, after working my fingers raw removing toys from their packaging on Christmas Day, I was thrilled.
I'll be honest... I've never liked the way toys are made to "supplement" movies but this new approach to packaging by Mattel impresses me. I already love the Barbie movies for their positive messages and gentle themes and now I actually appreciate their toys.
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